When I discovered the significant historical link that existed between my hometown (Ballarat) and my religion (The Baha’i Faith), I knew it would make for an interesting feature piece.
The story was about Effie Baker – the first Australian Baha’i woman – who was raised right here in Ballarat. I wanted to find out all about her and her background, and the result was the following story which featured in Ballarat Extra at the end of last month.
Renowned Australian comedian Akmal Saleh came to town this past weekend. When it came time for me to chat to him, I wanted to see what it was that made him tick, and I think I got it. Raised in one of Egypt’s largest Christian churches, Akmal became disillusioned by religion at a young age. Indeed, much of his comedy is influenced by his Arabian heritage and his life growing up as an Egyptian. Akmal told me how he had distanced himself from his faith and his culture for many years, preferring not to adhere to one particular religion. He had witnessed how religion could make people behave (negatively) towards themselves and each other instead of empowering them to show love, compassion and acceptance.
I had a chat to punk/soul/jazz diva Clairy Browne last week in the lead up to her band’s show in Ballarat. I hadn’t listened to Clairy’s music prior to interviewing her, but when I did, it buttered my bread just right. Her music takes you back to the 60s (I’m all about that kind of vintage) but still manages to maintain the contemporary RnB tunes of the 90s. Although it’s very hard to describe Clairy’s music – it’s complex, rich and influenced by an array of artists – one thing is for sure. It’s unique. Definitely music to my ears.
Yesterday, my news director approached me with a story:
“There are two boys standing at the front of Commonwealth Bank with a large sign that says ‘we want a job’. Can you go and see what their story is?”
To be honest, I didn’t think there would be much to it. Two boys looking for work…how interesting could it be? How wrong I was.
The story went gangbusters on Facebook. More than 300 likes, more than 100 comments and dozens of shares. Turns out, youth unemployment is a pretty big problem in Ballarat and everybody acknowledges it. These boys were just two of hundreds maybe thousands of young people looking for work to no avail. They were just brave enough to put themselves out there.
To make things even more interesting, one of the guys was offered a job at a hairdressing salon the next day. I guess sometimes desperate measures are the way to go.
When Sandi Thom visited Ballarat, I was blown away. Her voice, her demeanour, her talent was just outstanding. I decided to conduct a video interview with her so Ballarat could get a taste for the real Sandi – the person behind the number one hit single ‘I Wish I Was a Punk Rocker’. Of course, being the person I am, I wanted to make it an informal and entertaining video. You’ll just have to watch to find out how I did that. Whether I pulled it off or not is another story.
Four piece Aussie indie/rock band British India performed in Ballarat this week. I was lucky enough to not only chat to them before their show, but to conduct a video interview with them in The Courier office just hours before they were set to take the stage. They were such a delight to speak to and really good sports. It was an awesome interview.
The band has recently released its fourth studio album ‘Controller’, and even though it took a while to complete, it was worth the wait. The LP has landed itself in the top 10 in the ARIA charts (the boys’ third consecutive record to do so) and the singles are rocking radio channels nation wide.
So why did the record take longer than expected? Ironically, it was out of their control. Read the full story here.