From bookstore to broadcaster – Myoung Jae Yi

“I just want to cram everything in now. Maybe it is because of the pandemic and the bushfires because they do take a mental toll. The recent Coolagolite fire, which we could see the smoke from our house, it just brought back all those memories. This was lower-level stress because you get pretty savvy about fires, but it’s that constant vigilance. It affects everyone and it gives you a sense of the finiteness of life. When you’re younger you can put things off, you can be lackadaisical about plans and things. Personally, it’s made me want to grab every opportunity I can, for me and for my family.”Myoung Jae Yi

Five years ago, the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) offered a Graduate Diploma in Radio which you could attend full and part time and only face to face. That diploma has shifted to include podcasting and now allows those who live regionally, perhaps have full time work, or young children, or limits around accessibility, the ability to still immerse themselves in radio, audio and sound production.

People like Myoung Jae Yi.

It took a bit to find time to chat with Myoung. I already knew he was a bookstore owner and singer songwriter. What he didn’t mention was that he is also the Creative Director of the Headland Writer’s Festival which he organised and ran for the three days before we spoke.

His bookstore, Candelo Books, is on the main street in Bega, one of my favourite places in the world. Within 20 minutes drive are some of the most beautiful and yet largely not touristy beaches of Australia.

In March 2018, the nearby town of Tathra had bushfires sweep through it, ignited in an electrical easement on a day with a total fire ban. Residents had only time to flee to the beach. 150 homes were damaged and destroyed. Then, not two years later, the Black Summer Bushfires hit the region again. 467 homes were lost, 1000 sheds and out-buildings, four lives, countless livestock and wildlife.

There is grief, trauma and resilience in this now immensely tight knit community. Some were rebuilding for a second time when Covid came and delayed recovery again. A friend of mine, a former radio producer, lost everything, every piece of paper from their birth certificate to irreplaceable research documents.

After the 2018 fires Yi and his bookstore collected and donated paperbacks to give to the affected Tathra community. After the Black Summer bushfires, and emerging from lockdowns, in May 2021 the first Headland Writer’s Festival occurred featuring local writers and talent. Yi loved watching the process of conversations by and with people like ABC journalist Linda Mottram, Indira Naidoo, Bruce Pascoe and Erin Riley.

While Yi had done some interviews to promote and for the festivals and bookstore, as a self-described introvert he’d felt safer in the organiser roles behind the scenes.

But then the catalyst occurred.

“My son is currently doing his first year of the Bachelor of Arts: Screen Production. I was having a look at the AFTRS website last year because he was going to go there, and I chanced upon the radio course. It was exactly what I wanted to do and had wanted to do for years. The part time online course suits my location and work schedule.

It’s about flexing a creative muscle that’s always been there. I’ve always loved radio. I’m into sound production, a musician, worked on a play. Radio is one avenue I’ve always wanted to explore.

I threated to join him for O Week. But I didn’t.”

And that is where AFTRS is different now. Not only is the Graduate Diploma course more flexible, but it’s also a gateway into job roles beyond an announcer at a radio station. For Yi, sound and audio production are areas of particular interest.

I’m intrigued by the concept of theatre of the mind. I love how audio fiction can surround and immerse you into a different world. When I hear a great song, hear a poem read out loud, piano music played, it’s almost an out of body experience. And to be able to create that sense of disembodiment through the use of words, music and atmosphere, I find that such a delicious mixture of playing with people’s senses, and I want to learn how to create that sonic world.”

Yi also goes into AFTRS without giving himself the pressure of defining an outcome. He’s more focused on making audio that he’s proud of, expand on what he could do before and sharing that process and feedback with his son.

That being said AFTRS had Yi intern at his local ABC and they’ve already offered him casual work. He’s the modern creative, working across print, music, sound and audio storytelling. A delicious mixture indeed.

Applications for the 2024 intake of AFTRS’ part time and full time Graduate Diploma in Radio and Podcasting close Tuesday November 7.



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