On the Air

On The Air: What Pink Sounds Like

Interview by Brenda Grunau

Ashly Kissman   |   photo by Robert Fougere
Ashly Kissman   |   photo by Robert Fougere

What Pink Sounds Like  is CiTR’s embodiment of Femcon. Tune in to this show and you’ll hear an eclectic mix of female artists and musicians with Ashly Kissman’s rolling commentary. Kissman’s goal, according to her blog, is “to empower girls and women by highlighting women in media and music,” citing the low percentage of women broadcasters in Canadian media as a major impetus for her program. For years, Kissman has steeped herself in radio, as programmer and staff at CFUV in Victoria (also 101.9 FM) and interning with NPR in Kansas.

Discorder: What kind of music do you play on your show?

Ashly Kissman: I play a really eclectic mix of music, so a lot of electronica, alternative rock, R&B, some hip-hop, some jazz.

D: What made you want to have a radio show?

AK: I wanted to have a radio show for as long as I can remember because I love sharing my thoughts on-air. I’ve always loved public speaking and public dialogue, and radio is a great medium to do that with… I love storytelling too, whether you are telling the story of a new artist or album, or of a woman who just wrote a book about feminist short fiction or something, radio gives you that avenue to do that.

D: What is your show about?

AK: My show is all about celebrating women in media and in music. I started the show because I noticed that in some music genres there seemed to be a lack of female bands and singers. I set out to change that by focusing on women, to encourage more women to pursue broadcasting or play music, and to not be afraid of trying that out. Also, in most radio organizations, women are only 30 per cent of on-air programmers. I always found that really interesting. Another reason is to encourage more women to get on-air, be silly and be goofy and learn new skills. You don’t have to have an immense knowledge to do a radio show, you just have to put yourself out there. I think the reward is really huge.

D: What has been your most memorable on-air moment?

AK: One super memorable moment was when I messed up on-air. I forgot to press my mic channel and started talking, and I remember my program director running in and pressing the channel on. I remember because it was the first time I allowed myself to mess up, and if that’s the worst that could happen, it’s ok. Another memorable moment for me in radio was when I interviewed the director [Judy Chaikin] of the film The Girls in the Band, [which screened at this year’s VIFF]. That’s when I really felt like the show had reached an audience and I was part of the Vancouver community. A lot of people went to my blog because the interview was posted there. It reminded me how powerful radio is; I never looked it up, but I don’t imagine Judy Chaikin was interviewed by many other radio stations. It just shows you how community radio can showcase parts of the media and the community that are completely underrepresented.

D: Who has been your best guest?

AK: Funny enough, one of my best guests ever was Classified, when I was at CFUV (in Victoria) hosting a hip-hop show with a girlfriend called The Corner. He would always take the time to talk to us and be humble in his interview responses, even though he’s an artist that’s very successful. I always thought it was super cool that I got to interview him.

D: If you could only bring one album to a deserted island, which album would it be?

AK: My first instinct is Alicia Keys’ As I Am. It’s just one of those albums that I can listen to on repeat because Alicia Keys is so damn talented.

D: What is your favourite CiTR radio show, besides your own?

AK: I’m going to give a shout out to Oswaldo [Perez, host of The Morning After Show, Tuesdays 11:30-1:00 p.m.], since I probably listen to his show the most. I like how he always features local artists in. This is what really drew me to campus and community radio in the first place—you can have local artists in the studio, and it’s such a great meeting place for people to learn about new music and get the word out.

D: What does the future hold for What Pink Sounds Like?

AK: I would love to explore the media side of my show rather than the music side. As much as my show will always remain a music show, I would love to do more interviews with local women in the media, whether it is a media campaign towards a cause, or a media installation project. One idea I had was to feature local women bloggers and interview one each week. It would let people know about the blogs, to check out all the talented women in Vancouver, but also gives them an audience for their blog. There’s a community of women that are doing things and people just don’t know about it.

What Pink Sounds Like airs Tuesdays from 1-2 p.m.