Colleen “Cosmo” Murphy on live radio and its promise of connection
It was the autumn of 1982. I had just turned 14 and started high school in a small town called Holliston, in Massachusetts. We were fortunate enough to have a 10-watt radio station in my state high school – it was called WHHB on 91.5 FM. My third cousin was hosting a show with her friend and they invited me to come along. So I brought in some records – it was an oldies show, 50s and 60s music – and as soon as the mic went live, I ran out of the room and straight into the library. I was absolutely terrified!
Looking back, the reason I ran is because I placed so much value on radio. I was lucky to grow up outside of Boston, which had some really great commercial stations, but also great college radio stations which were able to broadcast anything. I was turned on to a wide range of music through radio; it was the only way I could discover music. Radio became such a huge part of my life – both as a method of musical discovery, and through hosting my own shows – that I actually chose the university I went to by its radio station.
Fast forward to now. I’ve been on Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide FM since 2016. At the beginning of the pandemic, my husband asked, “Why don’t you broadcast live?” and I said, “Oh no, this pandemic won’t go on for too long. I don’t think I can even broadcast live. I don’t want to deal with all the technicalities when I just want to get my head into the music.” He said, “I’ll handle that. You focus on the show.”
It was a total epiphany that has changed my life. Live radio is so different to pre-recorded. I’ve never really thought of my radio shows as a DJ trying to get more gigs. I’m into radio as a medium for communication: sharing music, telling stories, getting people involved.
I decided to do request shows because people were yearning for some kind of musical connection with one another. You know, it’s not all about sharing what I know with everybody else. There are so many people who are so passionate about music who don’t even work in the industry, and it was wonderful to have all these different requests. It became a conversation. Which is exactly the reason I went into that studio for WHHB 91.5 FM
Balearic Breakfast Volume 1 is out now via Heavenly Recordings