Origins of In Search of Silence

The quest began some years ago, while presenting my weekly show “mindwaves” on community radio station BayFM [2BAY]. I would choose a topic, then approach it from a number of perspectives, exploring the intersections of philosophy, science and psychology. I chose the theme of silence and ended up revisiting it three times over the years. Each time I discovered new perspectives, new ideas.

I was particularly fascinated by what at first seems to be something defined by “what is is not”, that is, defined as an absence of sound, or noise. And what’s more, it turns out to be something that can’t readily be experienced, or defined, or even measured.

It’s a bit like one of Zeno’s paradoxes, the dichotomy paradox …

That which is in locomotion must arrive at the half-way stage before it arrives at the goal. (Aristotle, Physics VI:9, 239b10)

One version of which has you throw a coin halfway toward a wall, then pick it up. Again, throw it half way from your last throw to the wall. And again and again … and what happens is you get closer and closer to the wall, without ever getting there.

My quest for silence … at least my first steps toward the wall, had begun …

What to do next? I applied for and was fortunate to receive a mentoring grant in the National Features & Docmentary Series [NFDS] from the Community Media Training Organisation [CMTO]. This program provided me with access to experts and mentors from within the radio and audio communities in Australia. At the same time, I was completing a Diploma of Sound Fundamentals at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School [AFTRS], coordinated by Guntis Sics.

The quest had support. People were fascinated by the concept of silence. All those I spoke to were encouraging, so much so that they reserved their comments – rather than saying, “I think you should …” each person said something like, “I’ll be fascinated to see what you do with it”.

Of course that was the beauty of the quest, and the inherent problem … it had so many possibilities.

And that’s what deadlines are for! Editing the possibilities down to practicalities. This piece was the original ABOUT page, and has now been retired as the first documentary has been made and broadcast on the Community Radio Network [CRN] in October 2016.

As a mentored participant in the National Features and Documentary Series, we were each asked to write a short reflection on the process.  Here is mine …


The best, getting the opportunity to be mentored, the worst, finding the first draft was, to be honest, bland.  I’d had a little experience making 15 minute documentaries focusing on one person. Extending to 30 minutes was a huge leap, it was not two times 15 minutes.  To hold the listener’s attention on a topic that is not necessarily dynamic – silence – that was the challenge.

Without the initial workshop and the mentoring, it just wouldn’t have come together.  The workshop was a great place to meet peers and experts, to be excited and inspired.  As sometimes happens, postponements and gear challenges conspired against me, or did I need to plan better?  Seems the more I do, the less conspiracies there are!

Mentoring has to be the jewel, the priceless commodity that is a rare find in Australia.  My mentors (Kevin, Martin and Andrew) sent me almost 5 pages of critique (most from Kevin who espouses my belief that the best mentor is an honest mentor).  I welcomed it all, and no surprises, I followed every suggestion.  Is there still room to improve this piece? Yes.  A tweak or two every time I listen. But that’s the beauty of radio – deadlines.

And keep a blog, or a journal. It makes reflecting and reporting so much easier.  Thanks to my peers and experts, CMTO, CBAA and CBF – a great and enriching experience for me.  I trust you will at least appreciate the piece, at best love it.  And I’m still going, continuing to pursue silence, planning more episodes and vignettes, so something worked out OK.

Thanks to all, Michael.