Charles Sturt University
Charles Sturt University

Michelle O'Connor

Artist’s statement

Michelle O'ConnorDescription of artwork

Sounds of Significance is a new work completed in 2020 exploring the sounds of our environment. It is presented as a radio program.

Artist’s statement

My research and practice in concerned with community – place and people. In particular, how we listen to our community and what our community sounds like. I am influenced by Kate Lacey’s notion of listening out, where listening to unfamiliar stories from unfamiliar places can encourage deeper understandings of one another (Lacey, 2011). I have a background working in community radio and I identify a listening out approach to my radio work when I have strived to produce stories of people and places to share with the audience. As a listener of radio, I have experienced “mediated bodily world travel” (p. 18) through radio documentary, feature programs and podcasts where I am introduced to people and places unfamiliar to me.

Whereas Lacy aligns listening out with listening to the unfamiliar, my research and practice focuses on listening out for the familiar as a foundation for considering the meaning of local significance for a community. I argue that listening out for local significance on the radio aligns with the intent in Lacey’s theory and concept of mediated bodily world travel, as a way of encouraging deeper understandings of each other and our surroundings. Audiences can travel adventurously through stories of difference on the radio through formats like documentary which take us to places we haven’t been and lets us meet people from different backgrounds. Likewise, downloadable radio and podcasts make available stories, voices and commentary covering a broad range of topics that might extend beyond what is familiar to the listener. Local news on the other hand, is an example of locally significant broadcast material that aligns with the notion of the audience listening out for the familiar. Through local news, interviews, Council updates and service announcements community radio audiences listen out for what is familiar about where they live.

In responding to the notion of listening out for local significance I set out explore non-mainstream radio content - like the broadcast of sounds, as a programming option for community radio stations. Sounds of Significance is presented as a playlist of sounds for radio broadcast.

Artist’s bio

Michelle O’Connor is a Lecturer in Communication and teaches radio in the School of Communication and Creative Industries at Charles Sturt University’s Bathurst campus. Michelle’s research interest draws from radio, listening, soundscape, radio art and storytelling, and she is currently progressing through a PhD investigating the meaning of local significance in Australian community radio. Michelle has a background in community and commercial radio and has received commissions as a freelance audio features producer.


Lacey, K. (2011). Listening Overlooked. Javnost - The Public, 18(4), 5-20. doi:10.1080/13183222.2011.11009064