IF anybody says Invoice Stephens is retiring, inform ‘em they’re dreaming.
For the long-time reviewer, broadcaster, theatrical entrepreneur and oral historian is, with the announcement of his retirement from Artsound FM radio, merely (as they are saying in showbiz), doing so “to pursue different pursuits”.
“CityNews” readers can nonetheless count on to see Stephens’ identify hooked up to his many critiques of musicals, cabaret and dance, however now he’ll have the ability to spend extra time writing up the verbal summaries required of each oral historical past interview he’s achieved for the Nationwide Library of Australia with main arts figures, now numbering round 250.
His directing days are gone, however he hasn’t let that stand in his method, as he informed visitors at a farewell gathering at Artsound on January 10.
His connections run way back to 1987, when Phillip O’Brien approached him for permission to file reveals at his legendary College of Arts Café in Queanbeyan. By 1992, the Artsound groups had been skilled sufficient to provide a CD collection of cabaret legends.
Stephens’ lively affiliation with what’s now Artsound FM started in its formative days as Canberra Stereo Public Radio in its Curtin studios, the place he appeared as a visitor within the “Conversations” program. He was each the primary and the final visitor of one other radio veteran, Invoice Oakes, and he additionally appeared speaking concerning the arts on Phil Mackenzie’s “Flea in Your Ear” packages.
On the time, he had simply retired from working the College of Arts Cafe in Queanbeyan, the enterprise for which he’s finest identified, however he already had a profession behind him as a personnel officer at Calvary Hospital and as a director with Canberra Philharmonic Society.
After 15 years of directing on the café, he received concerned with cabaret venues on the Hyatt and the Nationwide Press Membership, however there was now time to enterprise into a brand new area – broadcasting.
When he joined the weekly program “Costume Circle” group as a presenter in 2003 with Clinton White, Tony Magee and later Len Energy as co-presenters, it was sheer pleasure.
Artsound, he discovered, was one of many only a few stations in Australia doing in-depth interviews concerning the processes in efficiency, which had at all times him.
Stephens offered this system repeatedly till 2015, by which period it had developed into 90 minutes of music, information and critiques concerning the performing arts in Canberra and past.
From 2015, Energy continued a barely modified program referred to as “On Stage” whereas Stephens contributed weekly interviews below the title “Backstage”. Later, when Energy stepped again, he turned its sole presenter of this system, now retitled “In The Lobby”.
All of the whereas, Artsound was working a separate program referred to as “Purple Velvet and Wild Boronia”, recordings of performances on the Queanbeyan café, which had been to fill a niche by way of the 2020 covid lockdown.
In late 2020, Stephens additionally co-founded, with Bart Meehan, the weekly collection “Artwork Sound Radio Theatre”, geared toward reinvigorating the artwork of playwriting.
Below the tutelage of Energy, Stephens had additionally learnt concerning the technicalities and started to see his reveals as “like little productions, the place all the things has to suit, match collectively, together with the music”.
Throughout covid he even learnt easy methods to produce reveals in his house workplace.
Radio glad the inventive urges nonetheless lurking after a 15-year directing stint on the café, however Stephens was at all times one thing of a stage-door Johnny and his past love was at all times interviewing personalities.
Over time, he received to interview not simply home-grown stars however everyone from Chita Rivera, the unique Anita in “West Facet Story” and Michael Ball, the unique London Marius in “Les Misérables”. When he was on the board of the Adelaide Cabaret Pageant, he would take his mic with him and interview the entire stars.
So, what of the long run?
There are nonetheless these reveals to overview, all these interviews to jot down up and extra to come back.
Spouse Pat was initially keen about his “retirement” till she realised that it could make little or no distinction in anyway – he’s prone to be simply as busy as ever. As additionally they say in present enterprise, as one door closes, one other one opens.
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Ian Meikle, editor