Crisis tends to bring out the worst and best in people. While some choose to hoard supermarket products and organise giant beach parties in protest, AKQA Australia takes it in another direction. Enter WFH FM, Work From Home radio station.
A few weeks back as it became clear that the studio would be closing and employees would be working from home, AKQA studio concierge Jessica Day (left) developed the radio station concept with the support and encouragement of creative director Adam Grant (right). Promoting community and creative innovation during a time of social distancing, the two serve as station managers, encouraging the global AKQA team to contribute content and ensuring a round-the-clock program of music and talkback.
Says Day: “The main theme of the year for our business is Connection and this got me thinking. Music is a big part of my life personally. So is the AKQA studio culture. When thinking about how I could recreate the in-studio experience at home, bringing myself and energy to the team while working away from each other, the radio station seemed like the simple answer. From playing music, to hearing your colleague’s voices and laughter, I couldn’t contain my excitement on getting it started.”
Adds Grant: “The Melbourne studio is a very social environment, so it seemed imperative to do something meaningful that would allow that social activity to continue – something that everyone could access and feel included in.”
She and Grant knew the close-knit Melbourne team would embrace WFH-FM, but the response across the agency’s global network came as a welcome surprise.
Today, it is streaming 24hrs a day with talk back segments, interviews, special guests, and DJs from Melbourne, Sydney, London, Berlin and San Francisco. Nearly 300 team members tune in each day on the web or via mobile browsers from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, the U.S., UAE and Oman.
Daily highlights include Barnaby Matthews (above), the studio’s in-house barista and also singer/songwriter, kicking off the broadcast on “Mornings With Barnz” at 8 a.m. AEST.
Says Day: “Barnz is a complete natural and on his last show, he played a recording of Felix [Lawi] a QA engineer in Melbourne playing Chopin Fantasie on his piano–the love online after everyone heard Felix play was heartwarming. It’s been so great discovering the hidden talents of colleagues come to life that you wouldn’t usually get to see.”
Says Grant: “I can definitely see a place for WFH-FM in a post-corona future. These last few weeks have woken us up to the importance of community and informal exchange in the work we do. Even when we’re all able to return to the same physical place, there’s something about the spirit of radio that will be hard to walk away from. It’s helped us all to know each other better, and given us a sense of purpose and community in a time where we need those things more than ever.”
Says Day: “My heart is so full watching the global network come together, that my mind is thinking of the endless opportunities we have right now. It has been such a delight watching it continue to grow.”
Says Brian Vella, managing partner, AKQA AUNZ: “I’m a major supporter of this and am keen to see it not only live on, but get bigger and better. With a globally distributed network this is something unique we can all share, at the same time. We have a Slack channel that accompanies the stream, and you only have to see the love for the station there to know it definitely has a future.”
You can listen along to AKQA WFH FM at wfhfm.live.