In a culture that worships youth, these dykes are practically ancient. Originally created in 1987 by local community activists, Dykes on Mykes is the longest running Anglophone lesbian and queer women’s radio show in Montréal, if not Canada.
With lively panel discussions, debates, opinion pieces, interviews, listener call-ins and email commentary, the volunteer-run DOM is a reliable place for listeners to get politics, music, arts, culture and local happenings with a lesbian spin.
DOM is run by an energetic and committed crew: Dayna McLeod, a video and performance artist who does most of the interviews; Mél Hogan, the sound technician and co-host; and M-C MacPhee, who programs the show and organizes the schedule. They also put out a podcast, a project the women are passionate about.
The podcast, Mél says, “allows folks out of Montreal to access the show anytime, from anywhere, and then to listen to it in private if they want, on their iPods or whatever, which is really important for us in terms of places in the world where access to queer content is hard to come by or looked down upon. There is a really important feeling of reaching folks all over the world, more and more.”
And people are listening. DOM has over 500 regular subscribers, many of whom reside outside Canada.
“We do get a lot of emails from all over,” says Dayna. “A lot of people asking for coming out advice, people feeling isolated, or people just saying they love the show.”
In an attempt to make the show as accessible as possible, the women have run into some, um, interesting glitches.
“When we first started podcasting, I noticed a really big delay — a week or two weeks — before iTunes would register changes in our XML file, which is what is read by the iTunes interface,” Dayna says. So she started looking at other shows, like CBC’s Definitely Not the Opera, and noticed that their information would appear the day after the radio broadcast.
After her complaint emails didn’t receive a response, she says, “I become even more suspect, and dare I say, paranoid, when I upload an episode about the L Word, where the discussion focussed on gays and lesbians in the American military, and the war in Iraq, and iTunes doesn’t register it for one week, until I remove the meta-tag equivalent buzz words of ‘Iraq war,’ ‘terrorist’ and ‘Afghanistan,’ and as soon as I remove these keywords, it appears in iTunes.”
In addition to side-stepping the Orwellian restrictions of mega corporations, DOM faces more mundane challenges. “We always have to keep up with what’s going on, M-C in particular,” Dayna says. “It’s about always finding fresh content.”
In search of content, the DOM crew has snagged interviews with some impressive talent. They’ve had Lesbians on Ecstasy, Ivan Coyote, Ember Swift, Rae Spoon and JD Samson in the studio.
“I tried not to gush like a school girl,” Dayna says of speaking to the legendary Ferron, “but even doing the interview by phone, she has such a presence.”
As for music they play, “We try to match the theme of the show… and we always try to play Canadian dyke music, however limited that collection is. Or we play tunes for upcoming shows in Montréal.”
Dykes on Mykes has been going strong for over 20 years, and the women are adamant about its future.
“You never hear dykes talking on the radio and you never hear anything about dyke culture on the radio, so we’re important for how we allow dykes to be heard on radio, and now through our podcast. There’s a retro feel to it — even the name — but it seems like it’s important in this era of queer to have some sort of dyke legacy.”