Aptly named Gibraltar Stories, Lindsay’s project was unveiled at her GibTalk in early February, when she shared with an enthralled audience her dream and ambition to document local life in a podcast designed not only to promote Gibraltar’s identity abroad, but also to preserve stories for future generations, and to collate them into history. There and then, she publicly called for people to contact her with their suggestions for interviews to be recorded and made available online.
She is interested in any story with a connection to Gibraltar, breaking news or blasts from the past, told by locals or frequent visitors, to paint a truthful and dynamic picture of the British territory whose perception throughout Britain, even more so than worldwide, she reckons to be often distorted by démodé commonplace or insufficient information about its daily life beyond apes and round-the-clock booze. “For example, many tourists assume that Gibraltar is an island just because they land on it off a ship!”
“Podcasts are a brilliant way to convey a collective story.”
The mammoth project kicked off on a high note last January, when Lindsay scooped interviews with actor and novelist Robert Daws, a regular visitor who’s made the Rock the backdrop for his murder mystery novels about detective Tamara Sullivan’s placement with the Royal Gibraltar Police; archivist Anthony Pitaluga on oral history and intangible heritage; photographer Juan Carlos Teuma on his paparazzo days in Marbella; sports personality Linda Alvarez about the Island Games – and how could she forsake the story of the iconic first known Gibraltarian, the Neanderthal woman nicknamed Nana, as told by National Museum director Dr Geraldine Finlayson?
Later, Lindsay focused on the topic of the frontier closure for a series of six podcasts released concurrently and shortly after its fiftieth anniversary: “Podcasts are a brilliant way to convey a collective story and they can be stored and listened to on demand,” she says. “Some participants were wary of the idea of their testimony being available worldwide for a long time and not just a one-off radio segment, but they agreed to share their experiences nevertheless, and I collated quite a comprehensive audio documentary.”
She continues: “For some, they were sorrowful times to reminisce about, but I wanted to offer everyone a fair platform, so I interviewed a customs officer on duty at the frontier at that fateful moment, a family divided by the shut gates, etc. The youngest person who spoke up is a 51-year old woman whose father was directly involved in the event and, despite being just a baby at the time, she recounted how she found the closed border restrictive because her family spent all their holidays visiting relatives in Spain, with the sacrifices that the journey entailed, while her friends would travel to exotic destinations.”
She pounded the streets on wet winter mornings hunting for stories.
Every story has at least two sides though: “Positive evidence came from a then young woman who used to spend her holidays in Tangier, and she told me about how modern and vibrant life was there, with the latest American music playing in nightclubs and the latest Parisian fashion to try on, and the atmosphere was truly international.”
Mother-of-three Lindsay isn’t missing an opportunity to network towards acquiring new testimonials for her brainchild: “I have contacts outside the school gates in the form of a gentleman who has lived most of his life in Gibraltar and who pointed me in the right direction. As it happens in small communities it was also down to word of mouth. Furthermore, the National Archives have a similar project going on, so I hope that mine will be included somehow.”
After the summer break, as soon as her kids are back in school, Lindsay will reprise her broadcast on a variety of topical subjects, perhaps glancing back to the Island Games or looking at the role of poetry and other literature in how present-day Gibraltar is represented.
Sound is vital for Lindsay, who likes to allow a fair amount of background noise into her interviews: “A studio interview is indeed crystal clear, but clinical, while any on-location recording immediately sets the story in its back-story and makes it emotive and real. The interviewer must control the level of noise by listening to live feed in his or her headset and adjusting the microphone’s position in order not to overpower the interviewee’s voice, but statements collected in the field are surely more effective and intense, whether chirping birds and gentle waterfalls or wailing sirens and revving motorbikes, or a busy market and children’s voices are heard in the background. The listeners’ attention is focused on the words, of course, but they cannot fail to register what is going around, so that they can recreate in their minds the situation the reporter lived.”
Afraid of being punched made me seriously doubt being a broadcast journalist.
Currently the resident Saturday Breakfast Show presenter on Radio Gibraltar, and occasionally filling in for other presenters, Lindsay has become a household name – after being a presenter on GBC TV’s Newswatch for eighteen months – with her bubbly voice and her signature competition ‘Sound of Gibraltar’, which is, no surprise, sharpening listeners’ ears towards spotting a familiar sound recently heard around the Rock.
Before starting a family, Lindsay enjoyed an eventful career with BBC local radio in Manchester, Stoke and Sheffield, when she “pounded the streets on wet winter mornings hunting for stories” and drove a sixty-mile round-trip to get to work every day.
She was thrown in at the deep end during her last week of unpaid internship, which happened to be in August/September 1997: “Princess Diana had died on that Sunday, and the freelancers at the radio I was placed with was physically assaulted when they tried to gauge people’s reactions to the news, because they blamed the media for the tragedy and took it out on them just because they represented the media in their eyes. So no journalist wanted to go in the field the following day, therefore I was the only one available to be sent out to cover the comments of mourners queuing at Manchester Cathedral to sign the Book of Condolence.”
This was a pivotal point in her determination to pursue her journalistic career: “Afraid I would end up being punched, that day made me seriously doubt my desire of being a broadcast journalist, but I soldiered on and enjoyed the flavour of what the job is really about, and by the end of the day I was more and more convinced that it was indeed my calling.”
Eventually she went on an extensive career break when, pregnant with her first child, she realised she alas couldn’t juggle the demands of family and work, but she ended it on a high note spearheading a campaign for a children’s hospice in South Yorkshire, raising a handsome sum for it, and being presented an award for BBC Radio Sheffield by the then Director General of the BBC, Greg Dyke.
It all started in 1995, fresh from an English Literature and American Studies degree, when Lindsay toyed with the idea of specialising in sports journalism and accepted a gig at Manchester United Radio, where she read out traffic news for fans on match days.
She also volunteered at Radio Wishing Well, playing music for hospital patients: “I went around the wards collecting stories and dedications. It was an emotional way to hear people’s stories and brighten someone’s day, but some songs were banned from the station, like Knocking on Heaven’s Doors or I Left My Heart in San Francisco, in case terminally ill or transplant patients were listening!”
To listen to Lindsay’s podcast, read her blog or offer your contribution, visit GibraltarStories.com or like Gibraltar Stories on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter. You can also hear Lindsay on the Radio Gibraltar Saturday Breakfast Show each week from 8am until 11am.