"The Mighty Book"
More than five years ago, in the early days of Exeter's community radio station Phonic FM, three women embarked on a project to present a monthly radio programme reviewing the latest book releases, plus some classic literature, from a local perspective.
Gill Hopkins, Tina Suneyna-Harper and Abigail Marlow have been on air on the last Tuesday of each month ever since. The first programmes were pre-recorded with the help of Gill's husband Tom - the electronics wizard at Phonic FM who is largely responsible for the 'Myriad' automated play-out at Phonic, who also has his own evening programme.
When teaching commitments allowed, the team were occasionally joined by their old friend Felicity, and Exeter University literature specialist Gareth James. For a couple of years now they have been without the familiar voice of Tina Suneyna, but with increased input from Gareth James.
Several guests have also joined them for special programmes. In particular Tom Vowler (Devon author of "What Lies Within") was in the studio for a programme in December 2013 (unusually, not on the last Tuesday, but on Tuesday 10th).
On Tuesday 28th January Gill was joined by Somerset poet Julie Sampson, author of "Tessitura". Julie was in the Phoenix in person two days later for 'Poets Uncut' in the Black Box, and was on the end of the telephone line again the following Tuesday (4th February) to read her beautiful poetry to an appreciative Phonic FM audience.
On Tuesday 25th February, Gill was in the Phonic FM studio for the very last "Mighty Book". Continuing in the tradition of gentle analysis, Gill discussed "The Perfume Collector", Kathleen Tessaro's fifth novel. Topical as ever, she went on to discuss Sue Monk Kidd's "The Invention of Wings", about the experience of slavery in early nineteenth century South Carolina. (Released January 2014).
After ninety minutes of fascinating reviews and entertaining music, Gill brought us down to earth with the sad news that none of the original team were able to continue with "The Mighty Book" as a regular programme. However, any or all of the team members would be very welcome to return to the "Classical Journey" in the future, although there are no definite plans at the moment.
Gill left us with a brief discussion of her specialist subject, children's literature. Rising to the challenge as always, Gill shared her thoughts on the 2008 'Created Vision' publication "Jack's Flying Friends", written and illustrated by local artist Imogen Hallam - exactly four minutes after first seeing the book!
As we bid Gill (and Abi and Tina) a fond farewell, the programme closed with more great music - a favourite of Tina's - "Hey Boy, Hey Girl" by The Chemical Brothers.
Goodbye and thanks for all the fiction!