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Susan Byrnes

Community Voices Producer

Susan Byrnes was first on the radio at the age of seven, reading her poem on WRNY in Rome, NY, her hometown. At the time she was a precocious poet, but she switched to visual art, and later earned a BFA in photography and an MFA in sculpture.

Somewhere in between her studies she was an executive director of a modern dance company and had the opportunity to witness up close the work of world class contemporary artists, such as Bill T. Jones, Liz Lerman, and Trisha Brown. In her own artwork she began to consider ideas of performance, participatory art and sound art, influenced by the conceptual work of these artists. In 2004, she produced and hosted her first radio show as a conceptual artwork. Called “Ghost Lover”, it aired weekly on WALF at Alfred University, Alfred, NY from midnight to 2 am, and featured the songs and stories from musical and visual artists who had died tragic or romantic deaths, as artists sometimes do. The next year she created the show “Super Sonic Transmissions”, dedicated to broadcasting experimental audio art compositions.

She first heard WYSO when she was in town interviewing for a job at the University of Dayton. It might have been the show “Excursions” and it could have been a song by the Ramones, her memory there is fuzzy, but even if it wasn’t, what she heard influenced her decision to relocate to the Miami Valley. She said, and I quote, “Life is too short to live in a place without good radio.” In Dayton she continued to participate in broadcasting, and during most of her seven-year tenure as Director of UD’s ArtStreet, Susan hosted a weekly show on the campus station WUDR called “Radio ArtStreet” which featured music, interviews with campus guest artists, and an area arts events calendar.

When Neenah Ellis started the Community Voices program, Susan applied and was accepted to the inaugural class. It changed her life and she has continued producing radio stories, primarily about artists and artmaking practices. Her stories have been broadcast on WYSO, (the former) WNKU, WKSU, and on 51% from WAMC in Albany, NY.

Susan works as visual artist, arts writer, teaching artist, and audio producer. She lives in Cincinnati now but loves, misses, and often visits the Miami Valley. You can find her visual and audio works on her website www.susanbstudio.com.