BY SID MARCH
Heather Smith is the founder of all-girls-all-the-time Rubyfruit Radio, a podcast for lovers of independent, female musicians. With roughly 13,000 global listeners, Rubyfruit Radio certainly has a market, and it’s not just queer women. Smith, garnering her on-air skills from her years as a DJ in college, says “for every ten songs [on the radio] by guys, there [was] one by a woman.” Discontent with corporate radio, she took matters into her own hands.
Although she doesn’t take credit for any of the acts she has played getting huge, she’s been able to expose underground musicians to a new, broad listener base. “I tend to shy away from the pop-sounding things [other] people tend to gravitate toward,” she says, knowing that many of the artists she showcases might remain independent. She’s discovered some real gems, however, thanks to her listeners’ suggestions. One of those treasures is Allison Greenfield who started Tinderbox Music Festival, geared toward empowering women.
Smith doesn’t just have a rad podcast and an ear for great tunes. She’s also on the board of directors with Tinderbox (and recently interviewed experimental folk pop duo Cocorosie), has a full-time job in IT, dabbles in social media work, raises a kid, and just got picked to play with the Atlanta Phoenix, a professional women’s tackle football team. “It took me four days to recuperate!” she says of the try-outs, but she did, and now she’s gearing up to join them for the season. On top of football, the Atlanta Phoenix does community outreach and charity work through the Phoenix Foundation; Smith is sure to get involved.
If you think her schedule sounds full, she doesn’t. “I know so many people who go to work, go home, sit in front of the TV, then go to bed. I don’t want to do that!” To fill up more of her days, Smith also works with Reforming Arts, a Georgia-based non-profit, going into prisons and helping introduce incarcerated women to humanities and arts. The program is intended to boost self-esteem and reduce recidivism rates, hoping to provide positive outlets for inmates and tools for productive futures.
For all of the good she does for women and the arts, Smith still finds time to kick-back. “It’s fun to drink some wine and listen to bad music,” she laughs, but it seems to be a bit of a guilty pleasure. Rubyfruit Radio broadcasts an eclectic array of music by women; she tends to play the good stuff.
Rubyfruit Radio podcasts are available on iTunes or via www.rubyfruitradio.com.