Lachlan Skinner & Jaymin Hyland-Taylor
Wed, June 27, 2012 at 12:00
Stephanie Hunt

Tyson Ferguson tells me that Clark Webb is the most interesting person he knows.  But Clark begs to differ.  He says that the Aboriginal community is full of interesting stories and he wants to share these stories rather than talk about himself.  So he takes me to the CHYFM radio station for a session of Speaking Hour Lingo, a program DJed by local Aboriginal children.  There I meet Lachlan and Jaymin, two budding Radio Announcers, and their enthusiasm is infectious and well….interesting.  They agree to be interviewed.

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FINDING FAME ON THE COFFS COAST

The bell rings and suddenly the corridor is mass of youth in uniform, shirts half-untucked, laughing. Somewhat daunted I squeeze between surging clusters of teens to the administrative office at Coffs Harbour High School where I have been instructed to sign in.  The interview is to be conducted in the lobby.  I find a chair while the school janitor runs the vacuum around my feet and the corridors continue to echo with the sound of students moving with increasing haste to their next class.

As the halls start to empty Lachlan appears, looking much like the many others who have streamed past: shirt half-untucked, laughing.  He slumps into a chair beside me and chats comfortably about his family while we wait for Jaymin to arrive.  “Here he is,” Lachlan announces and Jaymin enters looking a little uneasy, and mumbles a greeting.

Lachlan and Jaymin are cousins.  “My Dad is Jaymin’s Mum’s cousin,” Lachlan explains.  Both boys are Gumbaynggir, born right here in Coffs Harbour.   Jaymin’s family moved to Grafton when he was 2, but returned to Coffs in time for Jaymin to enter year 6.  Lachlan and Jaymin have been tight ever since.

Lachlan is the talker, a natural storyteller.  At 17, he’s in year 11, loves his Mum’s cooking, idolizes his father and enjoys the responsibility of being the oldest and looking out for his 3 younger sisters (well usually).  He has not always had the confidence he so clearly displays today.  “I was really shy,” he confides.  “When I was 10 I didn’t really want to be here because I had problems with friends and stuff.  But then I got the confidence to go out and meet new people.”

Jaymin is the quieter one, more comfortable with a one-word answer than a narrative.  Two years younger than Lachlan, Jaymin is in year 9.  He is the middle child of 3 and lives with his Mum, Dad and younger sister.

Both boys have grown up in Gumbayngirr families, but don’t feel their lives are all that much different from those of other boys their age.  Except, of course, that being Aboriginal has its advantages.  Knowing a bit of the Gumbaynggir language makes the boys feel special.  “Dooken”, I’m advised, means clumsy, or dopey and is a particularly useful word when referring to younger sisters.  Plus there’s extra help at school.  “There’s a lot of support. For the people that want support all you have to do is go and ask one of the teachers and they’ll help you,” Lachlan explains.  I ask Jaymin whether he agrees.  “Yeah” is all I can pry from him.  But there seems to be general agreement that being Aboriginal is a distinct positive.

Certainly being Aboriginal has helped to jam the boys’ feet in the door of a career in radio announcing.  They claim that the idea of working in radio was their own.  “We started off doing radio on a laptop,” Lachlan explains.  “We recorded ourselves, pretending we were on radio and hoping somebody would listen one day.”  Then they found out about Speaking Hour Lingo, a project CHYFM radio 104.1 set up last year to train young Aboriginals how to become radio announcers.  “We thought they were copying us,” exclaims Lachlan.  “We were a bit shocked.”

Even more shocking was that first session behind a live microphone. “We did all this training and recording for months beforehand….”Lachlan recalls before Jaymin interrupts, using the most words I’ve heard him string together thus far. “It’s like we forgot every single thing that had happened before we went on air.”  Lachlan confirms, “Yeah, Jaymin was absolutely going red in the face and all I was doing was cracking up laughing.”  But they have since improved.  “We’re like top. No bragging.” Lachlan says confidently.

The boys’ confidence has paid off, because now they have their own radio show.  Tune in on Saturday’s from 6-10pm to listen to Party Poopers, Lachlan and Jaymin’s show that gets Coffs Harbour ready to party.

Having your very own radio show and Facebook page brings with it a certain amount of fame and Lachlan and Jaymin are basking in their celebrity status.  “Sometimes when we walk around the Plaza people come up and recognise us,” says a now downright talkative Jaymin.  “It’s an awesome feeling to know that they actually listen to us.”

Both boys laugh at the pure joy of being known and then agree that they should tell me about their game.  “We call it ‘Population’,” Lachlan explains.  “If I see somebody I know I’ll wave at them, and if they wave back that’s one point to me.  I always win.”  Jaymin quickly tempers Lachlan’s claim.  “He’s only won three times because we’ve only played three times.  And I don’t think he’s won by much.” 

Like George Clooney or Angelina Jolie, the boys have chosen to use their fame for good.  Lachlan and Jaymin explain that it was a desire to act as a role model for other Aboriginal people that has inspired Gooris Got Deadly Talent, a talent competition that they boys have established to run during NAIDOC week.  “Like if we can do it anyone can,” says Jaymin.

But it is love more than fame or goodwill that ultimately draws these young men toward their calling.  Jaymin explains, “I’ve always want to become a DJ because you get to work with the music you love, you get to do what you love.”  Lachlan takes it a step further.  “People ask me why I do radio for free,” he begins.  “I’ve always told them that it’s not a feeling you can describe.  It’s just…making people feel happy is the best thing in the world.”

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Lachlan and Jaymin decide that they need to consult further before they can nominate the most interesting person they know.  Two weeks later Lachlan sends an email to say they have thought about it and their Nan is definitely the nominee, it’s agreed.  Nan (aka Jenny Skinner) is the Aboriginal Education Office at Narranga Public School I am advised.  “She is 60 years old but acts like a 30 year old” and is a seriously great grandmother. 

Article originally appeared on The Most Interesting Person I Know (http://themostinterestingpersoniknow.net/).
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