New Member Corner: A creative nomad’s home in radio

cathybyrd with matcha tea
Photo by: Catalina Ayubi

Name: Cathy Byrd

Location: Creative nomad currently based in Miami Beach, Florida

Joined AIR: November 2016

Get in touch:

Tell us about your professional experience and background: 
I escaped from West Texas at the age of 17 and traveled to Mexico and France. A Bachelor of Arts degree in French led me to the Peace Corps in Ivory Coast, West Africa. That was followed by civil rights work in the Deep South and inn-keeping on the coast of Maine. Later, while living my husband’s dream on a 28-foot sailboat in the Bahamas with our two pint-sized kids, I began to imagine my future. A Master of Fine Arts was my portal to the world of contemporary art, where I could practice my passion for curating, writing, educating, podcasting and radio.

The lure of radio: I posed as a student so I could host a reggae show on a college station. I produced pro bono segments for KUT Austin to take public radio for a spin, and now host a contemporary art talk show on

The podcasting urge: I launched Fresh Art International from a park bench in Brooklyn, New York. In the five years since, I’ve captured field recordings across the United States and abroad to produce more than 100 episodes – conversations about creativity with contemporary artists, curators, filmmakers and architects from around the globe.

The perfect fusion: Pop-up partnerships made dreams come true in 2016. My podcast episodes aired on cultural platforms in Germany, Turkey, and Barbados. Live podcast events took place in Miami and Chicago and I streamed radio broadcasts from the São Paulo Biennial and UNTITLED art fair on Miami Beach, Florida.

What’s playing on your radio/streaming service right now?
These days, I’m exploring podcasts – “Hyperallergic,” “Artsy,” “VICE Meets,” “Artelligence,” “Contemporary Art Podcast,” “Reveal” and “Planet Money.” A few of my go-to’s: “99% Invisible,” “On Being,” and “The Dinner Party Download.”

What’s a podcast you’ve just learned about?
Heard about it before, but just now really tuned in to “Interviews from Yale Radio” with Brainard Carey.

What do you think about it?
Brainy interviews. He gets inside the heads of artists, curators, and more … and always ends up asking them which books they’re reading. The latest episode, in which Brainard interviews himself, is a great listen. (Release date: December 7, 2016)

What’s the best piece you’ve ever heard? 
That’s an impossible question! This one is designed to thrill sound effect nerds: episode 148 from “99% Invisible,” on trademarked sounds.

What drew you to radio?
I’ve always loved how you can be on the move when you’re listening to radio – how radio and podcasts don’t demand that you sit still and stare at a screen. I appreciate the stand-alone power of the voice, the free flow of knowledge and information, and always, the storytelling. I find it thrilling that the internet has liberated broadcasting from the constraints of radio waves and programming hours, offering 24/7 international access to live streaming and archived listening experiences.

What are you looking to learn about your craft? 
I’d love to perfect my storytelling and listening skills, enhance my ability to improvise during live radio broadcasts and become a sought-after expert in voice-overs!

Most of all, I’d like to work collaboratively with creative professionals in this network to design and fund international exchange opportunities for independent producers working in the field of art and culture.

What piece of audio do you love to share with others?
David Ji’s meditation, “Open Your Chakras.” (Listen for the mantra that will help you maximize the potential of your voice!)

One of my recent podcast episodes, “Rauschenberg Residency on Rising Water.”

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received about audio?
Open up and energize your voice by sitting at the edge of your seat and smiling when you speak!

Whom have you always wanted to interview?

Michelle Obama, legendary First Lady.

Thelma Golden, a cultural change-maker from New York City, director and chief curator, Studio Museum in Harlem.

David Adjaye, Ghanaian-British architect, lead designer of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington, D.C.

Okwui Enwezor, from Nigeria, the artistic director of the 56th Venice Biennale and Documenta 11.

Yayoi Kusama, avant-garde Japanese artist.

Pedro Almodóvar, exquisite Spanish filmmaker.