FOR THIS radio duo it wasn’t just their love of music which connected them on the airwaves — they were a love match as well.
Pejay and Joy Mirtschin share a love of music, their community and donning headphones for their weekly six-hour community radio show on EMFM 104.7.
Splitting the shift into two three-hour shows, the couple tag team into the studio and sing along to the music aptly named The Sounds of the Mighty Murray.
But it isn’t the Nathalia couple’s dulcet tones which echo through the twin towns on a Wednesday afternoon which make them remarkable.
They also both have types of blood cancers.
‘‘Our doctor said we are the only husband and wife team he has seen that both have that type of cancer,’’ Pejay said.
‘‘But for both of us, music has been our saviour. Grounding us and keeping us moving forward at all times.’’
Joy was diagnosed six years ago with Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia (CML) and three years ago Pejay got the news he had Multiple Myeloma.
‘‘We both take multiple medications daily but we are doing fairly well,’’ Pejay said.
‘‘Shake me I rattle, I always say,’’ he laughed.
‘‘It is just another thing that brings us together.
CML is caused by a chromosome mutation that occurs spontaneously and affects the blood and bone marrow. Multiple Myeloma is when a group of plasma cells becomes cancerous and multiplies. The disease can damage the bones, immune system, kidneys and red blood cell count.
But getting through their continual medical appointments, combined with chemotherapy, and stem cell treatments was only possible with music.
‘‘It is our life blood,’’ Joy said.
‘‘We are always on our computers getting new music and listening to new artists before placing them in our show.
‘‘Pejay is much more passionate than me, but it is funny that each week we never double up on songs.’’
Pejay has been chatting away on community radio for 25 years.
‘‘A quarter of a century is a long time to be doing something but I just love it,’’ he said.
‘‘It is the greatest hobby you can have.
‘‘You get to work with the music you like and create the program you think your audience would like.
‘‘And after 25 years of doing it you would never catch me playing head-banging music.’’
Pejay said it was seeing a test program unfold at the Shepparton Show three decades ago that flicked on his intrigue.
‘‘I was watching the guys from One FM do a dummy program and I though I have to do this,’’ he said.
‘‘But it wasn’t until some five years later when I heard a song on the radio which I needed to know the name of.’’
He called up and got the name of the song, but also got an invitation to come to the studio.
‘‘It was an old shed and I started my first program at midnight and was on my own for six hours. It was pretty daunting,’’ Pejay said.
‘‘And here I am still doing it 25 years later.’’
For his wife, her journey into community radio was a slightly different one.
‘‘When I lost my late husband, I was looking for something to do and the community radio station was looking for someone to answer the phones during the night program,’’ Joy said.
‘‘So I did that for a while and then the manager asked if I wanted to coordinate a group of work-for-the-dole boys who were doing training.
‘‘While I was just there to supervise I think I also took it all in and from there they asked me to do a program.’’
Although the nerves still come every time she watches the clock count down until she is on air, Joy beams when talking about her 15 years on community radio.
‘‘Apart from our family of course, music is our life,’’ she said.
‘‘Music gives us something to focus on and although it can be tiring at times we love it.
‘‘There is something about community radio that warms your heart. It is the phone calls from listeners that show you that you are keeping them company or giving them some joy.’’
Now in their 16th week with EMFM, the duo look forward to their weekly 35 minute drive.
‘‘Every time we pull up at the studio, Pejay says ‘I’m home’,’’ Joy laughed.
‘‘Everyone has been so welcoming and we just love it.’’
You can follow them on their Facebook page Joy and Pejay Radio Presenters.