Kyriakos Gold is a journalist, radio broadcaster, producer and founder of the Greeklish Project. Born in Thessaloniki and currently calling Melbourne home, he became fascinated with "Greeklish"- a blended combination of Greek and English words- and started a research project dedicated to these types of ethnolects. GCT recently had a chat to Kyriakos about his passion for the Greeklish Project, which kicks off its live shows in Melbourne this weekend.
What is your line of work?
I wear many hats. I am a strategic consultant specialising in multicultural projects. I have been working in the media industry – in front and behind a microphone for over 23 years and I define myself as more of a story teller than a journalist. A few years ago I became an Australian lawyer but… haven’t yet crossed to the “dark side”.
Where you were you born and where do you live now?
I was born in Thessaloniki and after living in Adelaide, Sydney, and London I decided to call Melbourne home.
What part of Greece are your ancestors from?
I am a proud Pontian. My father was born in Veria and my mother in Kilkis – both towns in Central Macedonia. Our families ended up in Macedonia after fleeing North Turkey in the 1920s.
Tell us about the Greeklish Project? How did the idea come about and flourish? Are people still able to participate?
Greeklish is what I call a love project. I have spent a big part of my academic life researching Greek Australian culture and Greeklish is one of the most obvious aspects of it. A few years ago I decided to write a book about Greeklish only to realise that this book doesn’t really belong to me, but to the broader community. For that sole reason, I wanted everyone’s contribution. To get the audience to engage, submit and research words, I decided to develop an online platform. I started researching the topic by looking at other ethnolects and almost instantly I saw a real potential of categorising a range of Australian ethnolects -or community slangs in simpler terms- as a broader multicultural project.
The website was going to cost a bit of money, so I developed a business model that allows the audience to first engage on social media and by coming to events. My plan is to fundraise for the website to go live in 2017 and… of course write my book.
This weekend I am presenting Greeklish at Melbourne’s Greek Centre. I am hoping to visit Adelaide and Sydney next. Last year’s show sold out, and so has our Saturday night show so we decided to put a second one on Friday.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just completed a contract with the State Government in Victoria where I was managing Communications and Events for the Victorian Multicultural Commission so I can focus on touring with the Greeklish Project during the next couple of months. In November, I will be helping George Calombaris in the delivery of OMGreek week – a celebration of Hellenic culture, cuisine and community. In terms of media I am working on an online series that focuses on mental health issues and will be releasing a new season of my Greeklife podcast before Christmas.
I am also MCing the HACCI Excellence awards in November - one of Melbourne's biggest Greek events and working on revamping the Greek souvenir… I can’t say more than that though, we may have to talk again in a few months or next year in Mykonos.
Tell us about some of the work you have done over the years, including your time on SBS, The Gold and the Beautiful?
I have been working in media since 1994. I was part of the first team that delivered Greek TV in Australia (Mega Australia on Optus Vision), and worked with all the major Greek commercial TV stations between 1997-2008. I was involved not only in the delivery and marketing of their TV signal in Australia but also produced Australian content for major Greek shows like So You Think You Can Dance and Dream show.
In terms of radio I worked with a variety of local stations including Adelaide’s Radio Ena, Melbourne’s 3XY, JOY 949 and of course nationally with SBS Radio. My relationship with SBS started in 2001 when I was contributing to the SBS Greek Youth Show. Since then I have worked as a host, producer and senior producer with SBS’ Greek Program, SBS Sexuality, SBS News, SBS Online and how can I forget- SBS Eurovision.
In 2008 I founded Just Gold, a digital agency that specialises in content marketing and multicultural projects. I have produced a variety of radio shows, including “The Gold and the Beautiful” and “Europop – Australia’s first euro chart show”. Lately, I have been exploring new exciting ways of broadcasting via social media and planning… oh wait I can’t tell you that, yet!
What have been some of the highlights of your broad career?
In 2013 I was commended by the NSW Parliament for my services to multiculturalism, youth, the community and the promotion of diversity and tolerance in Australia. That was a very special moment where everything came together for me. In terms of broadcasting, I have lived some great moments at SBS but I remember fondly the year I presented Eurovision news for SBS Eurovision Radio - that was a childhood dream come true.
In 2001, I led the team that launched the first Greek TV bouquet nationally while I was working for TARBS World TV. That was a very exciting time in my career. Of course, I will never forget the first day I went on air on Radio 1 in - my χωριό as I say - Adelaide.
What inspires you?
As a story teller it is important to know what stories you want to tell and what stories are the ones that define and inspire you. Having left home at 17, I realised that it was the stories of struggle and strength – stories of persistence and beating the odds that inspire me. I am not easily inspired by big media moments – being in the industry I have become a bit cynical. It is the everyday people that I meet that give me a renewed sense of faith that the journey never ends.
How has your upbringing influenced the work you do?
Dad is extremely hardworking and mum is a very tough critic so I ended up a workaholic and a perfectionist, ha ha. That is my upbringing in a nutshell. I guess I still hold the values I grew up with. Strong work ethic, relationships above profits and of course a strong sense of fairness and justice – which is why I ended up becoming a lawyer at a later stage in my career. I am very much my parents in terms of the way I handle people – and people management is a big part of my work.
What is one piece of ancestral advice you remember to this day?
I used to always argue with my dad as a child, and he used to say in Greeklish “Empty vessels too much noise” meaning of course “Empty vessels make most noise”. I struggled to understand of course both his accent and the idiom. After much self-reflection and 23 years in media, I now get what my father’s advice was – and let me tell you, it has come very handy in interviews!
Aside from your family, what other Greeks have influenced you?
Growing up I was inspired by the poetry of Seferis, Elytis and Ritsos. I remember reading and trying to get in their minds, it was exciting to get to «τι θελει να πει ο ποιητής». Putting together the pieces was like my own secret puzzle. They made me feel so proud to be Greek. I stopped reading poetry at the age of 16. I didn’t like the Greece I saw outside my books and it was hard to balance reality and poetry. It didn’t make sense.
In terms of life journey- during my generation, I have to say Melina Merkouri. I loved everything about her when I was growing up. Her passion, her journey; her finesse. I loved how she was Greek but at the same time she lived in a world without boundaries. She was such a free spirit. She inspired me. I remember the day she died I was inconsolable; my mother in disbelief came and hugged me and said “Why are you crying. It’s not like she is your grandmother. Why are you so upset?” I didn’t know why I was so upset; but I know now. There were not many role models for my generation. Melina was unique. A few months later I left Greece and came to Australia.
What is your favourite Greek food?
That’s an easy one. Pork chops on the charcoal.
*For tickets to the Greeklish Project head to trybooking.com/Booking/BookingEventSummary.aspx?eid=226773