I was asked recently on a podcast to speak about how I got to where I am in my career, and I realised that I never talk about my “journey” in radio and in public relations.
To give you a little background, I grew up in a smallish country town called Bathurst in NSW. My parents are both business owners and drilled into the kids the idea that we can achieve anything in life, as long as we work hard. Nothing was off limits, and they always encouraged us to follow our dreams with no judgement.
I remember from a really young age I loved radio, I used to listen to the local stations at night time and it was in my early teens that I used to play pretend radio shows with one of my best friends.
I didn’t ever really know what I wanted to do with my career until I finished school and started watching Sex and the City and thought, ‘that’s it, I want to be Samantha Jones and work in public relations’. After a gap year and an epic European adventure, I landed at Charles Sturt University.
It was in my uni days that I discovered my love for radio, I wasn’t 100 per cent sold on PR about a year and a half in, it was nothing like I’d imagined, but my parents wanted me to finish what I started, so I kept partying, working and just passing my subjects!
I used to work at the Knickerbocker Hotel, the local pub, part-time and it was one Friday night that someone from the local radio station was having dinner and asked me if I’d ever thought about working in radio… I had a really husky voice (smoker’s husk) and she loved my interaction with people. I screamed “YES!” she then told me to come to visit at station…weeks went by, and I forgot!
I was a uni student remember so if I wasn’t partying I was studying or working. They ended up calling the pub a few months later, and the rest is history. I went down to the station that day, and in my final year of uni, I started getting up at 5am and going into the radio station to watch and help the breakfast show.
I was obsessed! I loved the live element and had never seen a rise like the radio announcer had when he interviewed comedian Wil Anderson.
I ended up going in two to three days a week and helped out when I could. I had found my one true love, and I even convinced my PR lecturer to let me do my uni internship at the radio station. I was in my element when I was in the studio, I wasn’t any good, but I loved the buzz of an on-air radio shift.
At 21 I felt like I was taking over the world. It all came crashing down when they decided to hire a female to work on the breakfast show as a co-host… and it wasn’t me.
At the time, I thought I was the bee’s knees, and I was deserving of the job, so much more than her. How wrong I was. Today, I completely understand it wasn’t my time, and she was a much better fit for the show, but at 21 I didn’t get it.
I now know this was a defining moment in my life, one that I am so grateful for. What was a 21-year-old going to talk about on the radio? I had no real life experience… and I had lived in Bathurst my whole life.
So I chucked a tantrum then left, even before my graduation day I was out of there, and it was the best decision I ever made.
I then travelled and worked around the U.K and Europe and had the best four and a half years of my life. A 12-month adventure turned into almost five of the best years of my life.
I worked in PR in London for almost two years, and it was in this job that I met some of my best mates, gained some incredible experience and insight into the media industry and also had some of the most challenging work and personal experiences of my life.
Before that, I travelled and managed a bar in Scotland, where I learnt so much.
I had some of the best and worst times of my life but have no regrets, just memories.
The thought of working in radio one day never really left me the whole time I was there, I was obsessed with the radio stations in the UK and would dream about having my own show one day, I just wasn’t sure when or how I was going to get there. Radio was in my blood and that feeling never really left me, so after way too much partying in 2009, I decided to venture home to Australia and do whatever it took to get working in radio. It took me having a breakdown and being diagnosed with anxiety to change my career path and chase my passion, and I am so grateful for it all.
I wasn’t going to stop until I got where I wanted to be, and that dream was to work on a breakfast show as the host in a capital city in Australia, exactly where I am today. I spent the next few months volunteering at a radio station in a little town called Lithgow, where I wrote ads in return for using the studio to record my demo to apply for Australia Film TV and Radio School.
I put everything I had into that application, and it paid off.
In 2010 I went to radio school in Sydney, and I had a ball. For the first time in my life, I was good at something, and I was scoring High Distinctions because I LOVED what I was doing.
The rest is history! Just remember, never give up! If you hit roadblocks, f**k it…who cares! Think ‘how do you I get through it? Not give up’.
Then do it!