Zanda Wilson
Assistant Editor

10 Questions with Ethan Backman

Starting out at 96five Brisbane at the tender age of 15, Ethan Backman had a love of radio right from the very beginning.

After a short stint at Hot91.1, Ethan landed the role of music director and Afternoons announcer at 91.9 Sea FM on the Sunshine Coast.

He answers 10 Questions from Radio Today.

Who/what inspired you to choose a career in radio?

I was listening to a night show on a community station in Brisbane and I called in to request a song. They recorded the call and put it to air with my request. When it went to air, I thought it was the best thing ever and being on the radio became a bit of an obsession.

I spent a few years doing voluntary stuff for community stations and then I started pestering the “Content Director” at the local Sea Fm until he agreed to let me start panelling OBs and doing weekend music shifts. It grew organically from there. Now I’m full time as music director and Arvos announcer.

Most memorable on-air moment so far?

I was giving away tickets to one of the 50 shades of grey movies. I asked for people to call and tell me a secret to win. I got a whole lot more than I bargained for when a listener shared “a dirty dirty secret”. That call didn’t make it to air but it did catch me off guard.

What was the most awkward moment you had in your early years of radio?

The most awkward one would have to be talking to a listener during a song, and having the call go to air without me knowing. Don’t we all make that mistake at least once in the beginning? There was another awkward moment that involved the Easter bunny, but I’ll save that one for later.

What’s one radio skill that you’ve mastered, and what’s one radio skill that you’re currently working on?

For a long time as a weekend casual in a regional market, I wanted to work on getting great callers on air. But with no competitions and no callers this was always a challenge. Calling my mates worked but I wanted it to be authentic. Now I nail it with heaps of listeners on my show and make the caller the star of most of my breaks. I’m currently working on becoming a better MD.

How do you prepare for your shift on-air?

I love getting my listeners involved. Whenever the phone rings I pick up every call. I ask them everything under the sun and I’m always recording. Apart from that, I spend a lot of my time on the socials. That’s where everyone else is and everything I need to know is practically there!

How does the person you are on air differ from the person you are off air?

I’m actually a lot more reserved off air, especially around people I don’t know or in large groups. When I’m on air, I’m very outgoing and a little more cheeky.

What’s the one piece of advice you were given that you can pass along?

Work on your word economy. How can you workshop your breaks to keep the energy there, but use 20% less time?

Sum up working in radio in three words.

This is work?

What’s your dream radio job?

10 years ago I would have told you my dream job is the one I have now. Now my dream job would be doing a breakfast gig, in a market just like this, getting paid twice as much!

If you weren’t working in radio, what would you be doing?

Outside of my radio gig, I’m a qualified Personal Trainer. So I’d be doing that. It’s my back up dream job.

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