Staff Writer
Staff Writer

TOP NEW TALENT FOR 2018: 10 Questions with A.H. Cayley

Radio Today has named A.H. Cayley as a Top New Talent to Watch in 2018 and beyond.

A.H. Cayley co-hosts Triple M Sydney’s new Saturday morning show Weekend Legends with Kris Gale and Andrew Rose, and in 2017 she anchored Triple M’s rugby league comedy show The Back Row, which she, Gale and Rose co-created.

we uh, we broke triple m. how not-stressful is sudden dead air, hey

A post shared by A.H. Cayley (@ahcayley) on

A.H. got her start at FBi Radio, where she created, produced and hosted the station’s still-running politics show Backchat. In 2015, she was one of only four broadcasters to launch ABC Radio’s podcasting platform, hosting a 10-episode comedy series called Confession Booth.

She has guested on triple j and across the ABC, written for radio comedy series A Rational Fear, and once had to apologise to Bob Carr for a joke she made on Radio National (something which she maintains this is unfair because “he has never had to apologise for the public transport system”). And it’s this experience with serious matters, combined with her sharp tongue and sports brain that makes her an incredible asset to Triple M.

Below, A.H. answers Ten Questions from Radio Today.

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

It’s something I just always liked the idea of as a kid. I was raised on a lot of radio news and comedy, particularly the ABC and triple j, and I think I always wanted to be either Judith Lucy or Fran Kelly, or a female version of Andrew Denton or Roy & HG (I could never decide if I was more of a Roy or more of an HG). It was helpful to know that being both bookish and the class clown could make for a career path.

  • Most memorable on-air moment so far?

Getting the then-Deputy Prime Minister into the FBi Radio studio in Redfern a week before a Federal election, when I was only 23, felt pretty great. It was Anthony Albanese, and I made him forward-announce a song called ‘Raw Balls’ by the Melbourne punk band UV Race off the back of the interview. He was an incredibly good sport and it was such a solid interview.

For a young volunteer broadcaster at a community music radio station trying to make a (albeit very cheeky) politics show work, it was a really crystallising moment. I used to put an exhausting amount of energy into pretending I knew what I was doing, and that’s the moment I realised I wasn’t actually pretending. I honestly don’t think I’d still be doing radio if it weren’t for that interview with Anthony back then.

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

I used to sometimes be a guest on the Friday evening Question Time Quiz on RN Drive, and on one show I took the piss out of Bob Carr, completely forgetting that he was on the phone line and listening to every word. We’d all been told right before going to air that he would be joining us later in the break, because we had to be briefed on some topics from his memoir that he was refusing to talk about. I remembered not to bring up those topics, but my brain missed the part about not straight-up sledging the former Foreign Minister right before he came on air.

He was literally introduced off the back of me insulting him. Later on, he was a guest on a live comedy show I used to write for – which gave me the opportunity to actually apologise in person (which is to say, my boss told me I had to if I wanted to keep the gig). He took it so ungraciously that in the end I just cut my losses and took the piss out of him to his face instead.

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

Currently, I’m working on listening better. When you’re doing short commercial radio breaks it’s easy to forget how important it is to really, truly listen – especially when you’re preoccupied with landing the next joke or doing a seamless segue to a piece of promo that needs mentioning.

The boys and I decided recently that we’re all going to make on-air listening our next big focus, which is an awesome dynamic to be able to have with your co-hosts – it’s great to work with people who want to never stop growing.

If I have to choose a particular skill I’ve mastered, I think I’m a bloody good interviewer.

  • How do you prepare for your shift on-air?

For Weekend Legends we do a content meeting at the station on Friday afternoons, then at 8:30 on Saturday mornings it’s BYO coffee and bacon and egg rolls for a final content discussion before going on air at 10am. In terms of my own personal prep, I’ll read over everything we’re going to cover and do some vocal and mouth exercises – I find I can stumble in getting out the words out if I don’t warm up.

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

Probably the biggest difference is that the person I am on air swears a lot less than the person I am off air. On air, I’ve always tended to play around with what I can get away with, but the actual words are a bit less colourful. And the on-air A.H. doesn’t have bad days – off-air I could be a wreck, but if I’m on air I’m there to make you laugh.

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

“Stand your ground, be kind and work hard and you can’t go wrong.”

That advice was specific to being a woman in the industry, but I think being kind and working hard applies across the board.

  • Sum up working in radio in three words.

The absolute best.

  • What’s your dream radio job?

I’m pretty psyched on the one I have! In time I’d love to be more involved in the NRL, I think it’s a really exciting time for women in league in the media. TV has been forging the way and I think radio is the next logical step to follow. It’s great to be a woman talking footy on Triple M – during footy season our show is a lead-in to the Saturday NRL coverage, and our show last year, The Back Row, wrapped up the Sunday NRL coverage – and I’d love to eventually go further into that.

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

I’m a professional writer of 11 years, so more of that. Outside of radio I write for publications and specialise in copywriting, campaign management and digital strategy, and I do still have a day job. I look after media and communications for an organisation I completely adore and which does really important work for people in the community. They’re supportive of my radio work and I feel insanely lucky to be able to have two amazing jobs – lots of people don’t get to even have one of those.

If everything somehow falls apart though, I’ve scrubbed dishes before and I’m definitely not above scrubbing dishes again.

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