Elise Ferrari
Online & Social Media Editor

Career change: How five Australian Radio School students quit their jobs and landed in radio

If you ask Australian Radio School owner Sean Craig Murphy to sum up the success his students have had in the past 12 months, he’d say it has been “massive”.

Five students have all landed themselves full-time gigs in the industry recently, but the most curious trend is that they have all come to radio from very different beginnings.

Radio Today chatted to Bevan Jones, Nicole Mitchell, Damon Adams, Karyn Bloxham and Michael Herd about their experience at the school, and why being a “student” of radio is something you can do at any age.

 

Bevan Jones

Bevan had previously worked in administration and project roles for the South Australian state government for ten years, before finding himself as the new breakfast announcer at 5RM in the Riverland.

1. What prompted the career change to radio? 

I decided that I wanted a change and had always wanted to get into media so I enrolled in a Bachelor of Arts – Media and Communication Management degree which I finished in June 2016 and was one of my greatest personal achievements.

1. What skills have you transferred over from your previous job to radio?

Although working in government is completely different to working in the media, communication and team work skills that I have developed over the years will come in handy in the new role as a Breakfast Radio Host.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time at the Australian Radio School?

From the Australian Radio School I have learnt the importance of conversational when being a solo announcer as if you are talking to a mate at the pub and ensuring that I keep on smiling on air because listeners can really tell when someone is smiling or not.

4. How is breakfast radio treating you so far?

I have been doing two breakfast segments this year on different radio stations as a sports correspondent every Monday morning. I am responsible for creating all of my own content and with one of the segments being a country station it’s imperative that the content is light hearted and focuses on local sports results eg. Local footy etc.. The country station happens to be Classic Hits 5AU in the Spencer Gulf of South Australia which is a sister station to the new station I will be working for 5RM so this has been really beneficial.

The other radio station was a community station called Radio Adelaide 101.5FM in Adelaide and doing my regular segment for this station has been also beneficial in helping me to get a casual job as a producer for Midday Sport with KG Cunningham and Phil Smyth which I only finished up recently.

5. Where do you hope your career in radio will take you in the future?

I hope to one day be a breakfast co-host on commercial radio or a sports presenter or commentator on television or radio.

Nicole Mitchell

With casual jobs like working at a winery and as a flight attendant for Jetstar, Nicole never lost sight of her dream of working in radio. Once a student of the same 2014 class as triple j’s Ben and Liam, Nicole now finds herself as the afternoon announcer and Music Director at hit100.9 in Hobart.

1. What prompted the career change to radio? 

I decided that I would pursue radio as a career when I was 14 but being such a competitive industry, I knew it would take time for a break into the industry full-time. Before this opportunity at Hit 100.9 in Hobart, I was a volunteer at Fresh 92.7; a community radio station in Adelaide.

2. What skills have you transferred over from your previous job to radio?

I’d say probably being able to effectively manage my time throughout the day to achieve getting all my tasks done. That probably mainly comes from my time working in hospitality. I was also thinking my communication skills too but I think I was born with those haha.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time at the Australian Radio School?

“Edit, then edit again” and “conversation not performance”. I still have those as notes in my phone as a reminder.

4. How is being both an announcer and Music Director treating you so far?

I’m absolutely loving it, I still have moments when I just stop, take a breath and remember that this is my full-time job. It’s so rewarding.

5. Where do you hope your career in radio will take you in the future?

Radio is a crazy beast and I’m really excited to see where it takes me. You never know what might happen in this industry and when the next opportunity might pop up, so we’ll see! All I know is that I love being on air and that’s where I hope to stay.

 

Damon Adams

Damon Adams is student who made the brave move to leave teaching to break into radio. And tt paid off big time – incredibly his first full time commercial radio job is in Murray Bridge co-hosting the Power FM breakfast show with Kristel Dally.

1. What prompted the career change from teaching to radio?

Radio is something I wanted to do as soon as I left school but a range of circumstances led me down the teaching path and then 14 years passed by. Eventually itches get big enough though that they need to be scratched and scratched hard. During long service leave I dipped my toe in the water by enrolling in Australian Radio School, but after the first night I had fallen right into that metaphorical pool. I was hooked and started doing everything I could to make the dream a reality.

2. What skills have you transferred over from teaching to radio?

Well I was flapping my gums for hours every day in the classroom and that is similar to what i’m doing now – there’s just less raising of the voice to stop poorly behaved students (only an unruly cohost). I always thought the most effective educators were ones that could establish great relationships with people (students, parents, staff) and making that solid connection and building a relationship with the listener is now what I’m trying to do behind the microphone.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time at the Australian Radio School?

The balance between flexibility and preparation! Working in tandem with a range of different talents and personalities, embracing the unexpected but at the same time understanding that without preparation, things will generally fall apart.

4. How is breakfast radio treating you so far?

The body clock is slowly being wrestled into place 🙂 The highlight has been working with Kristel Dally, my co-host – we’ve quickly developed a strong bond and both are driven to build a successful show. I love the reality that no two days are going to be the same; I spent two hours on a treadmill throughout this morning’s show to fulfil a listener decided punishment though, so hopefully there isn’t another day soon that’s similar to that…

5. Where do you hope your career in radio will take you in the future?

I hope that I can keep doing what i’m doing now for a long time – being given the freedom to exercise my creative whims and to entertain, inform and connect with people. 

Karyn Bloxham

Eighteen months ago Karyn was a high-flying lawyer in Adelaide. Now she’s in Sydney, Show Producing for ABC breakfast and Evenings, as well as producing for ABC News 24.

“In my year 12 yearbook I said I wanted to be a lawyer or work in breakfast radio,” Karyn explained. “The latter was a joke at the time although I’ve always loved radio. I’d get to school and talk to my friends about what I had heard on the radio, go home and enter radio competitions, and call up and request songs. I guess my subconscious always knew what I wanted.”

“I have always been one of those listeners who listen intently. I start and end my day listening to the radio. As a lawyer, I always had a radio in my office which a few people found odd.”

1. What prompted the career change from law to radio?

I started volunteering at Fresh 92.7 during law school. My goal at uni was to be an entertainment or Intellectual Property lawyer (even then I was never 100% sure about being a lawyer). There aren’t many media/entertainment law roles in Adelaide, so I was fortunate to be Austereo’s corporate lawyer for 4 years before the role moved interstate.

After some time on the Board at Fresh, and as a general volunteer, I started executive producing a spoken show on Fresh 92.7 called Wavelength. Leading a team of young volunteers, together we built an award-winning youth current affairs’ show that first aired in 2015.

After becoming senior in my legal career, I decided it was time to make a change. I realised I was more excited about my volunteer work with Wavelength than practising law. I enjoyed the camaraderie with my team, and the stories we were telling. We won 2 industry awards in our first year on air, and many alumni have gone onto fantastic jobs in journalism. I am still involved with Fresh 92.7, although I remotely EP the show from Sydney with the help of the host and a group of talented reporters.

2. What skills have you transferred over from law to radio?

In my content role, I apply my knowledge of regulations, defamation, research, interviewing, fact-checking, storytelling, and working within teams in a high-pressure environment.

I have retained my sense of urgency, forward-planning, organisation, and collaborative skills. You can’t “adjourn” or renegotiate your program timeslot and you can’t pre-plan too much as content needs to be current. Therefore, when things don’t go to plan, I use my problem-solving skills to come up with workarounds, which is similar to worst-case scenario planning in law. Always having a Plan B and C in mind, just in case.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time at the Australian Radio School?

ARS was a small part of my journey. I‘d been involved with community radio for 15 years before I did the ‘Intro to Radio’ course. I enrolled as I wanted to learn the creative and content point of view to complement my producing role at Fresh. I also wanted to get the most out of what was then a hobby for me. As a lawyer, I’d been taught to know what the other party is thinking in order to prepare for all scenarios. I thought I could be more useful to announcers if I knew what it was like on their side of the mic.

It’s taken time to get my legal-training out of the forefront of my mind as it’s been second-nature for 15 years. In 2016, I completed a Masters of Media Practice at Sydney Uni. This challenged me to think differently, and filled gaps in my skillset. I studied journalism, broadcast, social media, PR and various forms of writing. It solidified my decision to change careers, and meant there was a focussed transition rather than a sudden change.

4. You cover Breakfast and Evenings radio, as well as TV news. How would you sum up your time in radio so far?

After interning with the ABC Radio Sydney last year, I have been covering various shifts on local radio. It’s great experience as each shift has different requirements. Every day in radio is a good day for me. The substance and style of stories are different depending on the timeslot. I mostly work across Breakfast (fast, news of the day, short stories) and Evenings (slower, magazine-style, longer stories). I sometimes do Mornings, which is a similar pace to Breakfast but slightly longer discussions.

Recently, I have started producing for ABC News 24 TV. The scripts I write are much shorter as the images tell the story; I edit the vision also. In news, we are not in creative control of stories as it’s hard news, whereas in radio, we brainstorm as a team every day to decide on relatable content.

5. Where do you hope your career in radio will take you in the future?

I see myself as a senior producer working with a team of producers and of course the host. I want to keep learning and improving alongside my colleagues who are a wealth of knowledge. I am excited to see where new technologies take the industry. I’d like to remain hands-on making content and shaping the on-air product. I enjoy coming up with ideas, doing research, and finding the right voices to bring the story to life. I love interacting with listeners as they are the reason we are there.

Michael Herd

Mike Herd proves as long as you have the talent and passion, you’re never too old for a career change. From factory worker for Holden to now the afternoon announcer and copywriter at 2QN Deniliquin.

1. What prompted the career change to radio? What were you doing before then?

One day a workmate entered into a PBAfm competition using my name and I won! I went to the station to pick up my prize (a ten pack of CDs), got talking to Ange the station manager, and asked her about becoming an announcer. I did a short course at PBA, they put me on a list and I finally got a holiday shift fill and after my first show. I was hooked. I ended up with three shows a week, one with my wife who is also a graduate from ARS.

2. What skills have you transferred over from your previous job to radio?

Probably none as they are poles apart.

3. What was the biggest lesson you learned from your time at the Australian Radio School?

How conservative commercial radio is and how much more freedom and creativity there is in community radio.

4. How is afternoon radio treating you so far?

Fine, most is pre recorded and a lot of my time is spent copywriting. For a significant part of the day I’m on my own. The station will soon have new owners so there may be some changes.

5. Where do you hope your career in radio will take you in the future?

I’d like to work for the ABC. Ideally It would be great to do a show with my wife again as we were great together.

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Recent comments (1)
Mel Dee Dzelde
15 Sep 2017 - 3:01 pm

As an ex High School teacher, one of my favorite parts of my Job as Content Director is developing new talent and making radio dreams come true. This ensures that our industry continues to grow. I’ve had the pleasure of working with a number of Sean Craig Murphy’s students and their commitment to learning and growing their craft has been an inspiration to the rest of our team at Radio Murray Bridge. All I can say is PD’s/ CD’s if you are looking for new talent , consider investing the time in a passionate Radio School graduate.

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