I first met Jason Sole (aka Soleman) in 1994 at Triple M Adelaide. I was working on the street team while he was doing late nights following Ugly Phil and Jackie O.
In 1995 Jason moved to Sydney to do dawns on 2Day FM. This was the era of The Morning Crew with Wendy Harmer and Peter Moon with Ron E Sparks, Keith Williams and Martin/Molloy across the day. David Rymer was on nights before Ugly Phil and Jackie O ‘s national Hot 30 show took over.
After 9 years at 2Day FM he left the station and radio. What has he been doing since he left and which Sydney station is he back doing some shifts for.
Jason: For the last 10 years I’ve been running my own entertainment & events company – Sole Entertainment. We present live shows, interactive events & activations for kids, predominantly at shopping centres in the school holidays. Our biggest achievements include 2 x national Westfield tours of official Star Wars “Jedi Experiences” as well as licensed Nerf, Play-
Doh & Crayola activations. Plus we supply loads of Christmas Entertainment for corporates, clubs, councils & shopping centres.
Along the way I also freelanced at RCS & Foxtel/XYZ. And I promoted a weekly Saturday nightclub in Sydney for about 12 months.
Mark : You were recently back doing weekend shifts at Nova 96.9. What brought on the return and are you enjoying being back behind a mic ?
Jason: It’s a little bit like an unscratched itch. For years after I left radio I was seriously having recurring dreams about being on air and songs were fading out without me having the next piece of audio ready to go! I think my subconscious was trying to tell me something. When Shaun (Heron) got me in to the Nova studio recently to have a play and record some breaks I’d really
forgotten how much fun it was!
Mark : What are the main differences you find between being an announcer now and, say, 2000 ?
Jason: Zetta has certainly changed the way modern radio stations sound. The ability to preview and adjust transitions between audio assets is pretty insane. I must admit it took me a while to get used to letting the thing roll without touching a button or a fader on playback. And the ability to pre- produce a talk break by recording voice tracks and mixing/syncing them up perfectly with the music is, let’s face it, cheating! But still amazing. (Don’t get me started on the “back in my day” rant).
That and 7 second delay. Clearly the industry has become more self- regulated in the last 10 years, by necessity. But the world in general has become a “safer” (yet somehow more dangerous?!) place to live. I do miss being really live. Not just for that complete immediacy, but for the unmistakable sound in your cans of the transmitter sucking everything into line. Especially during a talk break. One of the things I really loved about being on air was letting my voice float perfectly within the start or
end of a track; to really let the song breathe and let it guide the energy in my voice. There used to be a perfect distance to leave between your mouth and the mic. Not so much anymore as it’s harder to judge the mix when you’re monitoring the signal pre-transmitter.
Mark : What got you into radio in the first place ?
Jason: Radio was in my blood from a really young age. Growing up in Melbourne, I got into voice-overs from about 10 years old and started volunteering in community radio when I was a teenager. I was pretty obsessed with anything and everything coming out of the speakers. There was never really any doubt about what I wanted to do when I grew up. Once I got into the Swinburne Radio course there was no turning back.
Mark : Any jobs before radio ?
Jason: Safeway Supermarket, South Oakleigh. Stacking shelves and serving cold meats in the deli when I was 16. It bought me my first drum machine.
Mark : What’s the best piece of advice you have been given as a jock ?
Jason: Is it bad that I can’t remember any good advice??
I do remember being asked “Who is Jason Sole/The Soleman?”
I never really understood the question at the time. With maturity I understand it a little better now – what’s your point-of-difference that’s going to allow listeners to get to know you and love you?
The trick is allowing that to shine through in such short bursts of opportunity in a music shift.
Mark : What advice do you wish you had been given?
Jason: Don’t overthink it.
Strategy, planning & great execution are all important, but the majority of listeners don’t care nearly as much about what comes out of the speakers as what we wished they did (even more so these days with the wider selection of consumable content). Have fun! Seek out and enjoy a life outside of radio, it will only make you a happier person and ultimately better at what you do – on and off the air.
Mark : Do you listen to radio in your career away from radio ? If so, what stations ?
Jason: I’m quite transient when it comes to listening habits, plus I’ve got a pretty eclectic taste in music. There isn’t a station that totally appeals to my tastes, so streaming is my best friend most days.
Mark : Which jocks did you look up to when you were on-air back in the day and what made them great ?
Jason: Growing up in Melbourne – Rob Elliott, John Peters, The D Gen. What made them great was their complete unpredictability. That’s what made them exciting to listen to. To this day I’m still attracted to that same quality on radio and TV. I’ll watch (almost) any live TV show regardless of the content, just to feel that immediacy.
Mark : Who are some stand out jocks from today and what makes them great ?
Jason: There are lots of daytime announcers that are presenting really tight and brilliantly-constructed shifts. It’s difficult to pick a standout.
Mark : You championed dance music when you were at 2Day with a unique specialist show called ‘Remedy’. Is that something you still do or want to do again ?
Jason: Dance music was (and still is) a real passion of mine. Remedy developed from the national radio show to a CD release, club nights and TV segments on Channel [V]/Club [V]. Sadly the politics of the industry and lack of rewards wore me down after a while. And it’s no coincidence that around the same time, my first child entered the world. Parenthood and 4am finishes definitely do not mix!
Mark : Do you have any aspirations to get back on-air fulltime ?
Jason: Never say never. But I’ve developed so many other skills since being out of radio (management, sales/marketing, events, strategy, etc) so a broader challenge would be more suitable for me these days. I’m always up for something unique & exciting.
Mark : Where do you see radio heading in the future ?
Jason: For terrestrial radio, in my opinion, more creativity and more experimentation in key shifts. By that I mean experimentation in personality & presentation styles, creative integration, multimedia, technology, etc.
I think there needs to be a swing back to pushing the boundaries, without overstepping them. With the prevalence of streaming, digital & downloads, I think it will become a necessity for programs to really “pop” to cut through. It will take smart talent and insightful programmers. I’m not sure how sustainable a phone topic/celebrity interview & goss show is in the long term. Consumers can get a lot of that themselves online and the offerings will only increase in the future.
Mark : When can we hear you…..?
Jason: Random Weekend Breakfast shifts… whenever you least expect it!
Mark Hales is former Editor of Radio Today, and Program Director of Nova 91.9.
He is now Music Director and Drive Announcer at River 94.9 in Ipswich, Queensland.