The ACRA provincial news nominees

Rod McLeod

Anyone who has bemoaned the quality of radio talent these days hasn’t taken a look at what’s going on in the provincial markets.

Again it’s been reflected in this year’s ACRA nominees. They’re all amazingly talented journalists and newsreaders, who deserve the recognition.

Rod McLeod is no stranger to the ACRAs. In a career spanning almost 30 years, the voice of the Gold Coast has been nominated eleven times and has collected eight awards.

Far from being blasé about the job, Rod says he still loves what he does.

“The thing with being a radio presenter, and the one that I enjoy, is that there’s always going to be news the next day. There are always going to be fresh and new angles to attack a story with. That’s part of the challenge of being a radio journalist that I really enjoy”.

“I often get asked ‘how do you deal with all the bad news’. We’re human like everyone else and we deal with bad news stories all the time. You have to realise that it’s part of the job you do and you can’t too emotionally involved with the story. Thankfully, there are a couple of others here with a black sense of humour and they get you through the day”.

“And technology has provided a major shift in doing the radio journo job. We are far more efficient in getting our news out there. We have the whole spectrum of social media platforms. So, the old adage that radio is the only ‘instant’ medium is redundant. We are part of the whole ‘instant news feed”.

Penelope LierschNominated alongside Rod is a former colleague, Penelope Liersch, who has since left SCA to become a freelance TV journalist for Nine on the Gold Coast.

“TV has probably been my ultimate goal and something I have a real passion for. But along the way, I found radio and loved every minute of my time with it.

SCA gave me my first job, while I was still at Uni, at Albury in 2014. I was then offered the opportunity to move up to the Gold Coast to work in a bigger radio market.

Radio is definitely a really good training ground. The amount of copy you have to produce under the time pressure of every half hour really sharpens the skills.

So, I definitely haven’t closed the door on radio. I’m chasing this dream for a while, but I’ll see where I end up”.

Hayley Turner is a first time finalist and from the Sunshine State. Approaching 20 years in radio, she’s worked in Cairns, Toowoomba, Canberra and the Gold Coast. She can now be heard in Maroochydore.

“I was about 18 or 19 when I went for a promotions manager job at Gold FM on the Gold Coast. I didn’t get that gig, but they rang me back the next day and said ‘hey would you like to go on air’. I thought ‘yeah, I’ll give that a whirl’ and I’ve been on air ever since”.

Hayley Turner“I love my job, I really do. Even if every story isn’t a passion of mine, it’s not about me. I truly believe that each listener has the right to hear it read as best you possibly can.

I mean, I’m not a big fan of sport, but I know that there are people out there who are dying for the scores. Its important to them and the things that I’m interested in just don’t matter. I try to remember that as I ready each story and each bulletin”.

Sacha Barbour got her big radio break with Nova Entertainment at Star 104.5 Gosford but has now made the move to Sydney to join the team at ARN as the Breaking News reporter and newsreader. She credits her move up the radio career ladder to forming connections and finding mentors.

“I studied journalism at Macleay College in Sydney and that’s where I met Deborah Clay. I ended up doing a week internship a 2Day FM. It was through radio lecturer Matt de Groot that I did an on-going internship in the newsroom for close to a year”.

“When I finished up (at college) I kept interning. I wanted to get straight into work, but knew it would be a bit of a process. A role with SCA opened up at Port Macquarie in September 2014. I was there for four months before I was offered the breakfast role at Star and I was there for 18 months. It really has been a great couple of years”.

Sacha Barbour“I love my new role being ‘being on the road’ but I would like to be a news director at some point in my career. What Matt de Groot did for me, in terms of guiding me through study, my internships and into my job, I’d like to do that for others”.

Rounding out our provincial News Presenter finalists is Kate Rice from Mix 106.3, Canberra. Formerly part of the Nige and Kate breakfast show, Kate is a multiple winner at the ACRAs.

Sea FM Gosford newsreader Emily O’Brien is also in the running for an ACRA, but not in the news-presenting category. She’s a finalist as Best Newcomer On-Air provincial.

“I was quite surprised when I heard that I was a finalist. It’s flattering to have all your hard work recognised, I guess. All credit to Troy Carey. He’s been such a great boss in supporting myself and my colleague Sean Fraser, who does the news for 2GO. 

We’re both young journalists and Troy has been incredible. Always doing air-checks with us and our content director and always encouraging us to be the best that we can be. He’s always been a supportive boss”.

Kate Rice“I haven’t really had that much time to think about where I want to end up. I guess, in terms of long-term career goals, it would be to stay in the industry whether that be as a radio journalist or in TV”.

“But making the most of different opportunities and become the best journalist and news presenter that can I be. Being credible and well respected. Starting at a young age and getting those strong work habits is important”

Good luck to all our provincial News Presenter finalists.

Next we’ll profile those finalists in the Metro FM category and again some very familiar names are in the running.

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