10 Questions: Mike Byrne

Staff Writer

Mike Byrne has just moved from River 94.9 to be the new EP and anchor of Mix 106.5's new breakfast show, Sami Lukis & Yumi Stynes.

The show starts tomorrow – see here.

Radio Today's Mark Hales chatted to Mike to find out his background, we discover his alter ego, and the main challenges facing him in his new role.

Q1: Tell us a little bit about your background, which stations you have worked and doing what ?

Mike: I was assy enough to get into AFTRS way back in 1989, then scored my first gig at 2RE Taree doing nights and Saturday Arvo horseracing. Then I did the usual country road trips through Grafton, then Nowra where I was part of the launch team for Power FM.

Then the launch of Triple M Adelaide in ’93 where I worked with a very young Black Thunder pilot called Mark Hales (I knew he was destined for great things).

Mark: That was a fun time, especially because all the jocks used to come out in the Triple M Triple Thunders and hand out free stuff with us. They loved it !! 😉

Mike: Then to 2DayFM in ’95 where I got the programming bug from Brad March and Rob Logan. I was lucky enough to score my first PD’s gig at NXFM in Newcastle in ’98 and apart from a short stint at B105 I spent the next 7 years there and loved it.

In 2006 Brad March poached me over to ARN as PD for Gold104 in Melbourne then in 2007 I was brought up to Mix1065. In 2008 I was “resigned” and headed to Queensland for a “tree change” programming River949.

Last year Duncan Campbell and Ryan Rathbone (left) made me an offer I couldn’t resist and now I’m back at Mix as part of the team building Mix1065’s new breaky show with Sami Lukis and Yumi Stynes.


Q2: What do you enjoy the most, being on-air or programming behind the scenes ? And what are good/bad bits of both ?

Mike: I love both actually. I got bored being a music jock back in the 90’s so thought I’d try my hand at programming but I’ve never really been an off air PD, I’ve filled in or done a shift at just about every station, sometimes been on air on both stations I was programming at the time.

As such I developed an alter ego called Barry Graham to do shows on the older format stations like Gold and KOFM. You may have heard Barry… he’s a legend… although he’s in semi-retirement now calling bingo at Twin Towns Services Club. Sorry… did I answer your question???

Q3: What do you believe are the main challenges facing you in your new role as producer and anchor of the new Mix 106.5 breakfast show ?

Mike: Shutting the f%#k up. It’s Sydney’s first female breaky duo and last time I looked I was a bloke so the main challenge is to just press the buttons, direct traffic in the studio and let the girls deliver cracking stories.

I’ve been lucky enough to work with some of the great anchors like Skip at B105 and Holmsey at 2Day so I’ve learnt a lot from them. If I can be half as good as either of them I’ll be happy. I’ll check that I’m still a bloke before we do our first show on Tuesday.

Q4: It can be difficult at times to balance both anchoring a show and producing it, how will you approach that ?

Mike: I’m lucky that I have 2 of the greatest radio brains of our time working closely on the show. Duncan (Campbell) and Ryan (Rathbone) have helped the team set very clear roles for the entire team so have a good understanding of what my role is both on air and off. Having said that I intend to become a massive diva and chuck huge tantrums if I don’t get my way.

Q5: What's your strategy behind working breakfast hours ? To day sleep or not to day sleep ?

Mike: I never day sleep. I will have a massive liquid lunch then go to bed early… 7 days a week.

Q6: What was the best thing & worst thing that ever happened to you in your career?

Mike: Just getting the chance to learn so much from some of the best at Austereo, ARN and Grant Broadcasters. I’ve also really enjoyed being involved with AFTRS over the past 20 years. And working with some of the craziest people alive. Radio tends to attract some nutbags and I’ve worked with some of the best!

The worst has been all the moving around I’ve put my family through. And getting the sack a couple of times.

Q7: In 10 years what will you be doing ?

Mike: Sami, Yumi and I have made a pact that we’ll be on air doing breakfast on ARN sister station WSFM in 10 years. Not sure that Katy Perry and Rihanna will be on the WS playlist though, but Jonesy and Amanda will sound great on 2CH… which is the natural progression.

Q8: How do you un-wind and escape the work pressure ?

Mike: Well until recently it was tending to my acreage property in Queensland but now I’m working in Sydney I’ll be spending lots of time on planes. Lucky I’m a dedicated aerosexual and love to do a bit of plane spotting. I also like to run along deserted beaches, bushwalking and helping old ladies across the street.

Q9: What was the last radio station you listened to ?

Mike: 2UE. I listened intently to the new Dicko and Sarah breakfast show… their news reader is very good. Hope he wins an ACRA. Seriously though Sydney is the world’s most competitive radio market, so respect to anyone who takes it on but I’ve always tried to be competitor aware, not competitor focussed… god that’s such a wanky radio line.

Q10: The future of radio is…….

Mike: in good hands. Despite all the doom and gloom about the industry I’ve lasted 20+ years and as long as you remain passionate and open to change it’s a rewarding career.

Providing we can continue to deliver compelling and engaging content we’ll be a continued force.

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