10 Questions with Rob Kidd

Star 101.9 Mackay’s Rob Kidd is staring down the barrel of 25 years in radio.

It’s a job that’s taken him around the country and has included stints at Triple M Melbourne, Vega 91.5 Melbourne and 4MK, 4CC, 4TO, 4BU and 5MU.

The self-confessed “fitness try-hard” and father of two has a deep connection with the community of Mackay, and a work ethos that revolves around “making one person smile each day”.

He answers Ten Questions from Radio Today.

  • What is the Rob Kidd ‘story’? Where did you get your start in radio?

I started doing community radio in 1994 with 4CRM after having chats with Wayne Wilson and Jim Dolan here in Mackay. Seemed easier to do than working in the mines, but how wrong was I?

I got accepted into AFTRS in 1996 and landed my first on-air gig at 4BU, and have never looked back!

  • What prompted the move to far north Queensland?

I’m a Mackay local. We moved here in 1980 from Sydney as a kid and have made Mackay my home for nearly 40 years.

I’ve worked all over Australia and I’ve always returned to Mackay as it’s my base and my teenage kids are here. Three years ago, an opportunity to do breakfast here at Star came up and I grabbed it with both hands.

  • Is it really any different from life in a capital city market (apart from the wildlife and weather)?

Mackay is so different from my time in Melbourne. For one thing, it takes me 10 minutes travel each day to work. Five minutes each way. Compare that to when I was in Melbourne and it was nearly four hours each day on public transport.

I prefer the former. The weather is so much better, the community is brilliant and knowing this place like the back of your hand is so vital.

Sure, Melbourne has every event and show under the sun, but there’s always a plane that can get me there.

  • So, what’s the gig at Star? 

My gig here at Star 101.9 Mackay and the Whitsundays is primarily Breakfast with a host of digital integration thrown in, community work and planning.

Having re-branded as Star from Zinc a couple of years ago, it’s given us a new and exciting level of listeners to be part of their day. I love it.

  • What’s it like having to broadcast through a cyclone? 

Ten months ago, Tropical Cyclone Debbie came to our region and hit us all hard. She came through with so much force; there are many homes, business and properties that are still affected.

For nearly a week we didn’t leave these studios in Sydney Street. If we weren’t on-air in the studio with details of Debbie, we were outside reporting live on-air. And in between, trying to catch a few seconds sleep on the floor.

Our team of five worked around the clock to keep our community informed and entertained at the same time.

So much destruction, pain and suffering for so many people. Hearing their stories and sharing them with our listeners and followers was a privilege. Very similar to my time in Gladstone doing four days straight by myself in the times when Oswald and Marcia came to say g’day. Who knows what is in store for us now, as we’re still in cyclone season.

  • Any other moments where you thought, “Yep, this is it, this is why I do this job”?

There have been many of those moments in my career. I’ve always said if I can make someone smile, I’ve done my job and I stick by that.

Having a chat with our local Larkin Ray, who’s in an electric wheelchair, gives me one of those moments. Dressing up as Santa for the kids at Rosella Park School in Gladstone was a highlight. Making Pauline Hanson cry talking about her time in jail lets me know I’m doing a good job. Helping raise money for a local two-year-old angel who has been hit for six with leukaemia puts a smile on my face. There are too many to mention.

  • Was there any one person who influenced you and your choice of career?

I used to listen to Jim Dolan, who was on 4MK at the time, and was amazed how he got paid to do what he did.

He gave me guidance to apply for AFTRS and start the ball rolling. Jim, with the likes of PD John Inglis and legendary jock Chris Roe all had a hand in starting my career off.

  • Was radio always what you wanted to do ‘when you grew up’ or did you harbour other ambitions?

I’m 50 on May 17 this year, and looking back I had no idea what I wanted to be, let alone do. I pinch myself each day that I get to do what I do now.

I left school completing Grade 10, got my first full-time job sweeping floors in a factory and worked up to a sales manager and did that for ten years. Radio took over and I’ve been doing it for 24 years now.

  • Any advice for those starting out in radio? 

Ask plenty of questions with those in the game now. Call them. Leave messages. Talk to them.

Talk to the Dave Williams’ (Triple M Melbourne) of the world, talk to the Tanya Simpsons’ (Nova Entertainment) and get a feeling on why they love their craft and are the best at it. Get them to tell you what drives them each day and work out if you feel the same.

I’ve never looked at what I do as a ‘job’. It might sound clichéd but it’s true. I get paid to get up at stupid o’clock and make people smile each day. For that, I am blessed.

  • Are you set for life up north, or could you be tempted back south (or west)?

I moved back to Mackay three years ago to be closer to my growing kids. I’m set up here right now with my huge mortgage and vegetable garden, but would I ever leave again if the choice were there? Never say never.

Remember it may not be up to me. The tap on the shoulder could be just around the corner. It will happen to us all. I’ll be wherever I’m happy and part of the great community.

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