My 2TM debut & the localism of broadcasting the Tamworth Country Music Festival

Radio Announcer | Writer

There’s a lot you can learn as a radio announcer by being local, and there’s one place you’ll learn this the best from—Tamworth, NSW. 

I have been an announcer at 92.9/2TM Tamworth coming on two years, learning so much about the ins and outs of regional radio—from being able to take on any role and work in a team, to sharpening my own sound, on-air skills and finding a brand for myself.  

While itchy feet to keep moving forward to my next opportunity is a real thing for me in this stage of my career, I’d be silly to not embrace what it means to be a part of this community.  

The reason why Tamworth is the best place for this is, because there is no other station in this country that has its own ten-day music festival. This is a festival that was founded by members of 2TM back in 1972: the Tamworth Country Music Festival (TCMF).  

There’s a lesson in every experience 

From the first week back to work after the Christmas holidays, to the first day of the festival, there was never a moment we weren’t busy. With the experience of one festival under my belt already, I already knew there was some things I needed to let slide. In terms of a work-life balance, work was the priority! 

My main tasks aside from working on-air for our sister station 92.9fm, was in filming and producing the live performances in studio. I shared them to social media and our websites, giving our listeners the opportunity to feel a part of the intimate space that is the 2TM studio.  

Being behind the camera for these performances, was a privilege and had me covered in goosebumps, often shedding a tear silently as the almost angelic voice of a true star, Felicity Urquhart played ‘Chain of Joy’ before me.  
The time I spent sitting in for these interviews also gave me the chance to understand how an interview should sound, and the research needed for it to flow. I believe the same way an artist shows us respect by showing up on time, is the same way we should show respect to them by doing our research. 

Importance of localism 

As 2TM has just finished broadcasting through 10 days of the TCMF, knowing that our many listeners have been able to be witness to the incredible talent and events happening over this festival, is a great feeling.

We brought the festival to our audience by filling the airwaves with non-stop Australian country music, ‘on the street’ interviews and outside broadcasts. Our coverage for 10 days had us live on 1287 2TM from 6am to 9pm most days, pooling together help and resources from our festival partner Optus, to bringing in Central Coast country music announcer Ronnie T to be a part of our live coverage. 

Our local presence was an incredible feat, broadcasting live at the Tamworth Regional Entertainment Centre (TREC) for the Concert for Joy, a massive celebration for the ‘Grand Lady’ of country music, the late Slim Dusty’swife, Joy McKean.  It was incredibly important that 2TM be a part of this sold-out celebration, and was covered by our 2TM afternoon announcer Sally-Anne Whitten, a local and musician performing through the festival herself. 

2TM’s golden moments 

Perhaps the most special part about our entire involvement of the 2020 Tamworth Country Music Festival was our coverage of the CMAA’s Golden Guitars.  

Because of the history of 2TM and this festival, it was so special that the station was able to be a massive part of interviewing the nominees on the red carpet and then the winners backstage live as they came out. 

There were many parts involved to make this a successful night of broadcasting, and our golden moment was in the team that came together to make it happen. 

We had our program director, Jarrad Brooke, producing and anchoring the red-carpet coverage back at the station from 5pm-7:30pm, editing the interviews myself and Ronnie T took, while our newest member to the team, journalist Annie Lewis, live blogged the event as it unfolded. 

It was then from 7:30pm, Ronnie T and I broadcasted the entire event live with great assistance from team member Geoff Dunn. 

2TM’s golden moments were plentiful this night.  

We spoke to a humbled Brad Butcher, taking home a Golden Guitar for Alternative Country Album of the Year, Travelling Salesman; a speechless former 2019 StarMaker winner, Blake O’Connor with the New Talent of the Year award; a proud Fanny Lumsden and Dan Stanley winning best Video Clip of the Year, with many more winners in their categories proud to have a Golden Guitar in their hands. 

During the night, the inspiring Joy McKean was inducted into country music’s most prestigious award—the Roll of Renown, inaugurated by 2TM in 1976. As she entered back stage with the Chairman of the board responsible, Max Ellis, of course, another golden moment for 2TM was being able to interview both of these incredible people. 

And to my surprise, my co-host, Ronnie T was so beside himself with the honour of speaking to Max and Joy, his eyes grew wet moments after they left. 

My golden moments 

Working at a live event in this capacity is something I have never done before. While I already had one TCMF under my belt and made a lot of incredible connections and contacts from the previous year, I knew ‘preparation’ was going to take on a whole new meaning to pull it off. 

Throughout my early shift from 6am-12pm, and the entire afternoon, I was researching and preparing notes for my cue cards, so not to be caught out as unprepared. It wasn’t until just after 11pm did we finish up on-air, making the day an incredibly long one. I was proud of my stamina, and my ability to be well researched, and knowing when to rely on the support of my co-host. 

As I work on-air on 92.9, undoubtedly this as my 2TM debut was a golden moment for me. 

 loved being able to share words with each of the winners, moments after their win. 

I watched a very deserving Felicity Urquhart of 5 golden guitars, plus a writing credit on a sixth—absolutely just soak up every moment with her two daughters and peers, after an incredibly tumultuous year losing her husband and their father Glen Hannah to suicide. 

But it was when I spoke with Joy McKean and Max Ellis was the moment I realised the privilege that was being in Tamworth in 2020 broadcasting on the station that started it all. 

I was, in fact, living the localism in that golden moment with my incredible team, breathing the fabric of the community with each winning announcement on 1287 2TM, and even now as I reflect on the 10 days that have past, I know this is something I will never forget. 

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Recent comments (4)
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5 Feb 2020 - 7:12 am

Its really nice to read your recollection of your experience this year. You have an insight to my life (and a small group of others) having worked in the TCMF since it’s inception (I was involved with my family) and in some cases even prior these official 48 years! It makes people like me, and Max Ellis who gave me my first job in 1979 at 2TM, much heart knowing there are people with passion and interest who care about what the TCMF means not only to Tamworth but to the country music industry and to Australian tourism.
Well done Jess and all at 2TM. Thank you

Michele Cox
5 Feb 2020 - 8:19 am

Wonderfully written & what an experience

Dan King
5 Feb 2020 - 10:06 am

I switched on when I drove into town this year and it was real radio doing all the right things. Also a great presence from both brands in market, heartening and a real. Shades of a 650 WSM congrats and a good read this morning RT

Max Ellis
6 Feb 2020 - 4:00 pm

Max Ellis

How exciting it is to see Radio 2TM backing country music and its especially heartening to see the enthusiasm and the real interest your young staffers have in “our” station’s musical tradition. That tradition goes back way before I started at the station in 1966, back to local heroes like Buddy Bishop, Geoff Brown and Michael Cooke and of course those great broadcasters Mr Hoedown, John Minson and Kevin Knapp who compered the awards from their inception in 1973 right through to the 1980’s. And of course all our other 2TM people who worked so hard to establish the Australasian Country Music Awards and the Festival that we set up around it. Keep up the good work Jess and Ronnie T. It was great to talk with you at the Awards and I’ll look forward to catching up in the future.
P.S. You can find the history of country music in Tamworth on my website


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