ACRA’s Finalists Fever – #15

Staff Writer

The Countdown to the ACRAs is almost complete! October 18 the red carpet will be out.

There are thousands of hard-working, dedicated and amazingly creative people throughout the radio industry – and every year a small fraction of those people make the short list as a finalist in the ACRA’s.

Today we shine a spotlight on the best of the best:

Ashleigh Brown from 3AW for Best News Presenter – Metro AM. Don Plenty  from ACE Radio. Gail Watson from 3AW for Best News Presenter – Metro AM.


Ashleigh Brown 

Best News Presenter – Metro AM

3AW, Melbourne VIC, Fairfax Radio Network

3AW is home now, but where else have you worked?

I studied Journalism at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst, NSW. After leaving uni I did work experience at 2GB every weekend for about 3 months before moving to Goulburn for my first job. I left 2GN to work at sister station 2CC/2CA in Canberra, where I slowly worked my way up to breakfast news reading. 14 months later I took a big gamble and moved to Melbourne to be breakfast news editor at MTR. Despite the station not working out it was an incredible opportunity. I then landed a job at 3AW where I've been for almost 3 years. 

Tell us about your ACRAs Entry…

My entry is the first bulletin after news broke that Nelson Mandela had died. I was filling in for a couple of bulletins because the breakfast reader David Armstrong had other on air commitments. He was meant to be back for the 9am bulletin but got delayed. At about 840am we got confirmation Mandela had died with the SA president making a statement. Tony Abbott was in studio speaking to Neil Mitchell when it broke so we got his first reaction. It was an amazing feeling to put that bulletin together – with the help of others in the newsroom – and deliver such an important story to our listeners. acras – best news presenter – ashleigh brown.mp3

Alright Ashleigh, your speech – here you can make one.

I'd first and foremost thank my first boss the late Steve Swadling who was the GM at 2GN. He was an amazing support when I first started out and didn't know what I was doing. He had a belief in me, that I didn't have in myself. Then I'd thank my first news director Jane Turner who taught me everything I know. I had some tough lessons to learn at 2CC and she was the perfect teacher. I'd thank my current boss Gail Watson (who is also nominated). She's an incredible support who goes into bat for you and always tries to help you get where you want to be going. And then I'd finish it by thanking everyone I've meet along the way and the great friends I'm lucky enough to have made – especially our little MTR crew! 


Don Plenty

Best News Presenter – Country & Provincial

3WM & Mixx FM, Horsham VIC, ACE Radio Broadcasters

Where did it all start for you Don?

I began my radio career at 5AU in Port Augusta in 1987. For over 25 years I've worked mainly as an announcer with highlights including an 11 year stint at Mix fm in Adelaide and a 7 year stint in Dubai at channel 4 fm and Coast fm. I joined ACE radio on my return to Australia in 2011 and seeking a change I moved into the one man 3WM/Mixx fm news department in Jan 2014

Tell us about your ACRAs Entry…

In my first week of news I covered the Grampians bushfires filing reports from the fire front, evacuation meetings, doing live crosses for SKY news , interviewing assorted politicians (including the Premier of Victoria) and meeting fire affected farmers . Not exactly a smooth introduction to news!

Since that dramatic week life in the 3WM/Mixx fm newsroom has returned to a much easier pace. 


Gail Watson

Best News Presenter – Metro AM

3AW, Melbourne VIC, Fairfax Radio Network

3AW is home now, but where else have you worked?

3AW Melbourne, via 2WEB Bourke, 4HI Emerald, 4CA/Hot FM Cairns and 4BC Brisbane.  While the majority of my time has been in news, I've also spent time in sales, promotions and hosting my own shows.

Tell us about your ACRAs Entry…

I could attempt to give you an inspiring answer about my entry and what it meant to me and others.  However, the honest answer is that the logger tape only runs for 6 weeks, and for part of that 6 weeks I had a cold!  The entry represents what many of us do, just getting on with the job.  Another day, another news story. acras – best news presenter – gail watson.mp3

We are hoping the cold has cleared by now…your speech, if you were able to make one…

The newsreader is only as good as the team around them.  You can have the best voice, but you also need to have something important, accurate, timely and interesting to say. 


Are You an ACRAs Finalist?

If you're a finalist in Metropolitan, Non-Metropolitan, Provincial or Country drop us a line and we'll shine the spotlight on you. Email Blair here.

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