KIIS 101.1’s Ben Erbsland
Radio Today’s Mark Hales caught up with Ben Erbsland.
Ben does weekdays on KIIS 101.1 in Melbourne. Apart from covering off where and when he got his break, Ben talks about the prep that goes into his shift and what it takes to be a great jock in one of Australia’s toughest markets.
And what’s this thing about some Adult movie?
Mark : What got you started in radio?
Ben: When I left high school I really didn’t know what I wanted to do but the one thing I did love was house music. So I set myself up with turntables and some vinyl records thinking I was going to be the next DJ! Because of this I also spent a lot of time listening to Fresh 92.7 and soon applied to be a member thinking they may give me a gig spinning records. I was stoked when they gave me an Insomnia shift from 1am to 6am even though most of the callers were on the cans and often slurred what song they wanted to hear. However, I was soon shifted into a brekky show once a week which I kept for nearly five years. Loved it.
Mark: You studied at the Australian Radio School in Adelaide. Didn’t you get some award?
Ben: Yep! The school had just been taken over by Sean Craig Murphy and Mel Greig and I was lucky enough to receive their very first scholarship.
Mark: Three years ago you first featured in Brad March’s FM Radio’s Top 20 Hot New Talent (see here). In that list you were at your first breakfast gig at Hot FM Mackay. What happened before, during and after that on your journey?
Ben: As I mentioned before, I had been doing a weekly brekky show with Michael “The Love Machine” Case on Fresh 92.7. Soon after joining the radio school though, I picked up a casual position at SAFM (Now Hit107) before Nova 919 took me on board for a development show and as a floating announcer. In fact Mark, you were my PD to start with at Nova.
Mark: Yes I remember well. At the time I thought you would go far – great natural talent and fantastic attitude.
Ben: However, I really wanted to have a crack at breakfast radio and I made the decision to go regional. First doing breakfast at Hot FM Mackay with Courtney Ganderton and then breakfast in Albury at Star 1049 with Kristie Mercer.
Mark: Why the jump from shows to solo announcer?
Ben: When ARN approached me and said they wanted me as part of the on-air line up to launch KIIS 101.1 in Melbourne, I nearly wet myself. How many jocks get the chance to launch a cap city station? That’s why I went for it.
Mark: Which do you prefer?
Ben: I do love being part of a group show. The creative freedom is amazing and I always got a kick out of people remembering a sketch we did or something like that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy and learning so much where I am but if my boss is reading this, wink wink. Haha
Mark: What is the best lesson you’ve learnt during your announcing career so far – and who taught you that lesson?
Ben: I’ve learnt so many from so many people! Sean Craig Murphy and Dan Bradley in particular though have been amazing mentors for me. I’ve learnt to understand that radio is a rollercoaster – it has highs, lows and everything in between. I recall Sean once saying “just strap yourself in and feel the G’s baby”. If he says he didn’t, he’s lying.
Mark: You’re now on for 6 hours (9am – 3pm) on KIIS 101.1 in Melbourne. Describe a day in the life of Ben.
Ben: I have a daily meeting with Derek Bargwanna and Brendan “Whippy” Dangar. We go over the day, everything from music and comp spots, to brekky sells and local events. I then look at my shift and see where I’m going to place everything so it’s balanced and how I’m going to push it on air. Once I’m on air though, I see what callers come my way or other ideas and will shift things round. Most of all, I just try to have fun!
Mark: When you step away from work, what radio people or radio stations do you listen to?
Ben: I grew up loving Tony Martin and Mick Molloy. Their comedy and sketches were bloody awesome! I still have their ‘Eat Your Peas’ CD somewhere. I also love Fitzy & Wippa, Hughesy & Kate, Kyle & Jackie-O and Jono & Ben from The Rock in NZ. My missers is a kiwi and got me onto these boys. They’re mean as!
Mark: How do you un-wind and escape the work pressure?
Ben: Just spending time with my fiancé Mel or catching up for a beer with a mate. Pretty simple bloke really! Oh, I do brew own my beer which is quite therapeutic but that just may be me drinking it.
Mark: What is your most embarrassing radio moment?
Ben: A long long time ago, we were pre-recording a segment and idiot me starting talking about a particular ‘adult’ movie clip I had watched the night before in rather great detail. My co-host jokingly said “imagine your mic was live to air?” Yeah well it was and we had a few callers ring the show saying they were enjoying the change (all blokes of course). I’ll leave it at that but thank god it was super early!
Mark: What do you think makes a great music / workday announcer in 2015?
Ben: I really think it comes down to being yourself. Own the music and what you’re pushing, get the best out of your callers, have fun and take a risk here and there to hopefully stand out above the rest.
Mark: If you weren’t in radio, what would you be doing?
Ben: Maybe I’d dust off the turntables or try to sell my homemade beer I make in my garage.
Mark: In 10 years time, what do you think you’ll be doing?
Ben: I’d really like to see how far I can get behind the mic but one day to step into a PD role and give upcoming talent the same chance that someone took on me would be awesome.
Mark Hales is former Editor of Radio Today, and Program Director of Nova 91.9.
He is now Music Director and Drive Announcer at River 94.9 in Ipswich, Queensland.