Damien Leith: Why I love working in radio


Going on tour whilst holding down a Breakfast radio gig takes a bit of organisation, but for Damien Leith, it’s all in a day’s work.

The former Australian Idol winner recently wrapped up several weeks on the road as part of his Through the Years tour, relishing the chance to sing to live audiences and reconnect with fans across New South Wales, Victoria and Tasmania.

It’s light years away from his former life as a chemist.

“It’s been really, really good. I’m on a bit of a high actually,” Damien tells Radio Today.

Damien describes the tour as a celebration of the last 17 years – lots of original songs and crowd favourites mixed with more recent material, including his latest single Superhuman.

During his time on tour, Damien continued to entertain the Illawarra region each weekday morning as part of the Wake Up with Jade & Damien Breakfast show on Wave FM 96.5, before flying out on weekends to perform.

Whilst admittedly a bit of a juggle, he thrived on the challenge … and the adrenaline rush.

“Thankfully I’ve got a great team that I work with at Wave FM. They work around me on a Friday to get me out, get me to the airport.”

“The Friday’s a long day – you’ve got an early start. And then straight to the airport, and straight to the show.”

“But for me, when I get on stage, I get energy from somewhere, and that always kind of carries me through.”

Damien says radio was always something he wanted to get into.

“About five or six years after Australian Idol, I think was the first time I mentioned it to my wife. I said ‘I really like radio. I’d really love to get into it.’”

“And so it started with that kind of idea, mainly because I love to talk. Anyone who’s been to any one of my shows would know I do as much talking as I do singing on stage. So it’s kind of a big part of who I am.”

Damien – who’s already won two ACRAs during his time on air – says radio feels like a natural fit.

“I mean, it’s been a learning curve as well. Going into radio, thankfully I’ve had some great people help me along the way.”

One person he credits as having had an important influence on his radio career is Glenn ‘Stolzy’ Stolzenhein.

“My first stint was with Stolzy for two years at Power FM in Muswellbrook, and he was not only a great on air partner, but a great mentor as well. He really took me through the ropes and taught me the ins and outs of doing Breakfast radio, and what’s involved.”

“It’s been an incredible journey so far. I absolutely love it.”

As for the future – and how he’d feel about landing a cap city radio gig one day – the sky’s the limit:

“You know what? I’m a pretty ambitious person.  I’m aiming as far as I can go. I want to keep improving and better myself all the time. If that opens up doors in the future, I certainly wouldn’t be brushing it away.”

Despite a recent suggestion to the contrary, Damien says Australian Idol set him up for the life he enjoys today.

“Absolutely. There’s no doubt in my mind. When I was on Australian Idol, I had my day job and I gigged at the weekends. When I went on Idol, everything changed.”

“The day job kind of went to one side, and opportunities started coming my way.”

“You know, it’s not a perfect formula – the show and how it’s presented – but what it can actually give you is amazing.”

“For me personally, just the fact that seventeen years later, I’m still doing it, touring around, and there are still people coming to the shows … you know, that’s testament to what Idol has actually done for me.”

As far as Damien is concerned, Idol was a great launching pad.

“I even put radio down to it. If it wasn’t for Idol, maybe I wouldn’t be doing Breakfast radio with Jade and Deano in the morning. And that’d be a real shame if I wasn’t.”

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