Expat Files : Steve Hart

Staff Writer

Steve Hart is an Australian programmer now looking after Free FM, a Rock station in London, Ontario, Canada. Steve was a finalist in the Best Program Director category in the 2012 Canadian Music and Broadcast industry awards held last week in Toronto.

Today, he writes for Radio Today in 'the expat files'.


After spending quality time with various networks in Australia, I came over to Canada at the beginning of 2007.

I didn’t come over to a position. There were no promises or deals that I swung before jetting over to brace the great white north. A resume, an air check, and a few verbal references, (thank you.)

Network, network, network. Even in doing so, you will hit many walls, and it is obviously going to be a hard slog, no question. There is no trick, identifying your strengths immediately is paramount along with knowing your niche.

Know what it is you want to do, and be good at it. Know what you know.

Look for Programmers and Managers who have vision and seize opportunity. To provide some faith, the North American radio industry has many, many amazing radio minds. The more rocks I turned over, the more genius I found. You just have to keep flipping over rocks.

My first position was created at an all-news-talk station where I found myself anchoring, writing and editing news. Two years later I was offered a Program/Operations position for a cluster of music stations, and two years after that the opportunity to launch a brand new frequency in one of the most competitive markets in Canada.

So, what might appear initially to be a desolate, cold and heartless business in a foreign country, can end up being the best move you ever made.

Be fearless, and know that any errors and misgivings you made of past will be exposed, and like most of you who are still in the industry, you accept that most errors are due to misplacement and/or inexperience in your vocation. Just as long as you learn from them, because if you are honorable, have integrity and are trustworthy, opportunity does arise. With persistence, patience and all the above, the move can make you a better person, a better programmer, and define placement in the industry you love.

Constant self-improvement, self-analysis and re-invention of one self all goes toward a better future in the industry. For programmers, it is expected that you possess a black book full of amazing talent, and have the qualities to coach a morning show to be the best in your market.

That you know when and how to allow the station to breathe, and be its own animal. Pending on your position in the market and economics, most networks agree that you are programming and managing to win a marathon, not a sprint. However, both short and long term success planning is key to every radio business model.

It is expected every person hired has aspirations; a night announcer looking to do Middays, a Music Director to PD, and as a programmer, your success planning incorporates the opportunity for them to have it.  

Drive, is exactly what you need when heading overseas in this business. I can only speak on behalf of the country I am in, and like Australians, most do not suffer fools. They employ game changers, not game players.

When in another country, you must possess everything that a citizen of that country already possesses in the industry, plus 10 degrees more.

Be the point of difference. 




Steve Hart is an Australian now programming Free FM in Ontario, Canada.

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