Where are the next Great Female Radio Stars?


Where’s the next Wendy Harmer, Jackie O, Kate Langbroek, Amanda Keller, FiFi Box,  Meshel Laurie, Robin Bailey, Chrissie Swan?

I was talking to a very experienced talent manager the other day. They commented on the lack of great female radio talent coming up through the ranks.

That thought was mirrored by a key metro Programmer recently also. There are women on air of course, but they were talking about the next level of stars, those with experience, real star power, great communicators, the ones that are interesting, unique and have that X Factor. Feisty, assertive, smart, driven woman with something (a lot) to say!

Across metro and regional markets there are some outstanding women on air, but there are many, more men. Why?

My question to networks is what consistent opportunities are they giving interesting women with potential to develop?

By that I mean, where the women are not just a side kick, weather girl, laugh track or part of a ‘male team’ as the token female.

Amanda Keller has been a star of breakfast radio since starting out with Andrew Denton in the 90’s and now on WS’s breakfast.

Robyn BaileyRobin Bailey is the star, front and centre of the 97.3 breakfast show and recently had one of the most compelling, emotional and authentic breaks I’ve heard on radio.

Wendy Harmer was the ground breaker, hosting Sydney’s number 1 FM breakfast show on 2DayFM for over a decade. She wasn’t part of the show she was the star of it.

Jackie OJackie O has been co host of Kyle and Jackie for 16 years and put simply Kyle couldn’t be Kyle without Jackie! Jackie has enjoyed extraordinary ratings success in breakfast, drive and nights.

Tracy Bartram had outstanding success with Matt Tilley at Fox. As did the talented Jo Stanley who’s now on weekend breakfast at the Hit network..

Fifi Box is a major star in one of the best more recent breakfast line-ups at Fox.

Meshel LaurieMeshel Laurie has that great unique star power quality at Nova Melbourne breakfast.

Chrissie Swan showed what a breakfast star she is whilst at Mix Melbourne and now appears weekly on Fox and Kate Langbroek is a breakfast and drive radio super star.

Brigette Duclos is a breakfast stalwart of Melbourne radio as was Dee Dee Dunleavy. Lisa Shaw has starred on both breakfast and drive in Perth and topped ratings for ages.  None of them hold back, they have a lot to say and people listen.

There’s also Kate Ritchie at Nova, Heidi Anderson at Hit92.9, Jane Hall at KIIS, Jodie at Mix Adelaide, Maz Compton on 2Day, Natalie Locke at Nova 937 in Perth, Cat Lynch on Hit107 and others.

For those women who have make it to metro markets, radio is very lucrative, demanding, fun and rewarding. And it has its challenges.

Amanda Keller of the WSFM breakfast show said;

“I can’t speak generally for women, but I thank my lucky stars every day that I work in radio. There is no greater way of expressing yourself, and interacting with an audience  on a daily basis. It’s not for the fainthearted. In some other forms of media women are perhaps hired based on their appearance. On daily radio, if you’re not cutting the mustard, you’re no good to anyone, no mater how good you look, or how famous you were before getting behind the mike. It tests and expands your broadcasting skill set every day. It’s a daily challenge, and I love it.”

For those wanting to replicate Amanda’s success it can take years in regional, or developing in off peak radio.

Tanya HennesyDave Cameron Southern Cross Austereo’s Head of Content for the Hit Today Network disagrees on a lack of great new female talent.

“I’m not sure I agree. Personally I can think of just as many on air females as males impressing me. Already sitting in metro with so much potential to really break out are Emma Freedman, Ash London, Heidi Anderson and Cat Lynch. All smart, strong and funny, and all doing radio in their own style. Our regional network also has Kristy Mercer, Sophie Tiller, Tanya Hennesy, Rosie Panetta and others.

Not to mention superstars not currently on air like Em Rusciano.

To say there’s a lack of female talent is to not be looking hard enough”.

Next in  Where Are The Next Great Female Radio Stars?, we hear from Wendy Harmer on starting out on breakfast radio, 2DayFM’s Content Director Irene Hulme names some great new future radio stars and KIIS’s Jackie O talks about the importance of being open, honest and relatable.

Brad March is a Director of Radio Today a former Program Director, Group Program Director & CEO of Austereo and Group Programmer at ARN. He is Director of Marchmedia

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