From newspapers to radio: “They thought I had a whingeing voice”

Fairfax Radio star Neil Mitchell from 3AW

Making the leap from print media to radio can be daunting, especially if you’re thrown straight in the deep end.

Top rating Melbourne talkback host Neil Mitchell vividly recalls his foray into radio after having spent years working in newspapers.

“I was just thrown in – I never got any advice from anybody on how to do it! I might have told them to stick it, but I never got any advice from anyone.”

In a News Corp interview this week, the 3AW veteran says on his first day, the switchboard lit up with calls from listeners who didn’t like the sound of his voice.

“Even when I was saying happy, positive things, people thought I was complaining. They thought I had a whingeing voice. That was the main criticism we got for the first year.”

Mitchell rarely listens back to how he sounds on air, and that works well for him.

“I want to be natural. I’m not an actor.”

Those with TV backgrounds can also find radio challenging.

Richard Wilkins recently shared his experience of learning the radio ropes after decades in television.

The smoothfm host tells Radio Today “It’s a completely different skill set. I really wanted to learn how to use my voice to connect with people.”

“It really is very different to sitting in a TV studio or standing on a red carpet somewhere. I was very fortunate to have Peter Clay (smoothfm’s head of programming) who really helped me. We spent a lot of time in the studio, and he coached me on how to do it.”

Over the past thirty years on air, Mitchell says the biggest lesson he’s learnt is to simply be himself.

“If I’m angry, I’m angry. If you are emotional, show it. Don’t focus too much on how you say it, worry about WHAT you say, and be real.”

“Remember who you work for: Your audience.”

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29 May 2022 - 10:54 am

Quality radio content – Quality broadcasters are few and far between – Sydney radio is not the best – need another good talk back station minus the ads and useless information – need a sports only radio station for the weekends for those who thrive on weekend sport.


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