Haylee Potts: “I honestly feel like I’ve hit the jackpot”


Haylee Potts still can’t quite believe that she is the proud owner of an ACRA.

Taking out this year’s award for Best Radio Show Producer (Non-Metro) was a true pinch-yourself moment for the announcer and producer at Canberra’s Mix 106.3.

“Nothing will beat the high of that night,” beams Haylee.

Better still, the most important people in her life were there to share her triumph.

“I was so lucky that my parents were in the room as my dad (well known regional content director Duncan Potts) was nominated too, and my partner was also at the ceremony with his podcasting team.”

“To have the three people who mean the most share that experience with me was something that I will never forget.”

Haylee says she doesn’t make radio for the accolades. She does it because she genuinely loves it.

And – as commercial radio in Australia celebrates its 100th birthday this week – she’s as passionate as ever.

Given her father’s long involvement in the industry, it’s fair to say radio is in Haylee’s blood.

She was born in regional South Australia, at Port Pirie, where her dad was working as Breakfast announcer for local station 5CS.

When Haylee was around five years old, her dad accepted a new Breakfast announcer role interstate, and the family moved to Wagga Wagga in the New South Wales Riverina.

“So, my expectations for the sacrifices you make to be a radio announcer were pretty realistic, due to my upbringing,” Haylee explains.

“Wagga Wagga was such a great community to grow up in, and I say to people a lot how lucky we were that radio took us there.”

But while Haylee has been around radio her whole life, it was never something she’d considered as a full-time career.

“Not that I rejected it due to my family connection. It just wasn’t really on my radar. In fact, I dipped my toes into quite a few things after school before finding my way into the industry.”

Haylee began a university degree in secondary teaching, later switching an arts degree, then pursuing print journalism.

“In my second year of journalism, I enrolled in a radio subject and that’s when the puzzle pieces fell into place for me.”

“I applied to study radio at AFTRS and the rest is history!”

As someone who grew up dancing, singing and just generally loving being on stage, taking on a career that enabled Haylee to perform every single day seemed a no-brainer.

Clearly, her dad’s passion for radio was catching.

“I am so grateful to my dad for involving me in his work growing up, voicing ads and teaching me how to tell stories,” Haylee says. “I love being able to share this great industry with him.”

Haylee counts herself incredibly lucky to be doing the work she does.

“To have the opportunity to be part of ensemble shows in Canberra as an Executive Producer and show contributor (first with Bronte & Wilko and now on CBR Wrapped) has honestly felt like hitting the jackpot.”

“While in Canberra, Neil Wilcock and Rod Cuddihy have shaped me to be both a better producer and a better announcer and I’ve been very fortunate to work on a local drive show.”

Next year, Haylee will take on a new challenge as Executive Producer of Hit1047’s new Breakfast show Wilko and Courts, and she can’t wait to get stuck in.

“I think it’s going to be a trailblazer the way that radio shows can connect with their listeners.”

Whilst Haylee believes radio is a great career choice for women, she says the industry was – and kind of still is – a boy’s club.

“I would love to see MORE women in radio, particularly in more management roles.”

“There have been many remarkable women in the Australian radio industry but, compared to men, that number is small.”

But as this week’s developments at ARN demonstrate, the landscape is ever changing.

Jackie O, a woman, just signed the biggest ever deal in Australian radio history!” says Haylee. “What a huge step forward.”

“You can’t be what you can’t see, and young girls are seeing so many more strong, empowering and outspoken women coming through their speakers and headphones.”

“It’s inspiring to follow in the footsteps of the women before me, and hopefully my female colleagues and I can inspire the content creators of the future.”

Haylee understands better than most the importance of radio to local communities.

“Being around radio my entire life, I’ve seen a lot of instances why this is true. I’ve seen radio used to create a genuine difference in the community, from being the driving force behind charity work to being the voice of emergency and natural disasters. “

Haylee had first-hand experience of this from a young age, being there with her dad at the station during emergency broadcasts.

She says the importance of local radio to a community is probably the main reason she wanted to get into the industry in the first place.

“The way that local radio and local talent can make a genuine difference in a community is still the main driver of my passion to work in the industry, if I’m honest.”

“I hope to see local radio thrive in years to come.”

Haylee looks forward to what’s ahead for the industry, saying radio is ever evolving, changing – and ultimately, surviving – as the years go by.

She’s particularly keen for radio move more into a digital sphere.

“Video podcasting and on demand video streaming of a live show each day is what I would like to see.”

“Audiences don’t just want to listen anymore, they want to have the opportunity to see how it works.”

“They also want to interact on-demand with talent and shows. They want to comment immediately on what they hear and see and they want the announcer to say what they’ve contributed just seconds after they’ve posted it. it makes them feel like they are part of it!”

“We have the technology to be more in touch with our audiences than ever and I’m fascinated to see where this will take us.”

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