Let’s do Breakfast


For every Breakfast radio show host who complains about the early starts, there’s a Breakfast newsreader saying “Hold my beer.”

It’s sometimes easy to forget that the news team’s been head down, bum up since 4am.

“There’s nothing natural about going to bed at 9pm and being woken by an alarm clock at 3am. Anyone who says they love it is either a liar or a freak!”

 So says Geoff Field, who’s refreshingly candid when it comes to the ridiculously early starts that go hand in hand with being a Breakfast radio newsreader.

The former Kyle and Jackie O news presenter has spent around a quarter of a century setting his alarm for what is commonly referred to in newsrooms as ‘stupid o’clock.’

Geoff tells Radio Today “I can honestly say that as much as I loved the shift, I hated the hours.”

Radio Today spoke to four experienced Breakfast radio newsreaders about the demands of the shift and asked their advice on how to cope.

Geoff – who recently returned to casual shifts at Sydney’s 2SM – has these tips for journos who are  starting out:

 1 – Try to avoid dinner invites or anything that could end in a late night Sunday to Thursday.

 “The strange thing is when I started with Kyle and Jackie O, we were invited to everything, but I soon learned it wasn’t worth feeling like death the next day.”

“Save your nights out for Friday and Saturday!”

2 – Do not nap.

“If you are tempted to get some shut eye in the afternoon, it can often come back to haunt you because you will still feel wide awake at bedtime.”

“When you do go to bed, don’t look at your phone, and get into a routine with a cup of tea and dim the lights.”

3 – If you are a journalist, look at the 6pm and 7pm news bulletins so you know what people are talking about in the morning.

4 – Try to limit your long lunches.

 “Trust me, you will regret it the next day.”

5 – Have everything ready to go the next morning

“Hang your clothes up outside and put your shoes and socks out so you won’t wake your partner, limit your time in the shower and bathroom so you won’t be late for work.”

6 – When you get to work, get straight into it

“Time is of the essence. The two hours from 4am till 6am were never a time for chatting or web surfing – things have to get done.”

7 – Be tolerant of those that get more of a sleep in than you

“I can remember Kyle and Jackie getting into the studio on the dot of 6am and complaining how tired they were – I said nothing as most of the newsroom had been in since 4am!! LOL.”

Patrina Jones is another person well-versed on the demands of the Breakfast news shift.

The newsreader for The Christian O’Connell Show on Melbourne’s Gold 104.3 says preparation is key. Coffee doesn’t hurt, either! Her tips are as follows:

1 – Don’t go into the morning blindsided

“Be across the stories that ran the night before AND the angles.”

2 – Write one bulletin ahead

“You will have the luxury of time to write breaking stories.”

3 – Take a positive attitude to work

“Your on-air team will look to you as the ‘gel’ and being first in the studio will set the morning’s tone.”

4 – Have an acute knowledge of the demographic

“Trust your instinct and lead with the stories that impact them most.”

5 – ONLY run audio if it ENHANCES the story.

“Don’t just run audio for the sake of running it.”

6 – Routine is essential but don’t let the tight deadlines cause panic … “We’re not performing open heart surgery!”

7 – Caffeine!  Did I say caffeine?   

Nikole Gunn – Breakfast news presenter on Melbourne’s smoothfm 91.5 – has spent a sizeable chunk of her 30+ years in radio on the early shift.

Nikole says looking after yourself is key.

“Eat well, drink plenty of water and get plenty of sleep.”

“My wise old Scottish grandmother used to say ‘never try to rob the sleep bank because it will always foreclose.’ And she was right.”

Beyond the physical aspects, Nikole says it’s important to know your stuff and be prepared.

“If I’m online and checking ‘what’s happening,’ I will screen shot articles and put notes in my forward file.”

“I have stuff stored away right through to the end of the year: court dates, cricket tours, council meetings, movie releases, etc. It can really help on those ‘slow’ news days.”

Nikole’s final piece of advice is about the craft itself, and it comes from her dad, who was a print journo:

“He told me ‘anyone can be taught how to write, but (in an interview situation) no one can teach you how to listen.’”

“Listen to the answer and don’t rush to the next question on the list.”

Monique Dews presented news across three Breakfast shows during her time at Brisbane’s KIIS 97.3, most recently alongside the team of Robin Bailey, Terry Hansen and Kip Wightman.

Having recently left ARN to take up a new role with Adoni Media, Monique says one thing she definitely won’t miss is that dreaded early alarm.

As far as coping with the demands of the brekkie shift, Monique offers the following tips:

1 – Hydrate and hydrate early

“When the alarm goes off at 3.30am the temptation is to get an instant jolt and grab a coffee. My advice is to refrain for a while and have a lukewarm glass of water with a squeeze of lemon or lime.  The zing will wake up your vocal cords and clear out your sinuses.”

“A caffeine hit before going on air is the Breakfast newsreader default but I find milk can coat the throat and impact your sound clarity, so black coffee is best if you can handle it. Your voice is your instrument so show it some daily lurve.”

2 – Embrace the micro nap

“I find the ‘mini nap’ when getting home after a Breakfast shift my secret sauce for energy. Just 20 minutes is all you need to recharge.”

“As newsreaders, we are sometimes dealing with sad or disturbing details and it’s good to process that information, and reset our brain ready for the next wave of news to come.”

“It also means you don’t have to go to bed so early at night.”

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Recent comments (4)
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chuck tuna
3 May 2023 - 9:02 am

and some of these news guys could paid really really well as well

Abbey Smith
3 May 2023 - 10:21 am

I’m currently doing the early news shift with no caffeine for a charity challenge. Surprisingly haven’t died yet.
Agree with all of the above.
It’s definitely a lifestyle at the end of the day.
We do it because we love it.

Michael T
3 May 2023 - 10:32 am

At 2DayFM Geoff just sat in the news booth and got called names by Kyle all morning.
I’m not sure how laying his socks out the night before helped that, but good luck to him.

3 May 2023 - 2:18 pm

Concur / 30 plus years


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