Radio’s best regional newsreaders on the key to local news

The local radio station is the mainstay for communities across the country, and the top newsreaders across country and provincial markets were recognised at this year’s ACRAs.

Regional radio and its presenters aren’t just a source of information. They also play a vital role in keeping listeners ‘connected’.

Radio Today caught up with the winners of Best News Presenters Country and Provincial Michael Prevedello and Renee Criddle, as well as nominees Sarah Boorer, Emma Elsom, Tonia Liosatos, Rebecca Daikan, Rod McLeod, Travis Winks.

Michael Prevedello

2GN’s Michael Prevedello is a two-time ACRA nominee. He fell into radio via a job posting with the CES in the early 70s. He’d just left school, was working track maintenance on the railways when the job came up.

“The CES contacted me to say there was a cadet journalist’s job at the local radio station (2GN Goulburn). I applied and got the job. It was 4 years of on the job training, learning to type, voice development, a little bit of shorthand and of course news reading training.

“The thing I like most about what I do is the thinking of and the creation of stories and the contact that involves with people to get the material. The people I work with are great! It’s also a bit if a buzz when listeners come up to you and make comment about my work.”

Sarah Boorer

Sarah Boorer initially moved to Bathurst for study, but found herself at 2BS & B-Rock for work experience. It eventually led to an on-air role in news.

Sarah recently left radio to take up a position with P&O in Sydney, but hopes to return to radio one day.

“I just love how dynamic the industry is. PR is a whole new beast and with that, there are different challenges, which I love, but there is something so special about hosting a show and having that relationship and connection with your audience.

“I mean, there aren’t many jobs where you could chat with the Premier of NSW, then your local member, the mayor, a community organisation and a school all in the same shift; the only way I can describe it is special.”

Emma Elsom

Emma Elsom says she ‘annoyed the hell’ of her local radio station 3HA Hamilton until they gave her a job. That was in 2002 and her radio career has taken her around the ACE Radio network. She’s now reading news for 3WM Horsham.

“I love working in Horsham. I’ve been here on and off for 14 years and if the ‘story well’ is dry, I have friends, clients and colleagues that I can call and say ‘what’s going on’ and I can find a news story or two out of that chat.

“I believe it comes down to hard work. Work hard and you’ll get in. Work harder and you’ll get where you want to.”

Tonia Liosatos

After starting her journalism career as a cadet at The Canberra Times, 2EC Bega’s Tonia Liosatos launched her radio career at ABC 666 in Canberra.

“I fell into news, working my way through university I somehow ended up as a copy-kid at The Canberra Times, delivering hamburgers and packets of Winnie Blues to the subs. I started interviewing touring rock stars for the music and entertainment pages and ended up being offered a cadetship.

Renee Criddle

Renee Criddle is another her found her radio calling after starting out as a print journalist. It’s a skill particularly handy in regional markets, where it’s not just ‘reporting’ the news.

“The pressure is on from start to finish. In Breakfast, it starts with the rounds – calling the police, ambulance and fire brigade to check on any incidents, and then trawling through the wide variety of local, national and international issues of the day.

“I research, investigate, write and present every news bulletin live with the aim of getting the most up to date information out to the Illawarra. I feel privileged to have the task of keeping the region informed about what’s happening in our town – and in our world.”

Rebecca Daikan

Rebecca Daikan reads Breakfast news for 102.9 Hot Tomato on the Gold Coast. She says the opportunity to work in commercial radio came about after time in community radio.

“I wish I had some romantic story about how I landed in radio but it was just one of those things where all the pieces kind of fell together themselves.

“While I was studying, I just decided to try out a radio journalism course for fun and I really loved it. So, I had a crack at getting a gig at my local community station for some experience while I was studying.

“Then by a stroke up luck the station I work at now, 102.9 Hot Tomato, actually reached out to that station asking if anyone was interested in some casual work and they suggested me! That was over seven years ago and I’m still at Hot Tomato doing the Breakfast news.”

Rod McLeod

Also from the Gold Coast is Rod McLeod, who has a number of ACRA wins under his belt. He’s been plying his trade for 30 years and says he still gets a ‘buzz’ out of it.

“I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘scoop’ journalist, although I have broken a few stories over the last 30 years. I’d like to be considered as being ‘reliable’ for delivering news and information clearly and accurately.

“News is attractive because it affects the decisions we make in our lives on so many different levels. Done well, radio news can elicit a response not only from an informative perspective, but on an emotional level as well.

“Personally, I love the process of ‘The Story’. The ‘Oh, wow, that’s big’ to the ‘OK, how’s this going to work best on air’ to ‘who can we track down for reaction’ to ‘sh*%t, there’s 90 seconds left till the theme goes off!”

Travis Winks

The late a great Rod Tiley ‘took a punt’ on Wave FM’s Travis Winks after he’d done countless hours of work experience in the 7News Brisbane.

“I had done one radio subject at uni, had a couple of practice sessions with Rod and before I knew it I was LIVE on Triple M. It was a great example of learning on the job. I will be forever thankful to Rod for taking the punt on me back in 1999. Since then my career has taken me to ARN Sydney, ESPN in the United States and to here in Wollongong.

“Sports journalism is my roots but having co-hosted the Wave FM Breakfast show for 7 years up until mid last year when I moved across to Breakfast news, I honestly had the dream of one day co-hosting a Breakfast show in Sydney.

“Returning to news has reinvigorated me, lit the journo fire again and whilst I’m currently focused on improving Wave FM’s news service both on-air and online, I would like to one day head up news for Grant Broadcasters nationally.”

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