Sandya Veduri: “I love to tell stories that make a difference”
Sandya Veduri knows better than most the challenges that new migrants face, because she herself is one.
Five years ago, Sandya, her husband and two young children moved to Sydney from India, in pursuit of a happier and more peaceful life.
Today – as a multilingual announcer, audio producer and content maker – Sandya is immersing herself in her passion for telling compelling stories, as Executive Producer of SBS Telugu.
It’s one of five new digital language services launched by SBS Audio this month.
Sandya’s own story is a truly remarkable one.
The eldest of three sisters, she grew up in a small town in the southern coastal state of Andhra Pradesh.
Sandya remembers receiving marriage proposals when she was just 12 years old.
She tells Radio Today “I come from a lower middle-class family where people suggested marrying us off early instead of spending money on our studies.”
“The dowry system is very prevalent in my place,” Sandya explains. “Parents have to spend millions of rupees when they marry their daughters.”
“Despite the prevailing girl-suppressing attitude among the people around us, my mother always insisted on and inspired us to study well and aim for good positions.”
With her father the main breadwinner, Sandya’s mother used to stitch clothes to help support the family.
“My father always taught us to fight and work hard to achieve something in life,” Sandya says.
Sandya has followed this same principle throughout her own life.
When she was four years old, her passion for storytelling came to the fore.
“I used to sing rhymes for whoever asked,” Sandya remembers. “They used to praise me, saying that my voice had so much clarity, and I felt very happy.”
“The radio was the only affordable platform for us to spend time with.”
Sandya says the radio became her guru, teaching her voice modulations.
“I used to imagine myself presenting information in front of an audience. I would be incredibly careful in delivering my answers, ensuring there were no gaps or mistakes.”
After completing a Bachelor’s degree in Electronics and Communications, Sandya worked in the IT field to help her father fund her sisters’ education, even though she really wanted to work in media.
“I fell in love and got married at the age of 24, which is considered late in my culture,” Sandya says.
“My relatives liked to joke that my father didn’t want me to get married until my sisters graduated, since I was funding their education.”
But for Sandya and her husband Lovakiran Kagitapalli, the work-life balance in India was lacking.
The couple found it difficult to manage taking care of their children whilst also dealing with the pressures of Sandya’s IT job.
They decided to make a fresh start on the other side of the world.
After landing in Sydney in 2018, Sandya decided to pursue her life-long passion for storytelling.
She applied to the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS).
“I remember singing baby songs and Panadol advertisements for the AFTRS panel interview,” Sandya says.
She was accepted, and went on to complete a 2-year Graduate Diploma in Radio and Podcasting with AFTRS as a part-time student.
Sandya says it provided her with a solid foundation for a media career.
“The course is highly structured and covers a broad range of content that is essential for working in radio.”
“Throughout the 4 student broadcasts we participated in with Show Radio, 2NRS, AFTRS FM and NEXT FM, I took on various roles such as content producer, producer, audio producer, panel operator, social media producer and promo designer.”
“The shifts were allocated based on a real-time schedule, which greatly aided my transition into getting a job in the industry.”
Sandya derives great satisfaction from her role as Executive Producer of SBS Telugu.
“I love to tell stories that make a difference and help create connection and belonging for communities.”
“At SBS we inspire all Australians to explore, respect and celebrate our diverse world to foster an inclusive and cohesive society.”
“I believe that I can help play a vital role in sharing important information that benefits the local Telugu community, including students and new migrants wanting to successfully settle and live well in Australia.”
Sandya also has a passion for conducting interviews.
“It’s a privilege for me to utilise my voice as a tool to showcase community stories,” she says.
Sandya describes her life today in Australia as remarkably calm and pleasant.
“The country boasts beautiful beaches and an abundance of places to explore. The population is relatively small, and there is a strong adherence to rules and regulations.”
“In contrast, back in India, the sheer size of the population contributes to a bustling atmosphere, and the local media landscape is filled with numerous stories, often with less stringent adherence to media rules.”
“In India, only one or two trusted news channels stand out amidst a landscape where media bias can be influenced by the government.”
“However, the situation in Australia is entirely different, as it is governed by ACMA rules and regulations, with independent editorial policies shaping the media landscape.”
Sandya says she has been fortunate to have some great mentors supporting her throughout her broadcasting journey.
“During my final year at AFTRS, I had the privilege of being mentored by Phil Ashley-Brown, ABC Regional and Local Content Quality Manager.”
“Additionally, AFTRS staff members such as Fyona Smith, Jess Campanaro, Dani Torresan and Tony Rasmussen were incredibly helpful during my course.”
“At SBS, I’d like to express my gratitude to Mick Radojkovic, SBS Audio Media Systems Manager, for providing me with my first job opportunity in radio operations.”
“Lastly, I am thankful for Raymond Selvaraj, SBS Tamil Executive Producer, who has been serving as my mentor, offering valuable feedback for the stories I produce on Spotify.”
“Their guidance and support have been instrumental in shaping my broadcasting journey.”
“I am thrilled to have seamlessly integrated the teachings I received from AFTRS into my current role at SBS Telugu where I get to inform, educate and entertain audiences on a daily basis.”
Sandya says it’s wonderful to be part of a multicultural media organisation serving more than 60 language groups across Australia.
“My ultimate aspiration is to become an investigative journalist, delving deep into stories to uncover valuable insights about current events and inform people.”
*Photo above: Sandya with SBS Director of Audio and Language Content David Hua