It’s a vibe: Sean Brown on why there’s nothing wrong with asking for what you want in your radio career
AFTRS Alumni and The Hit Network’s Sean Brown hosts Mornings on 106.9 in Newcastle. He regularly fills in on the national Saturday Night Playlist. And he hosts his own music interview podcast The Vibe. But he has his sights set on a National Nights program. Being a friend to the music stars of today and tomorrow. The next Molly Meldrum, if the stars align. And he’s not afraid to say it.
Throughout the course of my chat with the Hit Network’s Sean Brown, who’s also an AFTRS alumni, a few things come up multiple times.
His love of music.
His love of broadcasting.
His love of his partner – KIIS 106.5’s activations manager Mariam Belle.
And his goal of hosting a National Nights show focused on music and the stars behind the songs. Not the gossip. Not the scandal. Just the music and its makers.
Indeed the National Nights show comes up more than anything else.
Brown says he has worked in three states in the three years he’s been in radio (Riverlands in South Australia, Hobart in Tasmania and now Newcastle in New South Wales), and he wants to always be evolving, striving for that Nights program.
“I feel quite happy with the path I’ve taken, but I think you need to be careful you don’t get stuck. In this industry, you’ve got to really let people know what you want. I’m always adamant that I love being a Workday announcer. I love Southern Cross Austereo. I think they’re such a great network to work for. But I think it’s really important to always ask questions and let people know what you want out of your career and where you see yourself going. There’s so many great mentors around, and I think it’s just important to reach out to people as well as just get advice… You’ve just got to ask questions. Everyone started from nothing.”
Should he achieve his dream of a National Nights show, ideally he’d be showcasing RnB music, his original passion and a genre which is perhaps underserved on Aussie radio right now, he says.
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“My biggest passion is RnB music and I feel like there is really a gap in the market [for that]… I’d love to host an RnB show. In our network, RnB Fridays is such a popular thing. And we’re so well known for it across the world. Everyone’s heard of RnB Fridays, especially in Australia.”
In this ideal world, he’d craft his on-air persona and approach to artists around the likes of Molly Meldrum and Zane Lowe.
“The whole reason I got into radio was because of my passion for music. I love Molly Meldrum. Molly Meldrum’s been one of my idols since I was a kid. And I always said going into radio, one of the reasons I wanted to do it was I wanted to be Australia’s next Molly Meldrum. No one does it like he does. He’s really good at building relationships with artists. And he doesn’t just go for gossip… People like Michael Jackson and Madonna, they loved him back in the day and they’d always chat to him, because they knew he wasn’t trying to get the dirt, he just wanted to talk about their music and their craft.”
He also sees these traits and qualities – and the ensuing respect from record labels and their artists – in his other idol, Lowe.
“He’s so well respected in the industry. He kind of built that through his interviews. So I think for me at the moment, it’s [about] building those relationships with the record labels, with the artists and becoming known as someone who’s not going to take advantage, who’s going to have a good chat, who’s going to ask questions that you wouldn’t usually think of, but show that you’re interested – not the basic questions, questions that show you’re interested and you’ve done your research.
“And hopefully one day that will expand into me having a show and having people knowing that ‘I will get a good chat with Sean Brown, so let’s get him on that’.”
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In addition to his gigs on air, Brown’s training ground for his dream is his podcast, The Vibe, which features extended interviews with artists. The podcast is, he says, an extension of his radio show, allowing for in-depth conversations which in their entirety, may not be suited to radio.
It also gives him an outlet for what he dubs the “music nerd” side of his personality, where he can unpick the sounds, the feelings and, if you’ll allow me to be so obvious, ‘The Vibe’ of songs.
“For me, it’s a passion project. And that’s how it started. But I would love to expand The Vibe into something bigger – whether it be some sort of a show on the radio like a Nights show,” he says, again noting the dream which has been finding new ways to creep into the conversation.
“I guess at the moment it’s kind of just something I’m just building slowly and then eventually I would like to turn it into something more than that.”
And anyone with similar dreams, he says, just needs to risk it for the biscuit.
“I think you’ve really just got to hustle and you’ve got to really want it. You’ve really got to put in the time, put the work in, because if you’re not doing that, then there’s going to be someone that does, that wants it more than you that is putting that time and hustle in….
“Just start sending emails out. Start asking questions. Start building relationships and just, as lame and cheesy as it sounds, you’ve really just got to believe and just back yourself and just get it. Just do it. Just put yourself out there… Put in the time. It’s so fulfilling.”