Tim Lee on how he got to where he is today
Tim: I’m excited about this …
Daryl: Great, so let’s hear the Tim Lee radio history to present day story …
Tim: I started at 92.9 in Perth. They were running a competition called ‘search for the radio star’. I submitted a tape and it was to go on air with Orion Kelsal. And I got down from hundreds, to the final three. I lost that competition but because I entered and I became known to the staff I started working in the Street Team. I went from Street Team to promotions to show production to panelling to floater to weekends to doing their weekly OB at the Sunday Session. Then I got the night show in Perth which was local, and then they networked Lowie’s Hot 30 and I lost my job. Then I thought, ‘bugger it’, I’m gonna make it big over East.
So I got in touch with someone at FOX and she said, yeah come on over and we’ll give you some casual work, so as I drove across the Nullarbor to Melbourne with my Girlfriend, by the time I arrived in Melbourne (so in that week), that person had left and I didn’t have a job. And I had to start from nowhere again, build myself back up again. And then up to Sydney to co-host the Hot 30 nationally for 3 years then back down to the FOX for nearly three years and now I am at ARN – MIX 101.1.
Daryl: Were there ACRAs in there?
Tim: There were 3 noms and 1 Win.
Daryl: So you pretty much decided to leave the FOX at the peak of your on air career, talk us through that decision.
Tim: The first part of my career I worked really hard and built up a good reputation for myself, and then the second part of my career I shat on that and systematically made mistakes as an employee, made mistakes as a friend, made mistakes … gee, even as a boyfriend. So my whole life started to go south. I got to a point where I had self-sabotaged so much at SCA and made so many mistakes and been given so many chances to redeem myself that it just got to a point where there was no future there for me. It got to a point where I thought that I didn’t want to work in radio anymore and I thought if I quit … I’ll jump, and I’ll let the Universe catch me and there will be something out there because I’ve worked in radio for such a long time and people who work in radio have so many different skills so surely another creative field would want to employ me. And so I quit … and I jumped … and the Universe didn’t catch me and I landed on the concrete … Because of the things that I had done over the previous 3-4 years, why would anyone want to hire someone who is quite opinionated, aggressive, all the things I didn’t want to be.
I was out of work for six months, and then I took this job and within the first two weeks I realised that it was the ‘old Tim’ that didn’t want to work in radio but after some time away from it I realised that it was a great industry that I still had passion for.
Daryl: What have you learnt working in the digital space at ARN?
Tim: The learning curve has been crazy! I’ve had to learn content management systems (CMS) I’ve had to learn how to write basic HTML and a really big learning curve is that on air, you talk and that’s your bit … But online, you’ve got to tailor something for the web, and then you’ve got to work out the tone for social. Then from a social point of view, Facebook has a totally different voice to Twitter. If your station has an Instagram account then it needs to have a bit of ‘behind the scenes real person’ feel about it. So with one piece of content, you have to think about chopping it 4 different ways. That’s been a very interesting learning curve. Coming from an on air position where you simply turn on the mic and you have 28 seconds and it was just one way to deliver the content. Now I’ve got to think of essentially 3-4 different ways.
I have learnt that, previously as just an on air person, I didn’t work much. (laughs)
I REALLY didn’t work much … even the days when I would have been in the office for those 5-6 hours, ahhh, I was not doing anything. (grins) Prep is watching YouTube videos and reading gossip sites. I’m actually ‘working’ now, first time since The Hot30 Countdown.
It’s a really good time to be in digital because ARN in particular have really shined a light on digital and what it means for the future. They have made some big investments. We are getting more resources, we’re getting more on air time from the Talent. And I love it because you still get to be creative. You’ve gotta action what your on air team are talking about but there is still so much room for creativity. I love complimenting what on air is doing.
Daryl: For someone who grew up on air, now you have made the transition to behind the scenes digital content, tell us your view on the digital space in radio?
Tim: Well it’s an extension. Even the way you sell content. So when you post it on Facebook you do the 80/20 rule that you would do on air forward selling. Like, “Hey coming up the artist who was seen at an L.A party on the weekend riding a donkey around … I’ll tell you who it is and play that artist in a three minutes …” It’s the same thing online, so you just put a mask over their face and go, “Who was this artist riding a donkey at an L.A party on the weekend? – click to find out …” It’s the same thing.
Daryl: Do you miss being on air?
Tim: Craig Huggins asked me when I arrived at ARN, “How long is it going to take you before you are back on air?” (laughs) At the time, on air was the last thing that I wanted to do. I associated it with a time of my life that I wasn’t necessarily happy, so I didn’t want to do it anymore.
Now, I’m thinking a little bit differently and my content director, Whippy (Brendon Dangar) has let me do some weekend shifts. Which started out as a way for me to earn a bit more coin as I am now a father that quickly spiralled into a reignited passion for on air. Which has now become a full blown passion and I would love to do an on air shift with my old co-host Carla ‘Biggzy’ Bignasca on ARN. If anyone in management is reading this, please make it happen (laughs)