Zooming ahead: When Covid has a silver lining


When the Covid pandemic hit, businesses had to quickly adapt in order to survive, and the Australian Radio School in Adelaide was no exception.

Owner Sean Craig Murphy remembers it only too well.

Murphy (pictured above) tells Radio Today “In the first lockdown we couldn’t even do our face to face (F2F) courses in Adelaide which meant that to stop the school going under, I had to accelerate and develop an online course that could replicate as closely as possible the F2F experience.”

Not only did Murphy manage to keep the radio school afloat, he also made an important discovery.

People all over Australia and around the world were keen to do the training, and now they had a way to join in.

What started off as merely a stop gap measure during Covid has now grown into a separate 10 week Zoom course that runs three times a year.

And Murphy says they’re now getting more inquiries for the Zoom course than for the F2F course in Adelaide.

“Since the beginning of Covid we’ve had over 100 students train online and almost 20 get jobs in commercial radio,” he says.

Success stories include Lara Jean Marshall (Breakfast co-host at Power FM Ballarat), Katie Wright (Breakfast co-host at Power FM Murray Bridge), Grace Smith (Breakfast co-host Eagle FM Snowy Mountains), Dan Anderson (Breakfast at Kool FM Innisfail) and Jac Cowan (Breakfast at Magic 89.9 Port Lincoln)

Then there’s Kyle Ravin, who’s at ONE FM Singapore, and Ben Carpenter, who recently landed a role with the Rock Patrol at his dream station, Triple M Melbourne.

For Katie Wright (above and main picture), Covid certainly had its plus side.

She tells Radio Today it gave her the space and time to explore her passion for radio.

“I had been touring as a circus artist on the international festival circuit for 10 years and having everything shut down gave me a chance to get online and do this course.”

As a mum, it was handy as well.

“Doing the course via Zoom, my then 5-year-old could just be in the other room giving me that sense of security as he was close by while I was in my class.”

It was a comfortable setting, in more ways than one.

“I would usually do the class in my PJs. This will be a confession to anyone I did the course with and Sean, as I always covered my PJs with a jacket,” Katie laughs.

Katie says the Zoom setting also gave students the chance to enjoy sessions with special industry guests from around the country.

“Before taking the course, I had worked so extensively in theatre, improv comedy and circus which of course is work that is an exaggerated version of yourself.”

“Sean really nurtured me to find my natural voice and practice talking personally to my listeners.”

Shortly after the course, Sean put Katie in touch with Adam Connelly, Content Director at Power FM.

“I went to meet him and the crew at Power FM/5MU studios in Murray Bridge. I was excited. But there were no positions available.”

Katie joined a travelling circus, but – still yearning for a job in radio – she stayed in touch with Connelly.

“I volunteered to sit in a few times and ended up sitting in with my now co-host Craig Pitman. He also encouraged me to keep knocking on the door. So I did, and one day Adam got in touch and said he wanted to put me in the mix as they needed an announcer.”

Katie jumped at the opportunity and hasn’t looked back.

Jac Cowan (pictured above) says she, too, loved attending the Australian Radio School via Zoom.

“It was a life-changing experience and more than just a ‘course a via Zoom,’” Jac says.

“It was a way for all of us to expand our horizons and continue learning whilst surrounding ourselves with like-minded individuals and a wicked teacher during a REALLY testing time.”

“As a collective, we could continue to chase our dreams whilst being in lockdown.”

“Sean was super thorough and a beacon of light throughout that time. I certainly looked forward to our weekly classes.”

Jac says she has the course to thank for getting her foot in the door.

“I’d had a couple of years’ experience in community radio, however doing the Australian Radio School took my skills to the next level.”

“We were encouraged to apply for every job that took our fancy, which is exactly what I did.”

“I was determined to get my first job as a Breakfast announcer, and I wasn’t stopping until I did.”

“I applied for jobs all around the country for about a year straight, whilst working on a Street Team for a couple of months in Cairns and starting my own podcast (Cancer Culture).”

Jac says after a bit of luck – and a whole lot of guidance and determination – she landed her radio job in radio in October last year at Eyre Broadcasters (Magic 89.9) in Port Lincoln, SA.

“Within two weeks, I packed my entire life up in Cairns and boot scooted down the Bruce Highway on my new journey to Port Lincoln,” Jac says.

“I’m beyond lucky for this awesome start in the industry.”

As he prepares for the next intake of Zoom students, Murphy says that ultimately, great radio is less about pushing the buttons and more about content creation and authentic storytelling.

“That’s what we really focus on during the Zoom course,” he says.

“We’re also able to zoom in guests from all over Australia, which is a bonus, and thanks to the boom of small podcasting companies we have more options to remotely record radio demos at the end of the course.”

The next 10 week Zoom Intro to Radio course starts on August 16 and will run every Wednesday night from 7pm to 9pm Adelaide time.

More details here.

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