Getting a job in regional radio
You might’ve heard, Melbourne is a pretty great place to live. This means a few things: outstanding art and culture, a superb community radio scene and more sports than you can poke a stick at. But because Melbourne is so good, jobs are really competitive, meaning young people wanting to crack into the media industry might need to move away to land their first big gig. We asked a couple of ex-SYNners who’ve made the move to a regional area to share with us some of their tips and tricks for landing a job in a regional area. We spoke to Alice Walker, Tim Hammond, Jess Pantou, Eddie Williams & Alex Darling.
What was the first month like?
TL;DR: The first month at work will be full on. It’ll be challenging to move away from your family and friends. You’ll learn A LOT.
“I’d performed the same job before at ABC Ballarat, but coming into a whole new state, with different politicians, organisations, places and history and suddenly being responsible for a daily program meant I needed to pick up a lot as quickly as possible.”
“It’s gonna be so intense but oh my God so, so worth it.”
“I’d never lived out of home before, so moving 500km away from everyone I knew into a town of the 12 people that I worked with at the station was pretty hard.”
“It was kind of “the blind leading the blind” for a few weeks, while we tried to figure out what on earth we were doing, and how we wanted the show to sound.”
“The most difficult bit in the first month was making friends and learning to live independently – unlike in your job, you don’t get help in that area.”
What is the best thing about going regional?
TL;DR: There’s always something to do. You’ll get a lot of skills in a number of different areas. You’ll meet your audience walking around town. You’ll develop a bit of a soft spot for your community.
“Regional media is also a lot more community-focused, which means building networks can be very rewarding.”
“One of my favourite things is having people walk up to me in the middle of the street, just like ‘hey Jess I love that thing you did last Monday you had me in tears it was so funny,’ that sort of thing where you get that contact with your audience is awesome.”
“You get to work in a small team which means there’s always a lot to do and a lot of opportunities to try things that aren’t necessarily part of your formal job.”
“You’ll also very quickly develop a sense of pride for your area, as you find out the things it does well compared to the rest of the country.”
What is one thing that you’d tell your past self if you were about to move regional?
TL;DR: Pack well. Get involved in your new community early. Just do it.
“There’s only so much you can tell yourself, you just need to get in there.”
“You need to get stuck into the community as soon as you get here.”
From your perspective what skills are wanted at the moment in your area of radio production?
TL;DR: Have a diverse range of skills. Be organised. Working in radio doesn’t mean you just do radio – you’ll do it all.
“Versatility. People who can do it all – producing, interviewing, social media, audio recording and editing, video.”
“I think most radio stations are looking for people who are versatile, reliable and learn quickly.”
“Website production – I write articles you’d expect of a newspaper journalist in addition to my on-air work most days.”
“So I guess having knowledge of every single area, not being an expert in every single area but knowing how to do everything to the best of your ability is what’s gonna get you noticed for a regional job.”
“To get a job in radio production you just need to be passionate about it.”
What were the steps you took inside and outside of SYN to strengthen your application?
TL;DR: Put together regular airchecks and send them out. Get as much feedback on your work as you can. Put your hand up for as much experience as possible. Investigate the Southern Cross Austereo bootcamp.
“I emailed people asking for experience or casual shifts, and met up to ask for advice – which led to experience at ABC Ballarat.”
“All I did was email people going ‘I suck, you rock, how do you rock, do you mind if I ask you some questions?’ and then just follow that up.”
“But the biggest thing you can do to strengthen your application is work on your airchecks and send them out to as many people as you possibly can and just wait.”
“Ultimately, I just kept reading news on air. It meant when I finally got the opportunity, the SCA news department was satisfied I could go into the role straight away”
Who did you speak to before putting in an application?
TL;DR: Get to know people in the industry you want to get in to. Ask for feedback on your work. Be realistic about the role and what you can do.
“I knew I wanted to work for the ABC, so I made as many contacts as possible. It started with one – a producer my sister knew. She led me to others, who led me to others.”
“Once you’ve got that contact, or base of friends or colleagues, within an industry, particularly the division you want to go into I was just like ‘hey I want to apply for this job. You’ve said I’m good enough for this job, but can I do it?”
What would you say to someone from Regional Australia getting a job in Regional Australia?
TL;DR: Get out there and explore Australia. Get as much experience as possible. Be willing to move around.
“Explore a different part of Australia, and get to know our diverse country better.”
“Call up your local radio/TV station and tell them you’re interested – it works a lot more frequently than in urban areas just because they’re always short of staff”
“Be willing to move I think is the biggest thing especially in a company like SCA, the idea of staying in your hometown is probably a little unrealistic.”
Any other killer pieces of advice that you’d like to pass on?
TL;DR: Put yourself out there and don’t be afraid to self-promote. Rejection is common. Produce regular airchecks of your work. Show initiative.
“Don’t stress if you get a lot of rejections.”
“Come with ideas, and share them. Show initiative. When I got my first casual producing stint, I was told that was what had made all the difference.”
“Probably at the end of the day the person who’s best for the job will get the job, but it doesn’t matter how good you are if no one knows who you are.”
“So every time you go on air at SYN, make sure you’re grabbing that log and you’re making your best bits and sending it out to as many people as possible because that’s what’s going to get you noticed.”
Read a text only version of this blog here.
Alex Darling joined SYN in 2013, and for the next two years rotated in roles on Panorama, News and Represent . For the last two months he’s worked as a Radio journalist covering news in Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour for radio stations part of the Southern Cross Austereo network in NSW.
Eddie Williams was at SYN from 2009 to 2014, and was involved in The Awkward Stage, Objection, SYN News, Panorama, Represent and a couple of seasonal shows. He moved to Canberra in April 2014 to work at a talkback radio station called 2CC, where he’s now the producer of Breakfast with Tim Shaw.
In her time at SYN, Jess was involved in a bunch of different flagship programs and her own seasonal program called Take That. She moved to Mount Gambier, South Australia in December 2015 to co-host Breakfast at 96.1 Star FM.
Alice Walker was the Executive Producer of Art Smitten and SYN’s Radio Manager before moving across the country to Western Australia to join the team at ABC Great Southern.
During his time at SYN, Tim was involved in the Awkward Stage, Objection (now Amplify), Get Cereal, a few seasonal shows and 1700. He also worked as a trainer for accesses, the Awkward Stage and led school tours. Tim is now working at hit107 in Adelaide as a Breakfast Imaging/Audio Producer.