In 2014 I was interviewed for a job I was severely under qualified for. It was the role of ‘National Video Producer’ for the afternoon show Dan & Maz on the Today Network. I got it. This was the beginning of an amazing journey. I had never wanted or aspired to be a video producer but here I was.
I had been an employee of the network for about 4 years up until that point.
WHERE DID IT ALL START?
I had come straight from radio school and in 2010 I started as a casual pushing buttons for NXFM in Newcastle NSW. My job was basically to watch a screen and make sure everything ran smoothly. We took a feed from Melbourne and my job was to make sure that from 4pm – 10pm that feed was broadcast to the people of Newy.
12 months of radio school and $12K and my job was to push 2 buttons. I knew in my heart this was a long game. I needed to knuckle down and work my way to the top. My goal was to be the next Kyle Sandilands. I wasn’t in the biggest rush but I did have my sights set on the top job.
Over that four year period of trying to get on air I realised a few sad realities. I wasn’t ever going to get the job I wanted. I wasn’t going to be the next Kyle. The industry had determined that at best I would be the gossip guy who would do red carpets and be a character on a breakfast show. I had an absolute blast playing these roles and I think I ultimately type cast myself within the Industry as the loud gay.
The moment came when I realised It wasn’t going to happen. At least not within the radio industry. The industry is a machine and I didn’t fit the mould of ‘the radio guy’.
This was a blessing. I didn’t it realise at the time and I hated life. I was now in Adelaide as a breakfast producer aka phone bitch. This was the worst job I ever had. I wasn’t cut out for it, I didn’t want to do it but it was all that was on offer. I was the worlds worst producer. I wanted to be on air, I wanted to be creating the content not organising it and getting no credit for it.
This was my lowest point. I honestly hated my life and I couldn’t see a way out. I was difficult to work with and put in no effort. My boss had to really push me, which she did, I hated her for it. She taught me so many valuable lessons. She taught me to believe in myself and not just sit around and wait to be ‘discovered’. She pushed me at a time I needed to be pushed but didn’t want to.
Then she left. I was relieved in a way because I just didn’t have the energy to be pushed anymore. However now I was on my own. Now I had to be my own fan club.
I lasted about 2 minutes and collapsed in a heap. I was done. Thats it, I thought, radio is over, pack it up and go back to retail.
Then a small lifeline was offered when in true industry fashion a bunch of important people were laid off. It was our digital team. No longer was our online/social media guy needed apparently.
That’s where I stepped in. I started filming the breakfast show and editing little videos and posting them online. There was no pressure to achieve results and I did this on top of being the phone bitch. It was a lot of work but it was fun and I was so passionate about it. I wanted to succeed.
I finally had my own creative outlet. I worked hard and I began to take on more and more responsibilities. I was updating the website and writing articles that were getting 10’s of thousands of hits. I started to get some attention from the big bosses and they asked if this was something that interested me. I had honestly never thought about where this would lead. I told them Id love to keep going in this role and one day land the role of a video producer for a big national show.
I was happy again and I had a focus. The lessons I had been taught to fight for myself had become clear and I knew I had to be my own fan club. I made it clear what I wanted even though I didn’t really know if I wanted it.
Next minute I was asked to interview for a position in the top job. I job I had no experience in, I hadn’t studied film or video editing I had no experience, or so I thought. It was for the ‘National Video Producer’.
I went into the interview and was totally honest. I told them I couldn’t use their editing software and that the cameras and gear made me terrified. I told them that if this job had come up 18 months from now then I would be comfortable applying.
A week later I was told I had the job. I was blown away. So excited. I was moving to the biggest station in our network to produce the biggest show in the network. There was nothing higher than this role. I was shitting myself!
The pay was fucking awful. I had to pretend I was ok with it but it was the same wage I was on in Adelaide as a phone bitch. I was devastated but thought to myself in 12 months i’ll be able to get a pay rise as long as I do good work. That pay rise never came, I was doing a good job and I was happy so I didn’t push it. It was 3 years before I saw any more money.
I had worked my way up to be an average video producer. I wasn’t a film maker so I didn’t have the technical know how but what I had was knowledge of how a radio show worked and I was able to use that to understand how to get the best content out of the shows I worked on. I understood all the roles of the team as I had done most of them. I knew what an EP expected of me and I knew how to handle the talent. I also knew what audiences want to see.
I hate talking myself up, it makes me feel uncomfortable but at that time I was an anomaly. I was a radio producer who had studied radio and learnt the ins and outs of the industry who then became a video producer. That doesn’t happen. These days video producer have a strong video background and haven’t had the years of experience within the industry. I had a complete and total understanding of radio and what bosses and staff wanted.
I worked on shows building their socials from scratch and learned a lot about building an online community. I remember my manager at the time said I should start my own channels and build my own profile. I had honestly never really thought about it. So I did. I just started. I began to slowly grow my channels and began making content for myself. It was so fun.
I was making my own content and edited content for the shows I was working on. I was immersed in content creating.
Then I started getting offers from other companies and I was finally able to see what I was worth. I used that to my advantage and was able to double my salary within the space of 12 months.
This is when things really took off and I started working myself to the bone. I lived at work and it wasn’t healthy. I was making content for myself at an alarming rate and editing content for the show I worked on. We managed to grow the show socials into the most successful the network had ever seen and I was riding a wave of success. The on air ratings were terrible but our socials were strong. It didn’t make much sense but I was so happy where we managed to get our social numbers.
Then like anything it all came crumbling down. I was under immense pressure and had taken on a workload I couldn’t handle anymore. I was doing the role of 2 people at work as well as trying to keep my stuff going at the same time.
That coupled with a high pressure breakfast environment caused me to implode.
Thankfully my dramatic resignation wasn’t accepted and my boss worked with me to help understand what was happening and how I got into this mess. It was a product of my doing. Not really the fault of anyone but my own.
That lead to me working with one of the greatest teams I’ll ever work with. I was the video producer for the Carrie & Tommy radio show. This was the first show that really embraced me and I was given so much respect from the entire team. We flourished. This was the proudest I have ever been about my work because our success was shared by each and everyone of the team. I was given the freedom to perform and also I was trusted to in my job.
I was finally content and at a place where I was happy at work and happy at home. My own channels were growing, I had management and I was earning some money from my own content. I was then asked if I wanted to do a live show and began to tour the country. I signed a deal to write a book and I was working on a TV show with a close friend as well as playing a tiny role in a big feature film (1 line, back of my head was on screen)
Slowly my own work was getting more and more involved and I found myself torn between two amazing jobs. Working on a show that brought me so much joy or working for myself and growing my brand.
I decided to make the jump and leave radio. A decision that was hard but also easy. I haven’t look backed.
The social media space is massive and the opportunities are insane. In the last few months I have been able to do things I would never have imagined. Im so thankful to all the people that have made me the idiot I am today.
Being able to make this leap isn’t because I’m strong willed or confident. It’s because over the last 9 years in radio I have met and learnt so many valuable lessons about how to talk to an audience, how to be your own cheer leader and just understanding peoples perspectives.
Im so lucky. I owe the success to so many different people. I get asked frequently ”How do I become successful online?” I don’t have an answer, there isn’t a formula.