I walked into a radio studio for the first time when I was 8, it was at that point that I decided that that was what I wanted to do with my life. It didn’t matter to me where or how I was involved I just knew that that was what I was going to do.
Originally I was just hanging out in the studios of my local community radio station while my friend Matt, who was a few years older than me, presented an Australian music program. I got to press the button on the cart machine which played all the sponsorship announcements and station I.D’s, all the important bits that he had to play between songs.
I guess a big part of that interest for me came from the fact that I’ve been playing guitar since I was a toddler, so I love music. When I was 16 I went out on my own and started presenting my own show. I dragged myself through school every week, hanging out for Thursday afternoon when I got two hours on air playing the stuff that obsessed me for that week.
I worked out pretty quickly if I was going to work in music radio it had to be with Triple J because no one else played any decent music as far as I was concerned. The other thing I knew was that Triple J was a part of the ABC and so I’d do anything to get in any door I could find at the ABC, hell I’d clean toilets if it meant I could meet someone who might give me a radio job.
In 2002 I found an in… I wrote a story for Heywire the ABC’s rural youth program. I was about to head off into the big wide world to study, I was terrified of leaving what I knew but also bored out of my brain with my routine because Bega was possibly the most boring brain dead place in the world. I honestly entered Heywire because I wanted them to get me a job at Triple J but, I learnt so much over that week in Canberra.
Firstly I learnt that I wasn’t alone, heaps of the kids there were leaving home to start studying. Some of them were travelling so far that maybe they would get home to see their family once a year, I was a days travel on the bus from mine. Secondly I realised I had it pretty good, I lived on the beach, my family were surviving financially, both my parents are still alive, all round things were pretty ok. Others had families that were being forced off the farm because it was losing money and couldn’t survive in the drought. Most importantly though I made a whole lot of friends, many of whom have found me on Facebook (remember Facebook didn’t start until 2005 so they had to find me years down the track… and they did)
These days I’m a few months from finishing a Masters degree in Journalism and I’ve had contract positions with the ABC in Hobart, Melbourne and Horsham in Western Victoria. I’ve also worked Casually for the ABC here in Bega. Winning Heywire taught me to believe in myself as a writer, showed me how good life really is and introduced me to a whole lot of cool young people who like to talk about life as a young person in rural Australia and think about what it all means. It also means that every time I apply for a position with the ABC I can say ‘I’m a Heywire winner.’ Honestly, interview panels look at me with a different light every time I say that because it probably means I can write and it definitely means I am someone who likes to engage in my local regional community.