My journey in media began as a 17 year old at Atherton State High School on the Atherton Tablelands. A good friend of mine, Miss Johanna McKinnon asked me if I would help her commentate the school’s annual sports day, and after her convincing me to do so, we sat in a tent on the oval with two microphones, a desk, no paper, no prep or decent music and talked about random sports that neither of us had the slight interest in. After that muck around day, I thought about how much fun I had just sitting there talking and playing music for an audience who may have found it silly, dumb, great or entertaining. I liked getting the mixed comments from my school peers on the bus ride on the way home; with the negatives and the positives, it spurred my brain into thinking I could do it professionally. That’s how it all started. Since high school, I have gone onto pursue a career in talking for a living, and as much as it makes me laugh to say, I actually got away with it for a while.
My first gig in radio came at Indigenous Radio station 4K1G in Townsville, where a few board members had faith in a girl with no experience but a desire to be on air and speak. To communicate, play music and to have the sheer thrill of entertaining a crowd is what drove me to chase my dream of Radio. I later worked my up from volunteer to full time broadcaster in my few short years at the station and during my career I’ve worn many different hats including a co-host, sole breakfast announcer, weather lady, producer, music director, production, copy writer, and radio student.
To date, I have had the pleasure of broadcasting as an announcer around the country nationally, regionally, and locally on many different radio stations including 4K1G Townsville, Koori Radio 93.7fm Sydney, Rum Jungle Radio, Batchelor N.T, Caama Radio 8Kin Fm, Show Radio Sydney, and ABC Radio Sydney. Since working in the industry, I also saw it was important for me to be qualified in my profession and set about obtaining my certificate 3 and 4 in Radio Broadcasting from Batchelor Institute in the Northern Territory and a Graduate Diploma in Radio Broadcasting from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
The radio industry is a very long, challenging and hard road to take, and god knows why I chose that kind of road to pursue. I’ve hit many lows and many highs in my short time in the industry, but the struggle has been worth it. Although I am taking a break from radio right now with recent events in my life, there is one thing that keeps me linked to it despite not having a microphone in front of me; that thing is music. We all love music, but for me, music is survival, its empowerment, it’s an outlet.
Music has always been more than a choice for me; sometimes I feel as if I am tied to it and owe it a favour. Even when I’m not physically sitting in front of a microphone and getting ready to play songs on the radio to an Audience, I still feel that I am a part of it and always will be.
During my time at Radio 4K1G I was the host of a program called ‘The Deadly Demand’ where every Friday night between 7pm-midnight I would play requests from listeners as well as new music I had sourced. Although this program could be tiring and tedious, my idea of ‘hit songs’ and ‘hit music’ began to develop and I began to acknowledge how each track is unique. My taste in music is diverse; I love hip hop, I love RNB, I love folk, I love rock, I love alternative, I love indie, I love reggae, and blues and roots. I love music that speaks to me, music that affects me and makes me listen to it more than once. One of the biggest things that have got me through the industry so far is the ability to listen and respect all music and how it appeals or doesn’t appeal to the listener. My mother had this incredible gift of being able to listen to a song and know if it would be a hit or not, and in ways, I like to think I’ve inherited that very same talent.
One thing about music is its ability to grow and transform. It has no boundaries and can speak to billions across the world in many languages and forms. Throughout time, it has evolved and continues to change with each musical icon or singer that embraces it. My own musical library is a mix of my generation and my parents musical tastes. My mum always played a diverse mix of music including artists and groups like: Yothu Yindi, Bob Marley, Archie Roach, The Temptations, Kev Carmody, Kc and the Sunshine band, Fleetwood Mac, The supremes, Marvin Gaye, and the whole Motown, and 70’s disco generation. My father’s musical influence has also rubbed off on me with groups and bands such as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, The mommas and the Pappas, ACDC, Creedence, Dire Straits and others. Mix those two completely different tastes of music, along with my own of Hip Hop, Rnb and Reggae, Blues and Roots, Rock and Folk; Tupac, Biggie, Run DMC, KRS 1, Jay Z, The Beastie Boys, Warren G, Snoop, Dre, The Fugees, Lauryn Hill, Lil Kim, Wycliff, Dead Prez, and more, and you have a pretty diverse musical library.
The best thing about being in radio is being able to feel as if your apart of the music industry. You get the tracks first, you get to introduce them to the wider audience, you have the inside information, you get to meet bands and singers and give your honest opinion on music and where it’s headed. My biggest flaw with music and I, is my brutal honesty. Because I have been into music since such a young age, as well as working closely with it, I am honest about what I like and what I don’t like.
The Australian music scene is one of rich history and also one of great shame. Australian rock and Indie, I’d dare say is Australia’s strongest music genre. I say that because unlike Pop, Reggae, Hip Hop, Indigenous, electric and others, Australian Rockers are embraced by the public and have sold more albums and reached more number ones than other genre throughout the years.
Take Midnight Oil as an example; Brilliant, political rock music that spurred change and has become timeless to all generations since they were formed. On the other hand, take the Australian Pop industry, an industry of very few successful musicians/singer song writers that only get so far, then fizzle away to nothing after a few hits (EG: Nicki Webster, Bardot, Holly Valance). Kylie Minogue is without a doubt one of Australia’s biggest and most successful pop stars. I’m not the biggest fan of Kylie or Australian Pop music, but you have to respect what she’s done for the struggling sector of the industry.
This all brings me to my next point. Jessica Mauboy. I finally downloaded her new album, ‘Get Em Girls’ and I can’t say that many of the songs off it really catch my attention. Jessica is one of the strongest female RNB/Soul Singers this country has ever produced. Her natural voice gives me goose bumps when I hear her, even on TV (Something that’s not easy to do), so this is why I was confused when I heard that in a lot of the songs off her new album, her voice had been tweaked or slightly auto tuned in some parts. Personally, I don’t think that her natural gift of singing needs to be tweaked that much.
Up until her new album, Australian’s had embraced her and she was given a handful of awards and a fair bit of (much deserved) praise since the release of her successful ‘Been Waiting’ album. Where does one go once she has cracked the Aussie Market? The U.S of course. With a voice like that, it was obvious that she had to make a shift outside of Australia in order to grow, but since her new album, ‘Get Em Girls dropped’, she has had to face critics who called her ‘a sell out’, and overly produced’. In Jessica’s case, you’re damned if you do, and you’re damned if you don’t. That’s one of the biggest downfalls in Australian music. We’re quick to put them on the pedestal when they are doing well, but as soon as they don’t, we drag them down just as fast.
I have to say, as a music lover and as a radio broadcaster, to me, Jessica is the full package. She’s a great natural singer, song writer and she fits the pop image to a tee, but this new album didn’t do her any favours in Australia. The saddest thing is, with her voice, she deserves to do well, but Americans won’t embrace her (even if she has snoop on her track) because to them, she isn’t that unique. If you think about the pop market, it’s a monster that has produced pop icons like Beyonce, Ciara, Lady Gaga and others, so why would a little known Australian Pop singer, Jess be any kind of competition to those queens of the mic who do what she does, but dare I say, better? I wish for Jessica Mauboy nothing but success and if anything, I’d hope that she would keep true to herself, where she came from and the image she wants to be known as. She will be a lasting pop icon, but only time will tell how successful of a pop star she will be.
The music industry has changed so much in such a short period of time, and I don’t know if the industry is lacking in general when it comes to good music or simply if my musical radar just isn’t keeping up with ‘the times’ as they say. Where ever music is headed, I think it’s safe to say that I will always have an opinion on it. Whether that opinion matters to my peers or any future radio audience I may broadcast too is another matter. With that in mind, and in the spirit of radio, I’m gonna tune out now :)
One Love, One Life....