Radio Advice Stuff Things

Hey there gurrrl. So every now and again people hit me up for a piece of advice about how to get into the whacky old world of radio, no doubt figuring that if I can somehow manage to hold down a full time breakfast gig, surely anyone can.


You’re quite right.

I thought it might be easier to just collate my thoughts in one blog post here. Keeping in mind that I genuinely fell over backwards and belly-flopped into this industry and I think there’s really no single path to follow (as with pretty much any job in the media) and I first and foremost think of myself as a comedian who gets to do radio (and not a “broadcaster”), here’re my RED HOT FLAMING GUARANTEED TIPS FOR RADIO SUCCESS: 

LISTEN. Listen to as much radio and broadcasting as you can possibly fit into your ears. Podcasts, international radio, breakfast radio, night radio, commercial, community (3RRR, SYN FM, 4ZZZ and FBi are all great), university, ABC (local, radio national, triple j), music-based radio, talkback, etc. Figure out what YOU like to listen to and what you think works.

STUDY. I’ve never done a radio course (obviously – have you HEARD me?!), but I know a bunch of people who have. Some have loved them, others have considered them a waste of time and money. I think no matter what, there’s value in getting practical knowledge of how a studio works, editing programs, industry slang (mic breaks, resets, time calls, backannouncing, teasing) etc; maybe you want to get that through a tertiary institution, maybe you’d prefer to learn all that by doing at a community station or a short course. Either way, being comfortable with all that junk is going to let you focus on saying things out of your face. Plus pressing buttons is fun!

GET EXPERIENCE. Chances are there’s a community radio station near you that’s always on the look out for new people passionate about and keen to get involved in radio. Take them up on it and offer to help out an existing show, pitch a new show with yourself and a friend or solo – whatevs Trevs. Getting on air experience and doing it doing it doing it really is the crucial way to become better.

MAKE AND SEND DEMOS. Make demos (practice recordings) of yourself (kind of easy to do these days what with all the technology around), listen back to them and critique yourself and, when you think you’ve got something strong, make contact with a station and ask the Program Director if you can send them some of your work. They may not always be able to give you feedback, but if you consistently show them high quality, considered stuff, they’ll definitely take an interest in you. Don’t spend your whole time waiting for a response, just keep up your presence and focus on increasing your skill set and time on air.

DON’T RUSH. Enjoy the process of figuring out how you approach radio. Sometimes in comedy you get a sense from up-and-comers that they feel like they’re not progressing fast enough and they’re frustrated that they’ve been at the game for a whole year and STILL haven’t got on TV. But for me the early stages of open mics and pissing about with friends and slowly piecing together who I wanted to be on stage were some of the most fun and creative times ever. Same with radio. Alex Dyson and I did a community radio show in Warrnambool to an audience of perhaps 12 people max. There was no pressure and we probably sounded shit but we were also having fun and finding out what each of us found funny and the kind of show we were going to make together.

– PLEASE BE A PERSON. Radio is awesome, but I think there’s a danger of being consumed by your interest in it. The best part of radio is hearing about life outside of it, so I think a good broadcaster is someone who has a range of other interests. Your life can’t just be talking into a microphone, that’s boring. Read books and newspapers and the internet and listen to shitloads of music and go to plays and movies and football games and exhibitions and get drunk and have sex and make mistakes…then talk about it on radio and BLOW PEOPLE’S MINDS.

– LISTEN TO ADVICE, BUT ALSO TRUST YOURSELF. I’ve heard a fair few theories about what constitutes good radio over the years and I always try to take them on good faith, but it’s also important to question stuff and remember that exciting things happen when you say “fuck you!” and do your own thing no matter what. You may crash and burn, or you might be hailed as a genius. My favourite radio shows ever are by people like Ricky Gervais and John Safran and Russell Brand and Jonathan Ross and Hamish and Andy and Opie and Anthony and Tom Scharpling, and as far I as I can tell they all seem to break the vast majority of radio rules I hear about. They’re great because they’re real people being very funny and very interesting and very honest. So much radio sounds phoney to me, that’s why I love these guys so much.

Also remember that a lot of radio lessons come from a commercial perspective and are really designed to trick people into listening longer so they will hear more ads and drink more Coke and are thus bullshit Satanic thoughts that are beneath you.

ALSO remember that said advice about ignoring advice applies to THIS advice, so feel free to ignore all this if it sounds like absolute rubbish.

– HAVE FUN. Like any media job, if you manage to work in radio, consider yourself a very lucky duck indeed, it’s a fucking privilege. And if you find yourself hating it for a consistent period of time, get the hell out of there and do something else.

I’m often asked how I got my job at triple j; it was via stand up comedy. I did the Class Clowns comp (, then RAW Comedy ( and had a program director spot me and approach me.

I’d also recommend checking out This American Life, RadioLab, Desert Island Discs, Howard Stern, Tony Martin’s Get This! and Comedy Bang! Bang!.

I think that’s all I got. I hope it helps in some way or another. Best of British luck, dear reader!