Back in 2017 I was offered a two-month hosting role in Newcastle, filling in for a breakfast show host who needed time off due to an illness in the family. When he came back, management wanted to see how the show might sound with all three of us as a team. Naturally it was a little uncomfortable at first, but we eventually found our rhythm.
Up until that time, I’d been working on the assumption that I was free to travel overseas. I’d already prepared to live in Europe for six months. Alarm bells weren’t ringing because the folks in management weren’t sure whether their breakfast
show experiment would work. But my name was quickly becoming associated with the brand.
Obviously, I was increasingly concerned about my travel plans and what kind of effect they may have on my career, so I reminded the station about the trip. That’s when they offered me a full-time gig. Now, we all know what happens when you become committed to a plan. I was so determined to go through with the trip that I could already taste the Italian gelato! I didn’t want to seem ungrateful, but I had to be straight with them: the flights were booked and I was going.
I suppose management then thought they could put the issue to rest by offering me a contract, but more time had passed, and if I’d previously had any doubts about flying out of Australia at the end of September, they’d disappeared by that stage. I said I’d love to accept the contract, but I couldn’t start until the following February. It wasn’t ideal for them, but after some consideration they simply said, ‘enjoy your travels and we’ll sign you up in February’.
If I thought the scenario was too good to be true, that’s because it was. The station realised it would be confusing for the audience if I suddenly disappeared from the show for six months. They were right of course. Imagine building up your audience’s trust and engagement only to suddenly opt out for half a year. Listeners are fickle. They forget, they start loving a new host. When you return, you’ll be starting from scratch.
That’s when the proverbial lightbulb appeared above my head and I said, why don’t you give me the equipment to do the show remotely? At first, they laughed. But after a few chats with the technical staff, we realised it was possible. It’s rare to have your cake and eat it too, but we’d discovered a way for both parties to get what they wanted.
Next thing I knew, I was on a plane. For the next few months, I enjoyed one of the best working holidays imaginable, broadcasting to the Newcastle audience all the way from Rome. On the weekends I travelled to places like Barcelona, Santorini, Mykonos, Paris and London before returning to my hotel room to do the show between 8pm and 11pm local (Italian) time. It wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation and support of my co-hosts who inevitably had to handle some of the extra load, but it worked well. In fact, it was so convincing that the mayor of the city didn’t realise I was hosting remotely until she came into the studio during a show and saw me on Skype.
Full disclosure – before you start picturing me as radio’s version of James Bond, I should admit that I spent hundreds of hours in a dark closet stuffed with pillows and doonas as makeshift sound insulation. It wasn’t exactly a life of glamour. But it was one of the best experiences of my life. Just to make sure it was an experience I’d never forget, I also met my wife during the trip. But that’s another story.
If there’s a lesson to be learnt (besides the fact Europe is amazing) it would have to be sticking to your missions in life. None of that would have been possible if I hadn’t shown some determination and focus. Everyone will tell you to roll with the punches but here at The Audio College I make sure students are aware that it’s just as important to see your strategies play out.