Angie Ayers has the Spirit of radio | radioinfo

Angie Ayers has the Spirit of radio

Thursday 26 October, 2017
Angie Ayers

Angie Ayers, Spirit Radio Breakfast Announcer, tells radioinfo her story so far. 

Hey radio land, I’m Angie.

I met the lovely crew from radioInfo at this year’s Radio Alive conference, and I guess they found my winding road to radio interesting enough to share it you with.

I was born in ’88, which makes me one of those odd cats who didn’t grow up with the sound of vinyl but knew the joy of recording songs onto cassettes (and recording my own talk breaks onto them as well, much to the horror of my father and his favorite Billy Idol tape). I watched the quick transition from CD to digital music without comprehending what it would do to the industry I now work in.

I went through an education system that was only just discovering computers, the internet was around to help for assignments, but hard copy encyclopedias were still a thing. I was one of the ones who was due home when the street lights came on, but I had my first mobile at 14. I’m 28 but I’ve lived in 4 decades, two millennia, 13 towns, 6 countries, 20 houses, 4 pubs, 2 tents and a sea container. There are a thousand stories in all that, but this is my radio story.

I graduated from Curtin University of Technology – Perth, as a fresh-faced journo student who was sure I could change the world with words in a one-minute TV news bulletin. Instead of staying in Australia to develop my contacts and experience, I left on a one-way ticket to London, not knowing if I’d be gone for 3 months, or 3 years.  

I found myself saying yes to a volunteer position in Sri Lanka at a station called 101.7 TNL Rocks. I worked in the newsroom and help the journos with their hourly bulletins. What I didn’t realise, was the insane amount of censorship we had to follow. TNL was the first independently owned station in the country, but you still had to report what the government told you to. This makes it increasingly difficult when the country is embroiled in a civil war that had been waged for the last 30 odd years.

We would receive a government media release saying, ‘6 Tamil Tigers, 3 Government soldiers and 2 civilians were killed in an altercation last night’. The illegal Tamil website would report the same incident with '6 Government soldiers, 3 Tamil soldiers and 2 civilians killed'. Then the UN would issue a statement saying '3 Government soldiers, 4 Tamil Tigers and 6 civilians were killed'. Where do you even start with that? 

Not only did I experience a unique newsroom, I also had my time in production, music direction and the live studio. My first act on air was to play Kylie Minogue on April Fools Day, reading off a printout from Wikipedia and being interviewed by the breakfast team. Luckily, the Sri Lankan people have a wonderful sense of humour, as they rocked up to the station for autographs from their hero and found me instead! I got trained up on the desk and taught how to panel.

Then, out of the blue, the Program Director, a wonderfully badass lady called Bimalee De Silva, who broke every single traditional view of women in the western world let alone a developing nation like Sri Lanka, told me I’d be going on air that afternoon. I was so shocked, she simply laughed and asked what did I think I’d been training for?

That led me to my first on-air gig. It was on this show that the news broke of the official death of Prabhakaran, the leader of the Tamil Tigers and the end of the civil war. I can’t begin to explain what that was like. 

After my TNL experience, I was hooked on radio, but after my Sri Lankan experience, I was hooked on travel and not ready to come home. My path led me to bar work, which then led to turtle conservation in Greece. Working in Greece changed my view entirely on our disposable society and the need to get back to primary production and cut out our single-use plastic. But that’s a conversation for another time and I eventually came back to Australia after 4 years.

I went to visit my best friend in her new hometown of Karratha on the West Coast. I hadn’t seen her for years and was supposed to stay for 3 months…I stayed 4-and-a-half years.  I loved the town, the people and the weather. The scenery is breathtaking, and if you’ve got mates with boats and 4WDs it doesn’t matter in the slightest that there aren’t hundreds of restaurants or shops, there’s adventure and stories, and Exmouth just a 6-hour drive down the road.

I took a sales job for Red FM and Spirit Radio. There were very limited media jobs and it was time for me to get back into it. I figured I would learn something along the way. For whatever mad reason, they employed me, even though I distinctly remember telling them I’m not a sales person. I’m not motivated by money, but I am goal-driven and I love radio. As it turns out, not being a sales person was perfect. All it entails, is relationship-building and doing what you say you will do and it turns out I wasn’t bad at it. This led to an ACRA nomination for best Direct Team Sales, and the following year a finalist nod for best Direct Individual Sales. 

After pestering my bosses for long enough, they gave me the drive shift on Spirit 1260 Karratha (formerly 6KA) and soon to be 102.5. I was given the gig on the proviso that I maintain my full-time sales budget. So I worked a split-shift, continued to sell a full-time base in part-time hours, in a market downturn, while hosting an arvo program, and I was stoked! 

I ran with this for just over a year and realised my time in the Pilbara had come to an end. When the Promotions and Marketing role came up in my head office, I was offered the role. Within the first 8 weeks on the job, I’d filled in for the Spirit Network breakfast announcer for 2 weeks and then he handed in his resignation…. so I put my hand up for the job.

That brings me to now. At the Radio Alive conference they asked where are the solo female breakfast presenters. I'm here.

I host and self-produce a solo, female, breakfast radio shift, broadcast to some of the most remote places in Australia.
The world views my broadcast patch as the wild west, full of miners, farmers and tiny towns no-one knows the name of.

By the time I get through the 4 fire alerts from the Kimberly and the Pilbara, the storm warnings from the Midwest, Northern Goldfields, or the warning for sheep graziers in the South West, plus the 30 towns I read the top weather temperature for the day, we’re one minute thirty in already! 

My daily challenge, and love, is now to provide content for 100 breaks per week: filling the radio silence with meaningful entertainment, with stories from my inspirational towns and their local heroes. I make sure the interviews with Bachelor evictees aren’t another boring conversation about connection and finding other fish in the sea. Interviewing my music idols and newcomers to the industry, I find the sparks that make them tick.
My job is to connect with people from all walks of life and bring their energy through the radio and into the towns, where I work for the people who tune in. I’m 6 months in and sometimes I get it, sometimes I don’t, but every day at 4:15 when my alarm goes off, I’m excited, full of adventure and can’t wait to play the tunes for Spirit Radio Remote once again.


Angie and her colleagues at this year's ACRAs: Daniel Huddy, Brady Ellis, Robbie Klitzing, Angie Ayers


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