How to break into radio by driving really long distances | radioinfo

How to break into radio by driving really long distances

Sunday 20 May, 2012
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Even as a teenager, Dan Jones was desperate for a career in Radio. He figured the way to get in to a paid job was to work in an un-paid job at a community station first. Next step, he thought, was to score a Grad Dip. of Commercial Radio Broadcasting from AFTRS.

So, after having done a few years of 'paying his dues' at community stations bFM, 2SSR and 2CCR, Dan decided he was ready to have a crack at getting into AFTRS. “I got into the third round, getting down to what I thought was the last 20 applicants. I went in for an interview. The interview, I thought went well, but I didn’t get selected to the course.”

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Frustrated, Dan began to have doubts, “If three years of community radio isn’t good enough to even get into a radio course, then what is?

“Then a friend of mine Kate Edwards (ex 2GB and Nova 96.9) suggested that I visit regional towns and apply in person. I’m not sure if I took it to the extreme, but the next thing I know I had looked up all the commercial radio stations in the state and was planning a route to travel,” says Dan.

He’d just turned 21 when Dan started the road trip in late April 2011. Wisely, he’d kept his day job writing training manuals for Telstra while spending much of his spare time at 2CCR in Parramatta. He had just 5 days in which to complete the trip and get back to work in Sydney.

Starting on a Monday morning, he loaded up the old turn of the century Vectra with copies of his air-check. First stop was Wollongong. From there he drove down the south coast of NSW and on that same day visited stations at Ulladulla and Bateman's Bay until he ended up in Bega on that night staying at a local pub.

In total, Dan visited 26 stations in five days.

94.9 MHz Power FM Nowra – Wollongong

96.5 MHz 96.5 Wave FM – Wollongong

98.1 MHz i98FM – Wollongong

999 kHz 2ST - Ulladulla

104.3 MHz Power FM Batemans Bay

105.9 MHz 2EC – Batemans Bay

2XL 96.3 FM - Jindabyne

Snow FM 94.7 FM - Jindabyne

666 kHz 666 ABC Canberra

104.7 MHz 104.7 – Canberra 

93.1 MHz 2WZD Star FM – Wagga Wagga

1152 kHz 2WG – Southern Cross Austereo

102.5 MHz Classic rock – Deniliquin

1521 kHz 2QN – Deniliquin

93.9 MHz ROCCY FM – Young

1350 kHz 2LF – Young

95.5 MHz ROK FM – Parkes

1404 kHz 2PK – Parkes

92.7 MHz Zoo FM – Dubbo

1251 kHz 2DU – Dubbo

105.1 MHz 2GZ FM – Orange

105.9 MHz Star FM – Orange

1089 kHz Radio 2EL – Orange

99.3 MHz B-Rock – Bathurst

107.9 MHz 2ICE (Move FM) – Lithgow

900 kHz 2LT – Lithgow

“It certainly was a very eventful week,” says Dan, It varied a lot between stations that I'd visit. At some stations I wasn't let past reception or allowed to speak to the PD, while at other stations once they saw the map of where I had been and where I was going, they were very good in giving me some time and listening to my air-check. I had some people even spend some time training me and giving me advice on my air-check.”

Dan admits his air-check at the time was pretty awful, “It was very community radio… and I didn’t have a whole lot of training behind me. So it did get very awkward when I was half way through the trip and a whole bunch of PD’s had already told me what was wrong with it, but I still had to proceed without being able to correct it.

“It was very disheartening at the time, and made me wonder if the trip would even still be worth it,” says Dan.

Nonetheless, there were plenty of people willing to spend some time with him and offer some advice and encouragement. Although he can’t remember all their names, he’s listed some of them below …

Phil Bradley (Group Program Director SCA Albury)

The Program Director at 2AY

Jim Walkerbroose (2XL/Snow FM)

the Program Director at Power FM Nowra

the Program Director at i98 Wollongong

Phil Brandel (Group Program Director Hot 100 FM Grant Broadcasters)

Justin (Program Director Move FM/2LT)

Chris Mathieson (2DU/Zoo FM)

"When I got to Dubbo I originally only had Star FM on my list of stations to visit. For some reason I’d overlooked 2DU/ZooFM. Star FM Dubbo were very nice to me but didn’t have any positions available. The PD at the time Chris Holland asked me if I had been to 2DU and Zoo FM down the road. If he hadn’t have mentioned it, I never would have visited Zoo FM or got the job offer that brought me to Dubbo," says Dan.

In the end, the Zoo FM job was the only offer he got out of the whole trip. However, a couple months later he got a call from the Group PD of Grant Broadcasters, based in Darwin, who’d somehow gotten hold of his resume in the Northern Territory. “He liked the initiative I took and talked to me about a position going to Muswellbrook, however by that time I had already been working at Zoo FM for about 2 months,” says Dan.

Although he was hoping for an announcing job, that’s not where he started at 2DU/Zoo FM Dubbo. Dan recalls, “At the time they didn’t have any news staff, so they put me in the newsroom and I did the news for both 2DU and Zoo FM. I had never read news before or had any Journalistic training, it was time well spent and I learnt a hell of a lot. They put a lot of trust in me to do well as I was the only news person.

“Even though I was gunning for an Announcers position I still really appreciated the opportunity and ran with it. When they eventually hired a Journalist, I was made the Morning Announcer at Zoo FM.”

That was Dan’s first job. And while that took a five day road trip to land, as luck would have it, he found the second job of his radio career just around the corner, in Dubbo. “12 months after the road trip, funnily enough I’ve now been poached by Dubbo’s Star FM and will be heard on mornings there from June 4th.”

Of course, a road trip wouldn’t be a road trip without some anecdotes. Here’s just one from Dan, “During the trip on the fourth night I was planning on staying at a pub in Orange. I went to what seemed like every pub and motel in Orange, none had any vacancies because of the mining going on at the time. So I started to travel to neighbouring towns looking for a place to stay. I ended up in Yeoval.

 “I got out of my car and was still in a suit from visiting all the stations. As I was walking into a pub to check it out, a local yelled out at me ‘You’re the best fucking looking sheep shearer I’ve ever seen!’. I said ‘thanks’ and went inside, the room cost $30 a night.”

How did you get into radio? Or are you still trying? Why not share your story with us. Email: [email protected] 

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Steve Wilkins
20 May 2012 - 4:30am
Its a great story Dan. Well done. It proves that there are still opportunities out there, you just have to make them happen. Good luck, but I dont think you need it!
Chris Holland
20 May 2012 - 4:30am
You're right Steve, he doesn't need it. Dan's got the attitude any employer would be searching for in all staff. He wants to succeed, and will as a consequence.
The original aircheck definitely wasn't commercial standard, but Dan's endeavour was. He soaked up the advice, and has now signed with Southern Cross Austereo.

Keep living the dream, Dan! The industry needs more people with this spirit.
Mark Flanagan
21 May 2012 - 4:30am
Like Dan, I also started at B-FM but back when it was 2BCR. I also moved to 2SSR, then onto 2GLF. In between I have also been to 2CA, Triple M Sydney and a 2 year stint at C91.3. I too sent out air check's here & there and got some very good feedback from a number of people that helped me along the way. I am still at 2GLF having natural fun (read: no constraints but with self programmed music) and would love another crack at the commercial market, but who wants to take on a 48 year old whose only skill & love is to play music & give information to the punters? All with a free flowing style that thumbs its nose at the current straight-line convention?
Phil Brandel
21 May 2012 - 4:30am
Great story, glad he got an on air gig, I would have hired him if I had a gig at the time - Phil Brandel Hot100/Mix1049
Andrew Page
21 May 2012 - 4:30am
I thought it was a massive effort driving 6 hours from the Gold Coast and staying overnight in Inverell so I could chat to Cads for my first gig at at 2NZ. I did the same for Muswellbrook and drove 8 hours to Wagga for my current gig at Star FM. I thought I went to a lot of effort for each of my 3 jobs but Dan, has worrier instincts. If he were on a battlefield, I wouldn't want to be the enemy. Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Hope to work with you one day Dan - Pagey - Star FM/2WG Wagga Wagga
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