"I spent nearly 9 years in community radio, before I finally believed in myself" | radioinfo

"I spent nearly 9 years in community radio, before I finally believed in myself"

Monday 07 September, 2015

You may have heard of Asperger’s Syndrome or may even know someone with it.
Asperger's Syndrome is a type of pervasive developmental disorder (PDD). 
PDDs are a group of conditions that involve delays in the development of many basic skills, most notably the ability to socialize with others, to communicate, and to use imagination. Arguably all key requirements for working in the media.
Meet Brad Wood.
A workday announcer at 101.3 Sea FM on the Central Coast, weekend announcer at 2Day FM and soon to be Ground Announcer for the Central Coast Mariners.
Brad has Asperger’s.
“Asperger’s Syndrome typically affects a person’s social skills – interacting with others, and the ability to make friends, along with bouts of clumsiness and obscure use of language and phrasing. I’ve suffered through all of these growing up. In school, I was always the odd one out – trying to hang around the “cool kids”, but never getting a look in. I’d use a vocabulary which was completely different to the rest of my classmates, and I’d always be ‘avoided’ by the rest of my peers.”
"That sort of isolation has impacted me up until this day – I currently live alone, and have done so for the majority of my radio career. The few times I have lived with housemates, I’ve kept very much to myself with little interaction. It’s not that I don’t want to be around people, I’ve just never known another mindset. It’s also probably the reason why I enjoy pulling solo shifts as a workday announcer so much –It brings me great comfort being in control of my own shift, and having four hours a day to be with my own crazy thoughts is something I cherish."
"I thoroughly enjoy my personal time, but I’m also so glad that I’ve been able to find an industry full of like-minded people where I can finally ‘fit in’ and make friends – something I never got to fully experience in my earlier years, and will spend years trying to make up for".
People with Asperger's can have an innate and specific talent, does Brad?
"It’s true – people with Asperger’s have an innate ability to nail a certain topic. For me, in my younger years, it was cricket stats – I could roll any number off the tongue like a walking Wisden. As I’ve grown up, I’ve been able to learn the craft of radio, and make it my true passion".
"Football (soccer) became my other ‘thing’ – I attended my first national match in 2006, and instantly felt like I belonged, surrounded by good company and an infectious energy. Every since that night, it’s been my passion to follow it around the country, and the globe, to feel a part of it all. Every football match I watch, or attend, makes me feel like I’m part of some sort of family, and for an Asperger’s kid, that’s a dream".
Brad had many things he needed to conquer as he embarked on a career in radio.
"Self-confidence being one of them. I struggle with it. I spent nearly 9 years in community radio, before I finally believed in myself, and the signs others were giving me, to actually email a Content Director with some of my stuff. It sticks with me to this day – if a colleague or CD tells me I’m a great jock, or that I’m sounding as natural as I ever have, I’ll always find a way to hate the way I’m doing something, and simply palm them off as being incredibly kind. That’s the way my crazy mind works".
"I also struggle with going live without stuttering on my words, or using a strange turn of phrase here or there. One of the most common pieces of feedback I receive from air checks is “Your phrasing needs to sound like you’re in the pub with your mates – not reading from the Oxford dictionary”. It’ll often take me 20 takes to nail a break the way I want it, and even then, I’ll find something to pick out of it".
"My clumsiness has also gotten in the way many times. I can’t recall the number of seemingly innocuous things I’ve not been able to get right in my radio career so far. I envy so many of my peers in the industry for the things they know at such a young age, which I sometimes feel are a little too complex for me to process".
And what about daily struggles?
"All of the time. I’ll get to my desk at 8am, and I’ll never start each day with the same task – keeping a successful time management routine is something my mind just can’t handle, but it’s definitely getting there".
"On the air, if I go live and screw something up during a break, I’ll spend a good minute in my brain beating myself up about it once the mics are off, before getting back on track. Then I’ll probably succumb straight to the voicetracker as a way of a safety net, to make sure I don’t do it again".
"I can be thankful that I’ve grown out of many of the crippling aspects of Asperger’s Syndrome as I’ve grown up, though – I can communicate a lot better with those around me, and can pull in the right sort of company at almost the click of a finger. Although I still feel horrible that there are others around me who, at my age, excel so much further with their social skills than I do. I get very envious of that, and sometimes wonder where my journey might have taken me if things had been different".

There is an Asperger's Syndrome Awareness page on Facebook  with over 145 thousand members or an on-line association, in support of Asperger's.

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Graham McGillivray
7 September 2015 - 11:35am
I was lucky to work with Brad early in his commercial career and his energy and enthusiasm were an inspiration to all around him. To read of his own self doubt is a little baffling because he always seemed so on top of his gig and his career path to date would support this view. In his early 20's and pulling a cap city shift and major regional - I bet many new comers envy that Brad! If you can't have faith in yourself, have faith in the good words from those aound you, it's not lip service.
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