Anyone who knows me or has listened to me on radio will know that for years now I’ve banged on and on about being from Perth’s picturesque hills region.Read More
It’s my birthday. So I’m exercising my right to be a tad reflective.
I chose today to take a time out from all the career and business-related work I’ve been doing behind the scenes of late. If you’ve ever had to start afresh before you know it’s sometimes even busier than working full time. And I’ve been hard at it. That’s how I roll, I’m determined and stuff.Read More
Back when I first met my husband, it didn't take long for me to realise that Christmas time with his son, would be pretty different to what I was used to.Read More
It’s kind of an unwritten rule I suppose, that once you hit adulthood – where you choose to spend Christmas is up to you. But during my own time as a “grown up”, there hasn’t been a single year that I’ve been anywhere but here, in Perth, Western Australia for Christmas. It’s by choice. I’ve lived all over Australia, been to cities, as one P. Allen wrote, “that never close down” during the festive season, but I still know - I’ll always come home for Christmas.
I’ve had a look around me to come up with this list of all the things I love most about our uniquely West Aussie Christmas. I hope it’ll light your heart up like it has mine.
Jacaranda in bloom. The first thing I notice when it’s nearing Christmas time. Some parts of the city don’t need to be decorated there are so many Jacaranda trees lining the streets. A sight that provides the season’s first reminder to stop and enjoy the beautiful things to come and says: “Merry Christmas” to everyone who drives by.
The Beach. Simply because of our coastlines, with sand so white they resemble snow. “Dashing through the sand in our bathers and our thongs, smashing fruit mince pies, singing Christmas songs”. What? You’re telling me there’s another version?
Balmy nights. Leaving Perth really made me appreciate our warm summer evenings. Conditions that are just perfect for all the things you like to do at Christmas time. Think roof top Christmas parties, outdoor movies, and late-night shopping & markets in the lead up to the big day.
My zany family traditions. At Christmas we remember my Gram by holding a Christmas pudding contest. Entrants make a traditional pudding to Gram’s original recipe. Then at our big Braidwood gathering, my Dad, his three brothers and sister choose the best one. There are score sheets and even a list of judging criteria, supposedly to stop arguments. It doesn’t work.
The City of Perth’s Christmas Lights Trail A new tradition for my little family, and great fun with friends and loved ones too. You download a map and meander through the city’s 16 festive lights installations. There are countless photo opportunities along the way and the good news: it’s all FREE! Every night from 6pm until Christmas Day, Don't forget your walking shoes ;)
Santa. He often wears a lighter-weight suit when he’s in this hemisphere, (hey, wouldn’t you?) but he’s always accompanied by his trusty reindeer, a magical sleigh, and a few cheeky elves. Kids (and big kids) line up patiently without fail for a Snap/selfie/Insta story or old-school photo with Santa, that’ll be promptly framed, gift-wrapped and lovingly presented to Nana on Christmas Day.
Carols. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of warm nights spent holding a candle shoved through a paper dinner plate and singing Christmas Carols in the park at full voice. To get your fix, check out IGA Carols by Candlelight for Variety or, City Carollers. And remember, for a truly authentic West Aussie Christmas experience, consider local carol re-writes like the one I mentioned earlier.
Summer Love. It’s easy to come up with fun, romantic ideas for dates during a West Aussie Christmas. Plus - those previously mentioned balmy nights mean your Tinder date might show a little more skin that usual. Why not steal my idea for date-night: an early bite to eat at the Twilight Hawkers Market (Friday nights in Forrest Place), a couple of drinks at Halford Bar, then a walk by the truly beautiful Light Projections at St George’s Cathedral. The rest is up to you.
For more details about what you can do and love during your West Aussie Christmas, click the button below.
And don’t forget to tell me about your West Aussie Christmas traditions in the comments x
..AND OTHER ANSWERS TO QUESTIONS I GET ASKED ABOUT BREAKFAST RADIO.
It might be just small talk but there are a bunch of questions I always get asked about working on breakfast radio shows. I love my work and I love the the convos – so don’t stop asking. But in case you’ve wondered, been too shy or even if you’re just keen to get into the game (do it!) here are a few common questions about the gig, with my answers. Of course these answers won’t match up with all the people you listen to on radio, but after 16 years working breakfast hours, I reckon they’re be a fair indication of the norm.
Do you get to choose your own music? No. As much as they would probably like to, no radio announcer in a commercial station is choosing their own playlist.
Who chooses the music? The Music Director, or "MD". For most people their favourite thing about radio is the music, so we do our best to play as much of it as possible. During our show, the anchor plays a preselected list of songs, scheduled by our MD. There are so many reasons why we need to stick to the schedule, but I'd say the main reason is to be consistent. At 96fm we're known for playing great gold tracks. If we were to suddenly put on a new pop track just because one of us likes it - we wouldn't sound like 96fm.
How do you get used to waking up at 330 each morning? You don’t. No one ever gets used to that.
What time do you go to bed? Everyone has a different approach to managing the early mornings and likes to talk up the reasons why theirs is better than say, their co-hosts’. I used to love staying up late (10pm) with my husband and stepson, then take a nap during the day. But lately I've struggled to day-sleep. So, I've had to suck it up and start going to bed at 8pm. Which sucks, because not only do I spend less time with my family, I also miss some of the best stuff on TV! Which leads me to..
Is watching TV part of your job? It actually is. I try to be across whatever my station’s target audience might be. So if MKR is rating well with 25-54 year olds, I make sure I check it out. Then, if something worth talking about comes up on the show, I pitch a break or phone topic about it for the next day. The nightly TV news is generally the highest rating event of the night, so I watch it, no questions asked. Doing this means I can be confident a decent chunk of our audience will have a point of reference and be able to relate to what I’ve just said. Being relatable is where it’s at ;)
You must be a morning person, right? I’m actually not. I’d like to tell you I’ve embraced the early mornings and that even on the weekends I’m up by 5am getting stuff done, but it just hasn’t happened. It’s not like I’m grumpy at work in the mornings, but I feel like I’m the slowest to get going! Getting out of bed hurts and I’m almost always just a little bit late, but by the time we sit down for our 5am meeting and I’ve had that first coffee, I’m feeling pretty good. I’ve also worked hard to make sure my diet supports good sleep and energy levels. I’ve found a few simple things that have really made a difference. Maybe that’s for another blog ;)
What if you’re just having a bad day? Yeah, life happens, and some days are definitely been harder than others. But you know how when you’re feeling crappy your friends can make you feel better? Working with a breakfast radio team can have the same effect. It sounds a bit “Pollyanna” but I’m lucky to work with people who I’ve genuinely become friends with – and they’re all funny! We might laugh over some silly news story, or spend some time looking for the funny side of a tiff one of us has had with our partner – it doesn’t take long to get in the right headspace for the 3 hours of live radio ahead.
How do you come up with things to talk about? Ideas come from all over the place. I already mentioned TV, but I also remind myself to get out of the house often. Having conversations and doing everyday activities are the things that generate stories and ideas. I keep a list of quirky things that happen in my phone so I don't forget.
Do you work from a script? We plan everything we say! Even though it doesn’t sound that way ;) But, whilst we carefully plot the times we’ll speak about certain things, share our stories and even workshop parts of them before the show starts, we prefer not to use a script. For me, it was a real breakthrough when I learned to speak on radio the same way I would with a friend. Sure, there’s a mud map of a few points to make sure I don’t take too much time, but on the whole, I just get in the moment and tell Fitzi what happened. Being focused on the studio (and not a script) makes it so much easier to sound natural – and to interact when someone says something hilarious on the fly. That’s the stuff you can’t plan.
What happens when you’re sick? (Generally) We come to work. I know we're not saving lives, but to justify the show sounding different because it's one person down - my co-host and I agree - you best be pretty crook. I had a few rare days off a couple of months back – when I had a suspected case of mumps! My neck and face had swollen up so much that I could barely swallow let alone talk, but the main reason I stayed home was the risk of infecting others, not my puffy face.
Do you think you’ll do it forever? I can’t confidently predict that. :) When it comes to my contract with my current employer – I’ll turn up as long as they’ll have me. Radio jobs depend on not just your relationship with your employer but also results. An awareness that it'll come to an end one day is just part of it. You also need to take into account the impact of working those early mornings for such a long time. It affects your family life, friendships and health in so many ways (more stuff for another blog). Mind you, when I think about working 9-5 I realise I’d miss the flexibility I have during the week right now – I can go to an appointment, do the shopping, or meet my husband for lunch pretty much any day of the week. I know how lucky that makes me.
Do you just wear your PJs to work? No. Do you?!
That last one always makes me laugh! And, it's just about all I can think of. Do you have any other questions? Maybe you work in radio too and have some different answers, or thoughts on what I've said here - let me know. And if you're keen to get into radio yourself, (even after hearing about the 330am alarm and requirements to actually dress) get in touch. Radio needs talented people so step right up. I'd love to help you make your mark.