Keeping An Open Mind
If there's a piece of advice I could give you about being in the radio industry, it's that keeping an open mind is important. If you're not afraid to try new things, you will succeed.
During my radio broadcasting course at Loyalist College, my main goal was to be on air. That's all I wanted to do. My dream was to be a morning show host in a major market, my hometown of Toronto. My mind was closed off to any other market and position. I then soon realized, this is not the key to success. Having an open mind towards different positions and markets is incredibly important in this industry. Especially since it's so easy to be laid off and replaced.
If you're an aspiring broadcaster, I would tell you starting small was the best thing I could have done for myself. I started my career in Belleville, Ontario, Canada. A town with only 50,000 people. As a Toronto girl, moving to a small town was a big change. I ended up staying in Belleville for 5 years total (2 for school, 3 for my first radio gig) and keeping an open mind is the reason I was there for the amount of time I was.
At my first radio job with Quinte Broadcasting, just being on air was not an option. The great thing about small stations is you get to try just about every job in the biz. I started as a member of the promo team, which of course was not my first choice but it helped me get my foot in the door...so important. During my promo days, I learned the importance of interacting with your audience and community. You start learning the names of your listeners, cool facts about them. You get to be on stage talking to a huge crowd. You get to explore the community in a way you probably never would have. You gain skills in regards to talking to strangers, you learn how to interact with children and seniors. You become part of the community and I'm gonna lie, being able to take home the station vehicle was a sweet perk too.
I enjoyed doing promo, so I thought, why not try my hand at something else? I worked with the copy department...meh. I tried my hand at production...not my thing. I learned in the news department which I did enjoy. HATED sales. Still do. I loved being on air, what a thrill to be live! I did videos for our stations YouTube channel, I love being on camera and finally I tried music programming and adored it!
I had no intentions of even being in the programming department but all of a sudden my mind had changed. Something that would have never happened if I didn't keep an open mind. All of a sudden a position was open for mid-day host and music director. I was given the position and was ecstatic. I was around 20 years old and being in radio was my dream, I was excited but had no idea how much work I'd really be doing. I wasn't just the MD for our pop station, I was MD for the country and classic rock stations too.
I worked my ass off, often getting to work at 7am and not leaving till 7pm. There was a ton of work to do and to be honest, it left me drained. I knew it was important to keep working hard so I could one day achieve my dream. I was getting tons of experience and learning a lot about different music genres. I'd be a great 'name that tune' partner considering all the different genres I've been lucky enough to program.
If I didn't keep an open mind, I would not have gotten my second radio job in Vancouver, British Columbia, a market I had never even thought of going to. The position was looking for an assistant music director/on air personality. I had the skills needed to fulfill this position because of my prior music experience.
I thought to myself, there's no way they're going to hire me. I was in my early 20s, coming from Belleville, Ontario plus I wasn't exactly confident in my abilities. I said "screw it" and applied anyways. There's no harm in applying even if you don't think you're 100% qualified for this. You'll get your name out there and they may consider you for a future position (which did happen to me not long after moving to Vancouver) You could imagine my surprise when I got through 5 interviews over the phone and Skype that I was chosen for the position.
MY FIRST REMOTE IN VANCOUVER
A week later I was in Vancouver, I celebrated my 23rd birthday by having my first on-air shift on Virgin Radio Vancouver, which was 95.3 at the time. I'll admit, the move was a struggle for me, I knew nobody out west so I had nobody to help me with this big move. I became stressed with the amount of rain Vancouver gets, it took weeks for me to see the sun there. On the second day of work, it was announced the Astral would be bought out by Bell Media. I had heard horror stories about new media companies coming in and firing everyone at the station. I thought to myself, what have I done moving here? I had nothing but my clothes with me so I essentially had to start completely over, which is a challenge when you don't have a car. I was being tested in every way but tried to keep an open mind.
The moment that changed for me was when the sun FINALLY came out and I saw the North Shore mountains for the first time. I was in shock...I had no idea they were there due to the rain and cloud cover for weeks. The mountains were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen, I'm not kidding when I say I shed a single tear. I needed to keep seeing these mountains and if I wanted to, I had to stay here at this job and keep an open mind about moving to Vancouver. I ended up staying for almost 5 years and had a great experience. I made some wonderful friends who I still speak to, I learned a great amount and gained tons of experience in radio and got to truly experience the beauty of British Columbia by hiking and camping in the most beautiful spots. Memories and scenery I will cherish forever.
CAMPING IN BEAUTIFUL B.C.
Moving and trying new experiences can be scary for most of us but I've found the best way to truly enjoy life is to take chances, try new things, open your mind to new experiences. If you're in the business or an aspiring broadcaster, please keep an open mind to moving to different places and always keep an open mind about trying new positions at the station. You never know what can come from it!