Finding her radio voice

27 November 2009

Written by: Lawrie Zion

“Twenty years young,” and a second-year in Media Studies at La Trobe, Olivia Kaleta seems like any other student roving through uni. But, in her spare time, she is hard at work on making her radio dreams happen. From radio courses at local stations, to volunteered late shifts at SYN FM, Livv is not shy in getting her voice into the broadcasting world and shares her experiences as a beginner on the road to radio.

Livv admits the journey so far “has been somewhat difficult. Most people have this notion that all you need is a Bachelor of Media Studies or Journalism to break into the industry and that some big shot will just pick you out of a graduate class of about 350 media students … But in my first year at La Trobe, our tutors and lecturers really drummed into us that we need to be getting some experience along with our course.”

Livv describes her first steps: “I must have sent my resume and application letter to about 15-20 stations … 3CR were the first to take me on … There was no chance of internships or work experience; just volunteer work. It didn’t really bother me; I knew that the next few years would be filled with volunteering my time to get experience … I really enjoyed spending my time there … it helped me understand the industry a lot more than taking notes in a lecture theatre would have.”

Now Livv trains at North West FM and revels in doing occasional “graveyard shows” at SYN FM. “It’s a long process, but I’m getting there … it’s all worth it.” While working part-time, attending uni from Monday to Wednesday, studying and getting tutoring, doing Saturday radio training, seeing friends and family, planning shows, and doing any extra study, Livv advises, “it’s just a matter of managing time so that I don’t slack off on anything.”

Discussing the challenging side of starting out, Livv says: “after many, many rejections from radio stations last year, there was a point where I thought that I wasn’t going to get anywhere and that the only people who got far were the ones who knew the media ‘big-stuffs’. But I came to realise that it’s a lot of back work … I believe that behind each media personality is years of hard work, rejections and perseverance. If you can’t handle rejections, then this isn’t the industry for you.”

Livv was “pretty nervous” first broadcasting on SYN FM. “Funnily enough, the show was called “The Awkward Stage” which is pretty appropriate … [but I] eased into it; the first week we just played music … said the station name … basic things like that. Then, each week … more air time built up confidence.” Eventually Olivia was given a segment called ‘Livv’s Rant’.  “I’d just have a bit of a yarn about things – nothing really meaningful … more along the lines of high school, canteen prices and trivial things like that. I honestly thought I’d get slammed, being such tedious matters, but one of my co-hosts said that there was a fan group of the segment at her school. My ego sky-rocketed, naturally.”

“I’m pretty sure when I was five I wanted to be a chef, haha.” The idea of radio was “just a bit of fun. My brother and I used to do pretend radio shows when we were little … so I guess I liked the idea of playing ‘real’ radio … and just wanted to keep doing it.” For the future Livv would like to go as far as possible. “I think I could be happy at whatever station I can get a job at, but I also think there’s not a problem with aiming a bit higher and pushing myself that bit further … Radio, ultimately, is my ideal career; it’s a good balance of music, talkback and comedy.”

As advice to fellow media hopefuls, Livv advocates: “you can’t expect to leave Uni and walk straight onto a job; we’re given breaks in the middle and … the end of the year – use them. Don’t spend four months on Facebook saying how bored you are. Get your resume and application letter together and send them out to every station possible. It’d be the same for television and print journalism, too. Contact local television channels … write into the local paper with copies of your work … It just takes one place to say “yes” and you can just build on it from there. If an opportunity pops up, say yes now and panic later.”

Shelley Tangee is a Bachelor of Arts student at La Trobe University. This is her first piece for upstart.