My Swinburne Commercial Radio course lecturer/teacher/mentor Jim Barbour was the one who got this stuck in my head, this “shine in the format” mentality. From what I recall he was gently telling the ambitious class of 2005 (all 14 of us) not to blow off our first radio gigs too quickly.
The majority of us were eager to snag a regional station role even before graduation day. Being offered a job while on the mid-year work experience placement was the most AMAZING thing that could happen of course. We could quickly leave that entry level gig behind and move on up to a bigger market – provincial. Give that a red hot go, and then we’d mosey on back to cap city and hopefully, the glory of working at a Dmg or (then) Austereo station. ARN was considered too of course, just not as high up on the list for us “young ones” back then. 😉
On the question of how much time we should wait before looking for the next move, Jim’s logic was that you should give back to your employer at least the same amount of time they would invest bringing you, a wide-eyed radio industry newbie, up to scratch: six months.
Give it a good year in the country town that you might find daggy as hell was his message. Dig in to community life and embrace everything, don’t spend all of your weekends driving or flying back home. Rather than baulk at having to play music tracks off CDs (or vinyl!) and news beds from ancient cart machines, relish the opportunity to be so “hands on” with the studio gear and, instead of nit-picking your stations’ sound and trying to reinvent the wheel… aim to shine in its format.
Once you’re rocking that format, expertly prerecording the national news feed onto minidisc before top of hour while cueing your next cd track, tweaking some production on Cool Edit Pro and preparing to make listeners rush to the local fruit and veg store with your passionate live read about 50-cents-a-bag carrots…THEN you know you’re ready for the next challenge.
It’s a mentality I applied through my radio career (though I know I could have easily spent more time in my role in Sydney) and one I am still using in my career today. I have so much I want to achieve, and I’m relishing the challenges that will slowly but surely buff me into shape until I’m nice and shiny.