It was 2020 and Bryce Ruthven loved his radio role in Canberra… but he had no idea life was about to change.
Bryce took time out of his busy work and family life schedule to chat with me about how things have changed over the years.
First, a look at his background:
He’s been working 10 years in the radio industry at a variety of stations along the east coast.
But his favourite time was with SCA in Rockhampton. “..I had an opportunity to work with two of my close friends. I also really enjoyed my time in Gippsland with TRFM, the ACE Network was going through many operational changes and covid swept upon us which was new for everyone. To be involved with ACE during that time gave me an opportunity to try many new things I couldn’t in other stations, broadcast across Victoria & NSW, and ultimately led to winning an ACRA”.
Then in May 2020 Bryce received a very random message on Instagram from a casting producer, to be part of the TV show “Married at First Sight”…
Q: How did that go for you?
A: If you asked me two years ago, I would say, even though we worked out, that 12 month period of my life was actually quite toxic. Asking me now, it was great because I came out of the show with an amazing wife and twins boys. However, it was an experience that’s hard to explain it writing without using more than one article.
Q: I know there was controversy on the show. Was that led by producers or is there more to the story?
A: I think the term ‘controversial’ is more linked to the question ‘how did they actually work out?’. Away from the TV show and since it aired on Nine, nothing really matches or makes sense with how things were shown, because let’s be honest.. how on earth could ‘that couple’ survive that, if it was an accurate reflection of our relationship?
I’ve discovered since doing the show myself there’s only 90 minutes of programming available across four nights a week to show 10 couples going through an experiment so it’s impossible to fit everything in. Realistically only 30% of our experience was shown and the remaining 70% will forever live on the cutting room floor of Nine’s post production studio. In no means am I proclaiming we were the ‘golden couple’, but gees… our experience with what could potentially have been shown could have been a completely different narrative, which is disappointing because it could have easily appeared very positive for us.
Any radio personality that’s been involved with a reality TV show knows how manipulated these shows and the storylines are by producers, which to be fair is no different to some radio shows.
I remember a conversation I had with a radio executive back in 2021, who I’d met briefly during my time working in the same network. It was regarding a potential role and they were questioning my MAFS experience, asking the questions I expected.. ‘is that what you’re like?’, (even though we had met me numerous times, and thought we had a good relationship). After the hour-long chat, they turned around and said ‘I think reality TV is real and what goes on is actually what happens on these shows.. you’re too controversial to host a music breakfast show. Mum’s taking the kids to school won’t relate to you’ and ‘I don’t think you’ll work in radio again’.
That conversation taught me many things about the radio industry. It’s crazy how one person’s opinion can have such an influence on an individual’s career, regardless of if it’s a fair judgement or believing workplace gossip. I had radio friends who’ve have similar experiences with this particular scenario, so I just accepted the situation for what it is, and moved on without letting one person dictate my career.
Q: You and I met up for coffee and a catch up well before you appeared on the show. What made you decide to do it? Were you looking for love or did you think it would help your radio journey?
A: We did, and thank you kindly for shouting the hot chocolate!
When I was approached about my interest in being involved with the show, I spoke to a few people I knew who had done MAFS and some other shows, and it honestly sounded like a once in a lifetime opportunity. The stigma of a regional radio personality going on reality TV to try and get a public profile had absolutely nothing to do with going on the show, even though I know many people in the industry would say ‘that’s bullsh*t’. I honestly couldn’t have cared less about that side of things.
Once you go through all the testing for the show, it actually convinced me the show was legitimately designed to potentially find a life partner, naive of me I know even though it fortunately panned out that way for me. As the time countdown to filming commencing, I went away from thinking just about the experience I was about to go through and more about the fact I could actually be matched with someone I could spent the rest of my life with.
Q: Did you ever think it would lead to the family life you have now – two kids and a terrific wife?
A: Honestly, I thought 30/70. 30% being yes it could lead that way but knowing the shows track record with the ‘experts’ matching couple accurately, the other 70% of me thought ‘lets be realistic, it probably isn’t going to happen’.
Q: Tell me about your latest venture… this is an internet based radio station, right?
A: After taking two years away from the radio industry to mentally refresh and focus on another passion of mine, turf management, I joined Disrupt Radio which is a DAB+ station that launched mid year out of the SEN studios in Melbourne, broadcasting across Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane along with online across the world.
I was really enjoying my turf management role looking after a VFL ground and working at AAMI Park in Melbourne, when I went for lunch with Steve Kyte who told me about Disrupt Radio and its plans. Until that point, while still having a passion for radio I didn’t have much interest in returning to the industry given some experiences I had over the past 12 months with the industry and some people in it.
After again catching up with Steve Kyte & Benjamin Roberts who gave a great sell of Disrupt, and excellent hot chocolate, I joined the station as the studio producer for the breakfast and morning shows. Having worked in stations over the last ten years that have some very toxic cultures, what Benjamin has created in a short amount of time has honestly been remarkable, a breath of fresh air and shown me their are still some great people working in the industry after covid. We have a wonderful team of around 30 people working with us, some very talented producers with different backgrounds in media and we’ve come together to have a station sounding like it’s been around for 10 years. The format is great, and presenters are likeable and there’s nothing like it in Australian radio which is why I wanted to be involved,
Q: Do you miss traditional radio?
A: In my opinion Disrupt Radio is traditional, just on DAB+. Where I see Disrupt as being non-traditional is that Benjamin Roberts has created a new format, is happy to challenge the perception of what talk radio is, and wants to create something that gets an audience talking. Bringing out Sir Bob Geldolf, and for myself working with him as closely as I did that launch week, is something I’ll never forget.
In saying that, I also know I have a profile that fits nicely into Australian & UK pop culture from our time on MAFS and life since getting married for real and having twins. Our social media following and engagement would assist any radio show with pop culture at the front of mind so somedays I think that could be an opportunity for me if given the chance again.
Q: …and you’re a leading Ambassador. Who do you represent and what do you do?
A: My wife and I have been ambassadors for Miracle Babies Foundation for the past two years, they’re an amazing organisation who supports families going through the experience of having a newborn in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Our twins Levi & Tate were born 10 weeks premature at 29 weeks so we spent the first two and a bit months of their lives in NICU, which was tough journey for us to experience as new parents. We assist where we can to spread awareness of the foundation and raise funds for them to continue supporting families, it involves working in the media with TV, radio and print interviews, attending events & fundraisers as speakers, and using our social media platforms, that kind of thing.
Q: If you could wave that magic wand, is there anything you’d change about the last few years?
A: I’m a strong believer in learning from past experiences to better your future. The only thing I wish I could change was my time in Canberra. I was going through some pretty challenging mental health struggles pre-MAFS and was fortunate to have a very supportive & understanding Content Director in Rod Cuddihy who helped me probably more that he’ll ever understand. At that time I was associating with some people who really saw my involvement of going on MAFS as an opportunity to attempt to make a name for themselves too by reaching out to gossip reporters and media outlets with some very defamatory claims. Unfortunately this type of thing happens all the time to reality TV participants. At the time I’d heard some mixed opinions of some people I became close too while working in Canberra, but looking back on that time I wish I had a better judgement of those people around me and what their motives were. That aside I loved working in Canberra, it was a great station.
There was also an experience while working.. (at a regional station).. where I unfortunately suffered a form of harassment from a work colleague at a work related event. After alerting the manager I was told ‘it’s best not to take the matter further because they’re close with upper management so nothing will happen’. I remember going home that day from work and breaking down in tears thinking to myself what on earth am I go to do to prevent this from happening again. Fortunately two months later, I was offered a role in a capital city and even though it wasn’t my ideal role I quickly snapped it up instead of essentially being made to tolerate questionable behaviour, essentially being told to sweep it under the rug.
Post MAFS, I wished I took that matter more seriously at the time rather than leave a role and having to accept how I was told to deal with it, particularly as the person involved is still in the industry and has been quite vocal online in a negative sense about myself. I am however a big believer in people getting what they deserve at some point, and without wishing ill upon someone I hope eventually that person understands their actions were not alright.
Q: As things stabilise, where do you see yourself in the future?
A: I would love to anchor a breakfast show as I love being creative with storylines, the sound of a show and have an endless amount of life experiences to share on air. If it wasn’t to be, I’d like to get involved with sports broadcasting or step into a Content Director role. Away from radio I coach a State League mens soccer team in Melbourne and love training people to improve themselves so can see myself going down that path too.
I also have plans to write a book going into our experience, our lives post reality TV and touching on our lives pre-MAFS so that would involve a big thing about the radio industry. There are plenty of stories to share across all three stages of life!
Bryce, all the very best in the future and the very best in your Ambassadorship.