The Honorary Degrees were presented at the AFTRS annual graduation ceremony last week which saw 137 students graduate from the 2020 academic year.
Broadcasting innovator Cherie Romaro, pioneering broadcaster and filmmaker Mitch Torres, and world-renowned VR artist Lynette Wallworth will today receive Honorary Degrees from the Australian Film Television and Radio School.
Wallworth, Romaro and Torres are each trail blazers in their fields and exceptional role models for Australia’s creative community.
Romaro and Torres are recipients of the 2021 Honorary Degree, with a Doctor of Arts, Radio (honoris causa) and a Doctor of Arts, Film and Television (honoris causa) being awarded respectively. Wallworth will receive a Doctor of Arts, Film and Television (honoris causa) 2019 Honorary Degree, which was not presented last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cherie Romaro began her executive career in commercial radio at a time when women were generally employed only as receptionists and executive assistants, breaking that mould with an exceptional career through the world of radio, television, journalism, digital and podcasts.
Australia’s first ever commercial radio female Music Director, she went on to become Music Director at 2SM in Sydney when the Top 40 station ruled the airwaves. Cherie pioneered FM formats in Australia and, after co-authoring three successful government submissions for FM licenses, she became the inaugural Content Director for rock station Triple M Sydney, later crossing to 2DayFM working for the high-profile board consisting of Michael Willesee, Graham Kennedy and John Laws and creating one of Australia’s most celebrated radio brands, the first ever soft adult contemporary format.
Her programming and management successes continued internationally with consultancies in Paris, NRJ, formally known as Pacific FM Network, 54 radio and television stations, News, Talk, Classical, French, CHR and Soft AC.
Returning to Australia to ARN she launched the MIX and Gold FM networks across the country before redirecting her talents to television, to reposition Arena and The Weather Networks, later returning to Radio with EON Broadcasting to reposition Classic Hits 2CH.
Cherie continues to apply her many talents to the world of media and says, “I am extremely honoured to be awarded an Honorary Doctorate Arts, Radio. I can hardly believe this has happened to me, I never could have imagined it in my wildest dreams.
“I am privileged to work in an industry I love, and over the years I have had some extraordinary mentors, people who have really believed in me such as Rod Muir, Rhett Walker, Mike Willesee, Patrick Delany and John Williams. I have always believed in giving back and this amazing training facility AFTRS allows me to pass on my experience and knowledge to the students.”
AFTRS Chair, Russel Howcroft, says, “An AFTRS honorary degree is only awarded to the highest achievers and it is one of the highest honours that can be conferred on a creative screen arts and broadcast practitioner in Australia. Lynette, Cherie and Mitch are each inspiring leaders and innovators in their fields who continue to make outstanding contributions to the screen and broadcast culture in this country.”
Previous recipients of an AFTRS honorary degree are here
Today 137 students will graduate from four AFTRS courses, Graduate Diploma in Radio; Batchelor of Art Screen: Production; Master of Arts: Screen; and Master of Arts Screen: Business & Leadership. A significant achievement across all courses are the screen productions and radio broadcasts that students have completed during the COVID pandemic. Amongst the first productions to go ahead in the COVID environment, AFTRS and its students notably led industry best-practice in COVID safe protocols.
CEO, Nell Greenwood, says, “Graduation is a significant moment in our school year where we celebrate our students’ learning and we formally mark their transition into industry. I couldn’t be prouder of our graduates and our School’s achievements. Ninety-three percent of AFTRS 2020 graduates are currently working in the screen and broadcast industries. Over the past year we’ve also had wins at international festivals and two of our graduates’ films, made while at AFTRS, secured international distribution deals. AFTRS is here to serve and support the Australian industry and up skill our graduates to make work that entertains and connects audiences at home and around the world.”
This week also saw the annual AFTRS Graduate Showcase, a hybrid of both in-person and virtual programming with screenings, information sessions, networking, exhibitions and more, with graduating students presenting their works to leading Australian industry representatives, including broadcasters, producers, acquisitions and development executives.