Gareth Thomson: Riding the Wave of AFTRS success

It was during his primary school days that Gareth Thomson first had an inkling that a broadcasting career might be on the cards for him.

“My friends and I made up a fake TV station,” he chuckles. “That’s when I knew there was a certain inevitability to it.”

Today, as a graduate student at Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS), Gareth – who grew up on a hobby farm in Sydney’s Hills district – is relishing his current role as the weekday afternoon newsreader on Wollongong’s Wave FM.

“It’s a large sub metro regional market. It’s quite a big population centre that I’m covering, so it was a bit daunting in the beginning, but it’s really exciting to get the opportunity to do it,” he says.

For Gareth, it’s also the culmination of a dream.

“I’d been toying with the idea of getting into broadcasting and radio for a few years,” he says.

With a background in theatre, Gareth hadn’t quite envisaged life turning out the way it has.

“I’m in my thirties now, so this was not necessarily a pivot I was expecting to make at this point.”

“I did lots of random things in my twenties. Eventually I got a degree in theatre.”

“Prior to going to AFTRS, I’d actually been touring a show that I wrote out of uni with some friends and it sort of took off. We took the show around Australia.”

Gareth also did some acting and other odd jobs along the way.

A few people started telling him “You’d be good on the radio,” and it got him thinking.

“I love asking questions and I’m super curious. And I think I harboured a fantasy of signing a podcast,” he says.

That’s where AFTRS came in.

“I saw it as a way that I could do these things every day.”

Gareth says studying for the Graduate Diploma in Radio and Podcasting at AFTRS has been a truly transformative experience.

“AFTRS essentially got me this job. It connected me with the people who were important in order to make this happen. I mean, I’m still at AFTRS and I’m already employed full time.”

“That’s a testament to AFTRS.”

Show Radio (the official station for Sydney’s Royal Easter Show) was Gareth’s first big foray into live broadcasting, an experience he described at the time as being thrown into the deep end, but in a great way.

Today, Gareth’s job requires him to write and deliver news bulletins on the hour throughout the day.

While used to working to deadlines, writing, he says, is generally something he enjoys because it affords him the opportunity to mull over things.

“I’m a huge ‘muller,’” he laughs. “A huge ponderer. I spend a lot of time brewing ideas. I’m a real marinator!

Gareth says in a way, broadcasting is like a different version of acting.

His advice to others keen to embark on a broadcasting career? Don’t be intimidated by it.

“One of the things I think people don’t realise is just how much opportunity there is in radio. Podcasting of course is blowing up – and has been blowing up for a while now.”

“Radio actually does have a lot of jobs if you’re willing to work in the regions. There are heaps of opportunities out there in news, announcing and producing.”

Gareth’s simple message is to ditch any doubts and just go for it.

“And don’t feel like you have to be perfect at it from the beginning, because AFTRS will teach you absolutely everything you need to know.”

More info here on how to try out the state of the art studio facilities at AFTRS via the upcoming Voice Over Fundamentals courses in December.

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