Hit Radio Network’s national drive team Hamish Blake and Andy Lee have headlined this year’s National Radio Conference in Melbourne.
Appearing for the first time at the annual industry conference, the session was moderated by their Executive Producer and one of Australia’s foremost experts in radio content Sam Cavanagh, with the pair answering questions about their career in radio, approach to content and what it takes to stay at the top of their game for 12 years.
“We got there through trial and error,” says Andy Lee.
“We used to tell each other every line we were going to say which took the fun out of it, so we decided not to tell each other anything so now we go in into the studio genuinely excited and everyday.
“It takes a lot of trust in your partner and it certainly takes a lot of trust in your producing team”
“But,” says Hamish, “It’s about finding that level of balance between prep and spontaneity.
“So for us there are two ends of the spectrum, over prepared and not prepared at all,” he says
“Not prepared at all just sounds shit. So for our show we just have one word or one line about what we want to do in that next slot and for us that works.”
“Would you like to talk about our planning meetings and how much time you spend out of the room?’ asks Sam.
“Yeah we get in around 1 o’clock,” says Andy “And then basically for half of the planning meeting I’m outside playing iPhone games…”
“Well Tinder’s not technically a game,” teases Hamish.
Tinder is a dating app, and with Andy arguably one of Australia’s most eligible bachelors the joke isn’t lost on the crowd.
‘So the excitement for us now,” says Andy, “because we are so comfortable with each other, whatever we say we want to be hearing it for the first time.”
Hamish and Andy’s drive show reached 2.5 million listeners each week and held that audience for four years before they retired from the time slot in 2011.
The pair were lured back to SCA’s Hit Network in June 2015 once again doing the weekday national drive show.
“There’s a lot of pressure on teams to have big ideas to get their show talked about,” says Sam. “How important do you think that is for radio?”
“It’s a curse,” says Andy.
“If that’s how the conversation starts there’s a one percent chance that idea will be funny,” says Hamish. “It will be over thought and the chances of it being big are minuscule.
“But if the conversation starts with what’s a fun idea we could do and as a bi-product it happens to be a large event, yeah then fine, but I reckon it’s a common mistake.”
“With every idea,” adds Andy “We certainly leave it open to grow as big as possible, you don’t want to put any parameters on it.”
Sam asks, “How important is reviewing your successes and failures?”
“Really important, says Andy. “We are big on reviewing successes and failures but we never before hand try to guess where something will go.
“We know there are no guarantees,” says Hamish. “After doing this for ten years and analysing it, I think we have a lot of data to roll through and say, a lot of it is random.
“The only time ideas work is when there is fun in the room, we believed in it, it just made Andy and I laugh, which sounds a little bit arrogant but because at the end of the day it’s us trying to bring it to the audience and have everyone get involved, if it doesn’t make us laugh then we know there is zero chance of it catching fire.”
Hamish and Andy met while studying at University and before having the highest rating radio program in Australian history.
“You guys were friends before you worked together, how much work have you had to do on that relationship and what sort of conversations do you have to have to protect it from the performance relationship?” asks Sam.
“Heading into 2007 after the show had gone well,” says Andy, “It was fine, we were just mucking around but then you get to realise that lot of people are relying on this friendship.
“We did start to feel pressure and it changed the way our friendship worked for a few years.
“It became, I suppose more like a marriage with kids coming along and suddenly something’s more important.”
“The thing is,” says Hamish, “It had always been their effortlessly and suddenly we had to…well, it was like finding out a vase at home is worth $1000, and you thought it was just a shitty vase, but suddenly you think, while I don’t break many vases I am going to try really hard not break that one.
“It’s just a really hard thing when you are just mates at Uni and suddenly your job is being friends, which is fine and super easy but at the same time that’s just a really weird thing to have as your job.
“You don’t want anything to damage it because you lose your job and our best friend.”
CRA’s Joan Warner says Hamish and Andy are “wonderful ambassadors for the radio industry… we’re excited that they agreed to share their expertise at this year’s conference.”
Hamish and Andy can be heard across the Hit Network Monday to Friday from 4pm.
Follow our twitter feed for ongoing live coverage.