He’d rather read the news than be the news: Triple M’s Seb Costello

Peter Saxon gets to know Seb Costello who recently landed the Newsreader role on Triple M Melbourne’s Hot Breakfast alongside Eddie McGuire, Luke Darcy and Mick Malloy.

Let’s address the elephant in the room first. Seb Costello is really nice guy but baulks when you bring up the subject of his family. “I love my career and I love my family but they are two separate things.” says Seb in a firm yet polite tone that conveys little doubt that we should get off the subject and not bring it up again, “I want to have my own career and I want to do my own thing. I want to stand on my own feet,” he says.

Fair enough. But when your dad is Peter Costello, the former treasurer of Australia and your uncle is the Reverend Tim, CEO of World Vision, it’s easy to become a celebrity for all the wrong reasons. 

So, let’s leave his family out of it. Seb got to where he is by paying his dues like everyone else, “I started as a teenager when I decided that radio was really my passion and I took a job as a 19 year old on MaxFM in Taree. I was a drive jock there for a while getting my flying hours up like we all do. And then I  took a job at Classic Rock 102.5 in Echuca, Victoria, near the NSW border. Again, a jocking shift, four hours in the morning on breakfast and then voice tracking for their sister station 102.1 over in the north east. Loved that!” says Seb.

“I guess I always had an interest in news. I think us jocks do a lot more than people give us credit for. We keep an eye on the news but the job is more about putting a smile on people’s faces than informing them. But I kept that passion for news.”

Of course you don’t get very far in this business without a healthy dose of ambition and a pinch of chutzpah. “As a young journalist, you never know how far some arse can get you. 

“So, there I was working in Echuca and I wrote a letter to Neil Mitchell and Justin Smith who was an Echuca boy,  and at that time, Neil’s producer. (Smith is now Drive presenter on 2UE) We sort of bonded over that common ground on the border At Echuca. And he said, ‘Come in. We can’t pay you but you can answer some phones and see what talk back is all about.’  And thats how I ended up at 3AW.”

Perhaps the most common phrase young people hear when desperately looking for a job in radio: We can’t pay you but… Nonetheless, it was an offer young Seb could not refuse and spent four years at 3AW reporting for Neil Mitchell’s Morning show as well working as a boundary rider and a stats man during footy broadcasts. During that time he also got his degree in journalism.

But FM was always the band on which he wanted to be. “At the time the FM thing was what I wanted to do. I mean Hamish and Andy were the biggest thing in the country at that time and FM was definitely what I wanted to do which was why I was so excited to be landing at MMM and having the best of both worlds.

How different are the worlds of AM and FM? Seb explains, “You’ve got Eddie who is so connected in Melbourne, President of Collingwood, a former journo himself… still is. He understands the story and understands that people need to be informed. I guess it’s just the way that it’s presented thats a bit more lighthearted than a Mitchell program.

“But I think in a lot of ways theres a lot of similarities between the Hot Breakfast and a Ross and John on 3AW. Of course Ross and John have been incredibly successful for a very long time but its my view that the Hot breakfast is picking the best of both worlds. The AM reputation of knowing a story and knowing the news and informing people and FM’s ability to entertain and put a smile on people’s faces.”


Having just started in his dream job at Triple M, his ambition sated for the time being, Seb is understandably focused on the near rather than the distant future. Nonetheless, when pushed he admits that talkback holds a fascination for him.

“As a guy who loves radio, the aura of the talkback kings was just something that I was drawn by. These stories about the lunches between the Joneses and the Laws – the Hinches and the Mitchell’s. I guess it was something that was on my mind when I reached out to Neil from Echuca.”

At 28 years of age, Seb has plenty of career ahead of him but he’s already learnt some powerful lessons that he’s happy to share with students of radio: “Never underestimate the local. It’s a lesson I’m sure that is taught in the classroom but the beauty of this medium is how local it is and how we have the ability to concentrate on things that resonate with the people in our area or in our city or in our town. 

“I did work experience about seven or eight years ago at Austereo and was lucky enough to get 10 minutes with Lee Simon and he said: ‘What are you doing?’ And I said I’m the Breakfast jock at Echuca and he said: ‘Right, first thing you need to do is organise a regular spot with the mayor of Echuca’ 

“It was something I hadn’t considered. I was busy talking about Shane Warne and what all these other big celebrities were up to and he made me see that the audience is coming to radio for that really immediate that really intimate and that really local stuff,” says Seb Costello.

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