“The male female thing was in my own head really. When I started working in the comedy field I had imposter syndrome and would defer always to the male ego. I am only now getting better at that.”
That’s WSFM breakfast announcer Amanda Keller, who has spoken about the role of women on-air at Radio Alive 2017.
The Powerhouse Women in Media panel discussion also featured the Hit Network’s Carrie Bickmore, Nova Entertainment’s Susie O’Neill and 2GB’s Erin Molan.
All well-known and successful women in the media, they spoke about how they forged their careers.
“It’s weird because I hated the media,” reveals former Olympic Gold Medallist turned Brisbane breakfast announcer Susie O’Neill.
“I found it uncomfortable but a few years ago Ash, Kipp and Luttsy asked me to fill in to read the sport and I really loved it,” she says.
“It’s similar to my swimming – it’s live, it’s early, there’s competition and prizes with the ratings. “
Carrie Bickmore described a Steven Bradbury moment led to the start of her media career.
A reminder, Steven Bradbury was the Australian short-track speed skater who won an Olympic Gold Medal in 2002 only literally after the rest of the field fell over, hence doing a Bradbury has achieved a place in the Australian lexicon
“I used to shadow the newsroom at 92.9FM in Perth and do pretend news bulletins and never really thought anyone was listening,” Carrie explains.
“I was in on a Saturday morning to do some work experience and the newsreader got sick so I rang the boss and said “…she’s sick you are going to have to get someone in,” and he said, “you can do it, you’ll be fine.” To this day, I am very thankful she got sick.
Moderator Angela Bishop then began to dig a little deeper citing Harvey Weinstein, the film producer and co-founder of Miramax who it’s been alleged for decades assaulted and harassed women on their quest to be household names.
“In terms of sexually politics I have never had anything negative but the male ego, I have had to work around,” says Amanda.
“For me,” says Carrie. “My very first boss was a man and he couldn’t have been more respectful or encouraging and I’ll be really honest it’s weird that I feel lucky I haven’t had any negative experiences, that’s the way it should be.
“I have had a lot of amazing men and women as mentors and bosses.”
“The vast majority of bosses I have worked for, both men and women have been incredible,” says Erin who is the first woman to sit alongside the guys on 2GB’s The Continuous Call Team, covering the news and live games of the NRL.
“It was up to my co-hosts and colleagues to determine if I was going to be a success,” says Erin. “And they were incredibly warm and welcoming – it probably helps that I love to punt and drink.
“I think if you look at the media landscape in general these days there’s been a real shift.
“It’s very common to see women involved in sport and I think 2GB are aware as anyone else that they probably needed to make that move. But as we all know it can’t be tokenistic,” she says.
Carrie, Amanda and Erin also work on television and are stand-alone personalities outside of the teams they work with.
So how do you build your brand as a woman in the media?
“I find the idea of brand quite funny”, says Carrie.
“When I started out I wouldn’t have understood what that meant. I just wanted a full-time job yet I do wonder how different my career path might have been if that’s the sort of thing at the forefront of thinking for people going into the industry now. “
“I think my brand just happened for me,” says Amanda.
“I didn’t generate it, it organically happened. However, having said that I am now aware a bit more that perhaps I shouldn’t say that, or maybe I should do this.
“My brand for me is my personal morality.”
“I’ve never considered myself a brand,” says Erin.
I know very strongly what I believe in, what is worth fighting for and what I’m comfortable leaving.”
For Susie, as a former Olympian building her brand has been very different experience.
“I remember when I first quit swimming I had the swimming brand and while I wasn’t in the media but endorsements were a big part of my income.
“I knew a lot of women in households make the decisions so if people knew me as a mother then endorsements would be beneficial to me.
“I try not think of my brand as much anymore because I am way off track where I was as a swimmer doing breakfast radio. I say things sometimes and think that’s not me and then I have to try and remember I am 44 now I don’t have to be the non-drinking good girl – I have grown up so it’s about being able to show my real personality that no-one really saw when I was swimming.”
“Being yourself on radio is a very hard skill to learn and that’s the bit I love about radio,” says Amanda.
“It’s been a very interesting lesson to be yourself in front of others.'”
I can’t think of a more immediate, a more liberating a more open and honest discourse you can have with someone short of writing a blog.”
“I never thought I could do media,” says Susie
“Even being asked to do this today I don’t consider myself in the media. It just feels like I go every morning and chat to three of my mates.”