Peter Saxon chats with Pats
30 years ago, Patrina Jones was just 17 when she embarked on a radio career at a time when it was a boys’ club. Some say it still is. If so, imagine what it was like back then.
Men were on air playing songs, telling jokes, reading news or in the production booth. Women, with rare but notable exceptions, were receptionists, PA’s to male bosses or in schedules. They were still a scarce resource, even in sales. Conventional wisdom among the mostly male program directors was that women lacked the “authority” to present news on radio. The female voice was not posessed of the gravitas that only the deep sonorous notes that emanate from the male larynx could evoke.
Patrina, Pats as she is now better known, was among the pioneers of her gender to break through that particular “sound” barrier.
After stints at 3SR Shepparton and 3WM Horsham, she landed her first metro job at TTFM (now KIIS101.1) in 1995. After around eight years there, she moved to GOLD104.3. After eight years there, moved to Nova doing breakfast with Hughesy and Kate and, after about eight years, she moved again – back to GOLD.
By late last year, she’d been at GOLD for, you guessed it, eight years and looking for a fresh challenge. But instead of moving again, this time the challenge came to her in the shape of Christian O’Connell.
Whether the gamble is going to pay off… but that’s like any new show isn’t it?
What went through Pats’ mind when she first heard that this locally unknown Brit was coming to take over the GOLD breakfast show?
“I thought, wow, it’s a massive gamble. I’d seen his work in the UK and everyone was raving about him but I wanted to see him in person and hopefully be a part of that. But I probably was thinking more about the enormity of the gamble that Duncan (Campbell) had made. He put everything on the line. Whether the gamble is going to pay off… but that’s like any new show isn’t it?”
Pressure alone does not an exciting career make. The remake for Pats was that for the first time they let her out of the news booth so she could contribute to the fun bits of the show.
“It’s given me a unique opportunity to show my personality. It’s always been there but probably not utilised to the extent that it is now. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for me.
“Christian is very much about the team and it’s not just about Christian and that was his model in the UK as well. It’s the whole team. It’s not just Jack (Post) or me. It’s all of us.”
It’s either going to work or its not. But I’m not a naturally funny person. No.
To paraphrase Shakespeare from Twelfth Night, ‘Some are born funny, some become funny and others have funny thrust upon them.’ Which one applies to Ms Jones?
“I think probably number three. I have a lot of people who listen to the show that say, ‘You’re so funny,’ but I don’t think I am funny. The thing about Christian is that he’s so easy to work with and he makes everyone sound great. It’s very easy to be funny working alongside him. He compliments his team so well and builds them up. He’s such a leader on and off air. And it’s a natural comedy as well the rapport that we have and the chemistry that we have. That’s not something that you can concoct. It’s either going to work or its not and fortunately its working. But I’m not a naturally funny person. No.”
What was the advice Christian gave her?
“I hadn’t met him before. I didn’t know what his expectations were. He gave me the best advice in: Just be yourself. That’s all I want you to do, is just be yourself, he said. And, so, I guess that’s what I’m doing because you can’t be anything else but yourself. You can’t fake it.
“You have to be relatable,” Pats adds. At her core, she identifies as an everyday suburban mum, which suits the GOLD audience just fine.
Before I sat down to interview her, I asked Christian if he could tell me something about Pats that she might be surprised that I knew. He told me to ask her why her mum washed her hair with kerosene. She laughed and told me…
“I had nits. Mind you, what’s more shocking is the fact that she was a nurse and put Kero on my head. It took about a month to get out of my hair properly. But it worked.
“Some of the things that you’ve talked about on-air, you think, ‘Oh My God!’ Maybe I shouldn’t have said that. You can’t have any regrets. You can just be honest in the moment. Go with the moment. Be who you are. That’s all you can be.”
Not that I’d lost my passion for radio. I still love what I do. I don’t think I could do anything else.
With apologies to first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, ‘It’s one small step from the news booth, a giant leap for Pats’ kind.’
“It has totally re-invigorated me,” she tells radioinfo. “Not that I’d lost my passion for radio but it’s a newer, deeper passion for what I do. I still love what I do. I don’t think I could do anything else.”