Comment by Jen Seyderhelm
This story is 100% true.
I’d just returned from a week’s holiday to my traffic scheduling role at 2GB in Sydney. I loved that job, the people I worked with and was feeling refreshed. I was as exuberant as Johnny Young, who also happened to be sharing our building at that time.
I went to the kitchen to make my morning coffee and a smiling new face greeted me. So joyous was he that I made mention of it. We bantered back and forth about our lunches, radio kitchens in general, the importance of coffee and how great working at 2GB/2CH was (in my opinion, seeing as he clearly had no idea). I asked if he was new in sales. He said he was. I told him my job and said that I was more than happy to be an ear, lend a hand or simply be a friendly face in the building whenever he needed it. He beamed and I looked forward to our next encounter.
I went back to my desk and opened my emails. I read about the gathering that had happened while I was away to introduce the new Macquarie Media CEO Adam Lang. His picture was attached.
After I let rip some choice expletives and then vowed eternal silence so as never to shame myself again I told my colleagues that I , lowly Jen Seyderhelm, had asked Adam Lang if he was “in sales” and offered to be his moral support in the building he had assumed control of.
With the benefit of hindsight, I’m glad now I didn’t know who he was. Had I have done, honestly, I probably would have walked straight out of that kitchen and made my coffee at a later date. I would never have had our warm and friendly conversation. I would have made various unfair assumptions, of him, and me.
It is terrifying, as a newbie, to meet the people who you hear, and perhaps even idolise on the radio. You want to make an incredible first impression. You do that by not acting like yourself. By being bigger. Louder. Scarier. Or silent. Unobtrusive. Desperately hoping they’ll notice you NOT clinging on to them.
When I got my interview at Macquarie, Mark Noakes who interviewed me made mention that I was the first and only person who had quoted that she wanted to work there to be nearer Bob Rogers. For the record I gave Bob a kiss (on the cheek) on his 88th birthday. Life goal achieved.
Obviously, I knew who Ray Hadley and Alan Jones were, but I was a 2CH girl. Almost immediately though I was given copious stories of the terrifyingness (it’s a word I promise) of Alan and Ray. They became mythical beasts like dragons and unicorns. On the positive side it brought out the very best of me in terms of my work standards. On the negative, and I hope Ray doesn’t read this, the first time I passed him in the corridor I was so afraid to look at him that I walked into a wall.
I’d like to say that I relaxed, but I never did, really. This isn’t the fault of Alan or Ray. I decided, with a colleague, that we would greet Ray cheerily every day with a “Hello” or “Good Morning”. Hardly landmark conversation but each time I did it I felt stupidly proud of myself. But then, if I were to return to Macquarie and Pyrmont now, I’d say it was to be nearer Alan, Ray, Steve and Ben. I’ve changed. Sorry Bob.
As I grew up, I was given lessons about perceptions by my mother that I’m not going to go into here. As a result, I try not to base my impression of people on what someone else has told me. It’s different though if I’ve been listening to you for years and idolise you. Then I’ll make a right dick of myself (apologies Doug Mulray, Andrew Denton and Bob Rogers(again)).
I left a radio station once when I could no longer work with my on-air colleague. It was not because of something he did to me, but rather what he was doing to himself. I’d promised my then boss a certain time commitment. I found a new role, in a new state, and took a financially and potentially emotionally crippling gamble.
My boss, when I resigned, knew my new employers, as we were all in the same network.
They said, “You’ve made your bed. Now you have to lie in it.”
No one has ever said that to me before or since.
I went to the new station with great trepidation but found instead my people. My radio family.
I know it doesn’t always work that way though.
I like the lyrics in Rod Stewart’s The Motown Song; “Luck is believing you’re lucky”. Radio is all about taking a risk or gamble. Pairing up with someone you don’t know. Trying a new format or dynamic. Bantering with the CEO in the kitchen.
I can’t find it. I’ve searched everywhere.
When I left 2GB, my colleagues, who knew of the awful day when I first met Adam Lang, gave me a card signed by him. It said something like, “I’ll miss our kitchen conversations.”
I wish you all the best on your new adventures Adam. I’ll still be an ear if you need it.
About the author
Jen Seyderhelm is a radio announcer, producer, news reader, lecturer, Rockwiz victor and podcaster.
Her podcast, 20/40, celebrates friendship and conversation between two women with a 20-year age gap. In her spare time, Jen does stand up comedy, is writing her first book, and posts music trivia around her vast collection of vinyl singles daily, online.