The 18-week course gave Alice valuable insights into the industry, opening the door to various aspects of modern broadcasting. Weekly internet streaming was a particular thrill. “I learned about script writing, editing, presenting and producing. The teachers were really supportive and encouraged me to enrol at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School (AFTRS) at Moore Park.”
In February this year Alice commenced a Graduate Diploma program at AFTRS, in the radio wing of the impressive complex at Fox Studios – “a big, beautiful, light-filled space”. The radio wing has three professional studios, labs and all the latest equipment. “I jumped straight in!” Alice said.
“After about five weeks, we were sent out on our first assignment – three-hour shifts as part of the AFTRS pop-up station at the Easter Show in Homebush. We were there with microphones and headsets and had to be ready to give live crosses! You need to be very alert and relaxed for interviews and observations, whatever is needed.”
It was a steep learning curve in communications and Alice thoroughly enjoyed it.
“It’s been such a challenging and aspirational year,” she said. “I’ve worked hard to improve my skills, tried different script-writing methods, better ways to read aloud – so it doesn’t sound like I’m reading – balancing structure and spontaneity.”
Students are taught to be mindful of their listening audience. “It’s about imagining a particular listener, one particular person.” Alice laughed as she recalled printing a “Googled” photo of a “person” – an anonymous face to keep in view as audience icon.
“Radio is so personal,” Alice said. “Broadcasting is meant to be like a conversation. It’s not really a group activity. It’s a very personal address.”
The ABC’s Richard Fidler comes to mind as an exemplar of this kind of communication. “It’s amazing what he does to draw stories and commentary from his guests,” Alice said. “He is genuinely fascinated by people and they can feel that, too.”
A highlight of the year has been work experience with ABC 783 in Alice Springs. Alice was a field reporter for two weeks, engaging a variety of local issues.
“I’m very interested in everything, I’m very open to learning, talking to different people … Once you have the basis of knowledge for a topic, listening is the most important skill … I have an insatiable curiosity,” she said.
Curiosity has been a trait since early childhood. Alice remembers family members predicting she’d have a career in the media. “I was always engaging, writing … I document everything … keep records, archives, journals and scrapbooks. It’s a cultural thing, too, remembering, keeping the conversation alive.”
Alice is applying for jobs now, hoping to get work in the new year with ABC local radio. “I’m looking forward to getting my hands dirty and putting the skills I’ve learned into practice,” she said.