Does being up the duff send your career up the creek ?

Sarah Levett is a successful standup comedian, writer, MC, co-host of the New FM Breakfast Show … and soon to be a Mum for the first time.

Today, Sarah writes the first in a series about the emotional and professional rollercoaster ride of dealing with the management, audience and peer perceptions of having a baby – while maintaining a successful career.

I am sure that it is normal for all women - when they see the double lines on “that stick” - that there is a moment of elation and then trepidation. At least I hope that’s normal.

Because I experienced both.

Shortly after the elation of knowing I’d have 9 months of having my stomach kicked in, the trepidation kicked in. “What does this mean for the career that I’ve worked so hard for?!?”. Then… “Oh my god, I can't put on weight!” (there is still pressure to have a good head, even in radio).

And…“What will the higher powers-that-be think?” (Fortunately, management here has been very positive, supportive, and excited for me - as I’m sure most management throughout the industry is nowadays – but you understand the sense of trepidation, right?)

And … What will an audience think of a heavily pregnant woman on stage? ”She can't say that - she is ‘With Child’”

And (importantly for standup comedy - and also for radio when the songs are playing) … “When I’m pregnant, is it ok to swear?”

While all this was raging through my brain, I did have a moment of clarity: I can do both! I can have it all! After all, when my Mum was pregnant with me in the late 70's she was flat-out running a live rock agency representing big music artists – she was a high-powered, 80-hour-a-week Alpha-Chick, and all that - the hospital had to call her to tell her it was time to come in and be induced. So she peeled the phone from her ear, finished up the paperwork for the day and went into hospital.

She was back at work in no time (with me under the desk).

And she brought me up with that same strong work ethic. I’ve never taken a sick day - except that one time when I passed out on the surgery floor (very embarrassing, I had pulled my neck so badly during pump class it was pinching a nerve and making me ill) and the Doctor said, “you can't go to work today”. Through tears of agony and anguish I found within me the voice of that chick from The Exorcist - “Waddyamean I can’t go to work?!?”.

Which led to one of my fears of being pregnant - would I be considered “soft” if I took a day off or complained. The first Trimester is hard because you’re not telling people - morning sickness and breakfast radio don't mix.

So … no days off yet – and I’m (3 months) pregnant. But is it wrong that I secretly hoped to get morning sickness so I might not blow up overnight like a blimp? Nobody told me morning sickness would be all day nausea without any calorific benefits – thanks very much!

And of course, as I alluded to above … regardless of living in these enlightened times with HR rules around pregnancy and maternity leave, and regardless that management here is so positive and supportive, work-wise the big niggling fear is that somehow having a baby might be the end of this part of my career. Let’s face it: we’ve all heard the stories, whether the woman having the baby was on-air or off-air – get pregnant, have a baby, take your maternity leave with the promise of coming back to the same (or a similar) role … and sure, Jackie O, Wendy Harmer, and Kate Langbroek and a few other high-profile stars came back to their gigs … but what about the rest of us?

Never mind that when the Doctor told me “your body clock is bonging like Big Ben on speed - better start trying for a baby … now!” (I am only 34). I started daydreaming that I’d get pregnant quickly - so that the baby would arrive in the last few weeks of the survey year and I could take a short maternity leave through December to be back on board and breast-feeding live on-air in Survey 1! Of course, the timing hasn’t quite worked out that way, but that daydream did pass through my mind*.

And, regardless of wanting to continue my career while becoming a Mum, rightly or wrongly the perception amongst many women in radio is that management is likely to think “well, she’s turned into a baby factory now - who else can we get?”

I am curious to hear from other women in our industry who have felt these and other emotions and trepidations after learning they were pregnant – rather than just feeling free to wallow in the joy of getting pregnant against the biological odds. So, whether you’re in a management role, on air, promotions, news, or whatever else, I’d love to hear from you. And, of course, please feel free to remain anonymous.

* Note: I will be taking a very short maternity leave in survey before getting back on air a.s.a.p. That’s not due to pressure on me from management to get back on air – and I’m not saying this to judge anyone who wants to take maternity leave for as long as they want, as the choice is different for everyone. But my choice is to get back on air and on-stage as soon as possible.

Published on Tuesday, 14 August 2012 06:00

Kelli Paun(7:26am 14 Aug 2012)
WOW I'm not even pregnant and all those thoughts and feelings I have felt just thinking about the day I decide to take that new title, you are spot on with the fear and the thought of losing everything you have worked hard for, great read and being a female in the industry its nice to know I wasn't alone in this way of thinking, thanks Sarah
Anonymous(8:11am 14 Aug 2012)
I loved my role in radio and I was pretty damn good at it too!! When I fell pregnant with my first child I had dreams that I would have 12 months off and then return to work in a part time capacity. All was going swimmingly, I has a beautiful baby, spent the first year at home and when it came to going back to work I was told it was full time or nothing (which I have since found out was illegal) so I suppose I'm the one with the negative story. Having a child has been the best thing I ever did, even though I lost a job I loved in the process. Best of luck Sarah I look forward to reading about your journey to motherhood, what an exciting time for you.
Sarah Levett(8:38am 14 Aug 2012)
Thanks Kelli for your comment and great to hear from others ( who are obviously out there). Love to hear from the other side of the mic too. HR, Management etc?
Anonymous(8:42am 14 Aug 2012)
I'm not pregnant yet but am trying! Your article is definitely food for thought. It's great to see such a gusty, young women in the industry wanting to have it all because it gives the rest of us hope that we can do it as well! Good Luck
Sarah Levett(8:53am 14 Aug 2012)
Thanks Anonymous 1. Sorry to hear you had a negative experience. Bitter sweet. I hope you have found something else you love to do in the way of work.
Anonymous(9:06am 14 Aug 2012)
In an on air role I too dread the day I have to tell the boss I'm pregnant. I'm not trying yet but have thought about later on timing it so the birth is around the Christmas/ New Year survey break.

There's nothing worst than constantly feeling as though you could possibly be punted for the talent that fills in for you.

HR, GMs and PDs at networks around the country should offer more support to young women.
Sarah Levett(9:26am 14 Aug 2012)
Anonymous 2, thanks for the comment. As I mentioned, Being raised by a successful Talent Manager and single Mum. Having it all is all I know.

Anonymous 3. I am certainly not alone. Thanks.I am known for my organisation skills but this little project had a mind of it's own. It was in the diary
Anonymous(11:00am 14 Aug 2012)
I am sorry i actually disagree. As a women who doesn't actually want to have kids why should a company hold open a position so that you can take 12 months off and then come back and work part time. Its a business not a charity. This goes for radio, the tax department, what ever. Its a privilage to have a baby but it is a also a repsonsibilty that you need to juggle. You can't have both and if you do that means sacrifice one of them or both of them somewhat.

Unfortunatley for 100 out there who want to do the right thing there are 100 who are taking the system for a ride. Good luck to you Sarah I hope it all goes well.
Callum Jones(12:57pm 14 Aug 2012)
Reading this makes me glad I'm a guy! All I can say is enjoy the ride, and keep connecting with your audience and loving what you do!
Jason McLean(13:16pm 14 Aug 2012)
Ok girls....this from a guy. I remember a few years back, a bloke in lower management said having a baby is a womans choice and the station owes them nothing. I was a bit startled but bear in mind, he was no fan of the woman about to take maternity leave. I think a station will support a woman if they value her work highly and don't want to lose her, but if they don't....they may use it as an excuse to move her on. Same would happen in any business.
Sarah Levett(13:50pm 14 Aug 2012)
Anonymous 4.I appreciate your thoughts. As mentioned I am not expecting to have my role kept open. I am very aware that an on air personality taking 12 months off is tough for everyone involved and can affect loads of people's jobs, too. Though as I pointed out, management here have been very supportive and I'm hoping to continue on-air after the baby is born. And I'd like to add, in all seriousness: good on you for exercising your right to not have children just because you are woman - it's every woman's right to choose, and not have to feel pressured one way or the other.
Sarah Levett(14:17pm 14 Aug 2012)
Nice to have some blokes respond.

Thanks Callum. I LOVE what I do.

Jason-I am just lucky that my Management and on air team are very supportive. In fact it is making for some great content.
Anonymous(22:16pm 14 Aug 2012)
Hey guys I have a good story .... I have worked in the industry for a long time , so when I fell pregnant with my first child I was nervous about returning to my job and how it would effect my career... But I had an amazing boss and GM who allowed me flexible hours.... I in return worked really hard to show them that having a baby does not mean you can't be a great employee and deliver great results. I have now come back from my second mat leave . You can be great at your job , have a career and be a great mum. It takes commitment and hard work and a good support network . If your good at your job your career will not suffer by having a child, but like everything in life it's up to you.
Sarah Levett(7:52am 15 Aug 2012)
Thanks Anonymous 5. Great to hear you had a positive experience.It sure does take determination, juggling skills and a great deal of support from work and home. You are testament that it can be done. I am sure that is reassuring for those expecting or thinking of travelling the road. Does anyone else have a positive experience?
Anonymous(9:22am 15 Aug 2012)
I have found all these comments very helpful as I decide for the first time in my life to try to have children. As a 40 woman I have spent my life in 'career mode' and love working in Radio Management. However the maternal instincts have finally kicked in. I am giving it 12 months, and if nothing happens well then I'll keep on with the career. However if a baby does come along, I don't expect to be able to go back to the same role, for the sake of the organisation and my child. I do hope however that I've gained enough talent and skills to contribute in a part time capacity some how - whether it's with my existing employer or another in the industry. Having a child is 'a career move' for most women, and it's reasonable for them to weigh this up as part of the decision to start a family.
Guy(9:39am 15 Aug 2012)
Hope thats me your talking about Sarah (Very supportive, caring and wonderful management)if not..... YOUR FIRED :-)
Sarah Levett(12:33pm 15 Aug 2012)
Thanks anonymous 6, glad you have found it helpful. I wish you all the best with your baby plans. It was certainly something I weighed up. I have always wanted children though, so when the Dr said I needed to get a hurry on for medical reasons I decided to take the plunge and cross the bridges when I came to them.
Barry Eaton(14:52pm 15 Aug 2012)
Sarah, I went on a honeymoon many moons ago and while we were in Hawaii there was a change of management at the Sydney radio station where I was working. I was not there to defend my position and came back to a very painful telephone message telling me not to come back to work.

So it happens to guys too (and I wasn't even pregnant)

PS I got a better opportunity anyway...
Sarah Levett(16:22pm 15 Aug 2012)
Thanks for sharing your story Barry. I guess that can happen to anyone in any industry really. As you mentioned, everything happens for a reason. Hurts at the time I am sure. Bet Hawaii soon became a distant memory.

While this can happen to anyone at anytime. Women have that extra weight on their shoulders and there ain't anything you or I can do to change that...I don't think. If there were I would be a billionaire. If you could, would you want to carry the baby? It is also the reason Men climb higher on the corporate ladder...
Terry(10:12am 16 Aug 2012)
You haven't lived until you have been on holiday and come back to someone else sitting in your chair.
Sarah Levett(12:54pm 16 Aug 2012)
Terry, if that is living, I would rather be Can only imagine how awful that would be.
Jess Scully(14:13pm 16 Aug 2012)
Some interesting thoughts I've often wondered at my very young age of 21. The obvious congratulations are in order and I hope everything turns out for the best Sarah!

 Post Anonymously 

   I am a real live breathing human person

SCA has a vacancy for a Digital Content Director for Triple M Melbourne. Details


ARN has a vacancy for a Music Director and Audio Production for iHeartradio. Details.



Nova 91.9 Adelaide has a vacancy for an Executive Producer for Breakfast. Details.





ACE Radio Network are looking to develop the Talent Bank.  Details




Hit 92.9 Perth has a vacancy for an Executive Producer. Details.


ARN has a vacancy for a Content Creative Producer for The Kyle and Jackie O Show Details.


102.9 Hot Tomato has a vacancy for a Drive News Journalist / News Presenter for a maternity leave contract. Details.

Radio Hauraki Auckland has a vacancy for a Content Director. Details.


2ST and 949 Power FM are looking for a Senior Content Director. Details.



Nova Entertainment has a vacancy for a Technology Manager for Melbourne. Details.



7HOFM in Hobart are looking for an Announcer. Details



Wave FM has a vacancy for a Promotions Manager. Details.


Wave FM has a vacancy for a Breakfast Show Producer. Details.


7HOFM are looking for a Breakfast Co Host. Details.



KIX Country Radio Network has a vacancy for a Program and Content Director based in Bundaberg. Details.


ARN has a vacancy for Campaign Manager for Hughesy and Kate National Drive Details.


2DAY FM has a vacancy for an Imaging Breakfast Producer.  Details


Recent Comments

Osher Gúnsberg  is joining Stav and Abby on hit105 Breakfast in Brisbane for 2016


Dean ‘Deano’ Thomas is the new Nova 100 Breakfast Anchor in Melbourne for 2016.





Former Fox FM breakfast host Troy Ellis is joining Jo and Lehmo on breakfast next year as anchor


Jaben Ryan is heading  to Melbourne to take on Nova 100 Mornings.




Ryan Rathbone is the new National Content Director for The Edge brand in NZ


After four years with ARN and the anchor for Brig and Lehmo  on Gold104.3, Joe Bovalino will finish up with the station at the end of Survey #8.




Gemma Fordham will be the  new Head of Hit Network, Content for Southern Cross Austereo




Jo Stanley will join Anthony ‘Lehmo’ Lehmann on Gold 104.3 for 2016 Breakfast.

ARN has announced that Brigitte Duclos has left GOLD104.3.






Dave Cameron will take on the new role of Head of National Content and Development


Nick Gill is joining Sophie Tiller for breakfast on Newcastle’s NXFM.


Most Read (Last 30 Days)

Adelaide Advertisers

1. National Tiles National Tiles Co Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Coles Coles Group Ltd (Wesfarmers Ltd)
4. Puratap Puratap Pty Ltd
5. Radio, It's A Love Thing Campaign Commercial Radio Australia Ltd

Brisbane Advertisers

1. National Tiles National Tiles Co Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Coles Coles Group Ltd (Wesfarmers Ltd)
4. Radio, It's A Love Thing Campaign Commercial Radio Australia Ltd
5. Digital Radio Plus Commercial Radio Australia Ltd

Central Coast Advertisers

1. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Domayne Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Mingara One Mingara Recreation Club Ltd
4. Central Coast Holden Central Coast Holden
5. Youi Youi Pty Ltd

Gold Coast Advertisers

1. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Domayne Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Manchester Importers Manchester Importers
4. Beds 'R' Us Beds 'R' Us Pty Ltd
5. Warner Bros Movie World Village Roadshow Theme Parks Pty Ltd

Melbourne Advertisers

1. National Tiles National Tiles Co Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Digital Radio Plus Commercial Radio Australia Ltd
4. Radio, It's A Love Thing Campaign Commercial Radio Australia Ltd
5. Coles Coles Group Ltd (Wesfarmers Ltd)

Newcastle Advertisers

1. Domayne Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Nobby Kitchens Nobby Kitchens
4. Leah Jay MORPLEA Pty Ltd
5. Climax Suspension Climax Suspension

Perth Advertisers

1. RAC Channel Seven Christmas Pageant RAC / Seven Network Ltd / City Of Perth
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Coles Coles Group Ltd (Wesfarmers Ltd)
4. Hungry Jack's Brekky Muffins Hungry Jack's Pty Ltd
5. Radio, It's A Love Thing Campaign Commercial Radio Australia Ltd

Sydney Advertisers

1. Mortgage House Mortgage House Pty Ltd
2. Harvey Norman Harvey Norman Holdings Ltd
3. Digital Radio Plus Commercial Radio Australia Ltd
4. Masterton Homes Masterton Homes Pty Ltd
5. Bing Lee Bing Lee Electrics Pty Ltd

Wollongong Ratings

1 I98 23.8 (28.5) WIN
2 Wave FM 16.0 (17.3) GRANT
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2014
  • IRIS Research

Wellington Ratings

  NewstalkZB 14.5 (15.3) NZME
  The Breeze 12.5 (13.7) Mediaworks
  The Hits 9.4   NZME
  ZM 6.7 (11.3) NZME
  The Sound 9.8 (7.5) Mediaworks
  The Rock 6.8 (7.4) Mediaworks
  The Edge 7.5 (6.6) Mediaworks
  Coast 4.9 (5.7) NZME
  • 10+ share, Survey 2/2014

Warrnambool Ratings

1 Coast FM 37.7 - Ace
2 3YB 21.7 - Ace
3 triple j 7.3 - ABC
4 ABC Local Radio 4.0 - ABC
5 ABC Radio Nat. 2.5 - ABC
6 Classic FM 1.5 - ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2015
  • Xtra Research

Sydney Ratings


  2GB 12.0 (12.8) MRN
 ABC 702 10.3 (8.9) ABC
  WSFM 7.5 (7.3) ARN
  TRIPLE M 6.0 (6.0) SCA
 KIIS 1065 7.7(7.5) ARN
 smoothfm 95.3 7.4 (8.2) NE
 Nova 96.9 7.2(6.7)NE
 triple j7.5(7.3) ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey /2015


Perth Ratings

  Mix 94.5 145.2 (14.3) SCA
  Nova 93.7 11.9 (12.1) NE
  96FM 8.0 (9.4)) ARN
  triple j 11.3 (10.4) ABC
  hit 929 9.7 (11.0) SCA
  6PR 8.7(8.4)MRN
  6IX 4.5 (4.4) CAP
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 7/2015
  • 96FM now owned by ARN / 6PR owned by MRN

Newcastle Ratings

1 KOFM 1563 (15.3) SCA
2 ABC1233 13.6 (11.9) ABC
3NXFM 10.7(11.6) SCA
4 2HD 10.4 (9.8) BOG
5 Triple J 9.9 (9.9) ABC
6New FM8.5(10.0)BOG
7 Classic FM 4.0 (3.) ABC
  • 10+ Share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2015


Melbourne Ratings


  3AW 14.5 (14.3) MRN
  ABC 774 9.9 (10.3) ABC
  Gold 8.3 (8.1) ARN
  Triple M 7.5 (7.4) SCA
  Fox FM 9.4 (9.2) SCA
  smooth935 8.1 (7.7) NE
  KIIS 101.1 5.9 (5.9) ARN
 Nova 100 7.0(6.8)NE
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 7/2015
  • Mix101.1 now KIIS 101.1 

Gold Coast Ratings

1 Hot Tomato 14.2 (14.1) HT
2 Gold FM 11.9 (14.3) SCA
3 Sea FM 9.6 (9.5) SCA
4 ABC 91.7FM 7.9 (6.7) ABC
5 triple j 7.8 (9.4) ABC
6 ABC612 5.2 (3.3) ABC
7 Radio National 2.5 (2.3) ABC
  • 10+ Share Mon-Sun, Survey 1/2015


Christchurch Ratings

  Newstalk ZB 15.3 (17.0) NZME
  More FM 14.6 (10.7) Mediaworks
  The Breeze 9.9 (10.2) Mediaworks
  The Rock 8.6 (9.0) Mediaworks
  The Edge 6.9 (6.9) Mediaworks
  The Sound 9.0 (6.0) Mediaworks
  The Hits 3.5 (5.7) NZME
  • 10+ share, Survey 2/2014

Canberra Ratings

  104.7 17.9 (18.8) SCA
  ABC666 15.9 (15.3) ABC
  Mix 106.3 13.6 (13.9) SCA
  Classic FM 10.0 (8.6) ABC
  triple j 8.2 (8.2) ABC
  2CC 6.8 (6.1) Capital
  2CA 6.0 (5.5) Captial
  Radio National 3.9 (3.6) ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 3/2015


Brisbane Ratings


 Nova 106.9 11.3(10.9)NE
 ABC61211.3(9.8) ABC
  4MMM 9.1 (10.3) SCA
 hit105.3 10.9(9.8) SCA
  4KQ 7.8 (8.4) ARN
  TRIPLE J 7.1 (7.1) ABC
  4BC 5.9 (5.9) MRN
 Magic 882 4.7(4.7) MRN
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 7/2015
  • B105 now hit105.3

Auckland Ratings

  Newstalk ZB 13.4 (13.4) TRN
  Coast  7.8 (9.6) TRN
  The Edge 7.7 (78.) Mediaworks
  The Breeze 7.8 (7.0) Mediaworks
  The Hits 5.3 (6.7) TRN
  ZM 4.5 (5.9) TRN
  Mai FM 5.2 (5.2) TRN
  • 10+ share, Survey 2/2014

Adelaide Ratings

  Mix 102.3 14.7 (15.2) ARN
 Nova 91.9 10.1 (10.5) NE
  FIVEaa 9.9 (11.5) NE
 ABC89110.3(10.1) ABC
  Cruise 8.7 (8.2) ARN
  Triple M 9.1 (8.8) SCA
  hit107 9.0 (9.3)) SCA
 triple j 7.2 (7.) ABC
  • 10+ share Mon-Sun, Survey 7/2015 (GfK)
  • hit107 on-air Oct 2014, was SAFM
CompanyStock IDPriceChange
Southern Cross Media
APN News & Media
Fairfax Media
Macquarie Radio
Pacific Star Network
Oceania Capital
Ten Network
Seven West Media
Nine Entertainment
Prime Media


Most Commented (All Time)