How Mariam Belle landed her dream job in radio
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about how people land jobs in media, who you need to know to open doors, and what skills will and won’t get you across the line. Here, KIIS 1065’s activations manager, Mariam Belle, reveals exactly how she changed her life and landed her dream radio role.
Mariam Belle was a brand marketer working for Kellogg’s, but it wasn’t breakfast cereals or snack bars she was dreaming of – it was radio.
She was doing community radio on the side to satisfy her craving for connection and broadcast, and it wasn’t long before marketing’s big personalities were asking her why she didn’t simply risk it for the biscuit (or the LCM, as the case may be) and try to make it in radio.
But how does one go from an established corporate career to actually working in radio?
Belle was asking herself the same question when she came across the various educational offerings of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS).
She made the leap and did a one-week radio intensive course at AFTRS. By the time it had ended, not only was her passion for radio solidified, but she now had experts in the field encouraging her to do more.
“I left on that Friday being told by the mentors that I really should apply for the postgraduate full-time course,” she says. “And I was like ‘Absolutely, I’m applying for this. This is where I’m supposed to be.’”
It was the push she needed to decide to go for it and do AFTRS’ Graduate Diploma in Radio.
“I didn’t really know how to pivot or how to put myself in front of the right people, those content directors and things like that. And then even if you got in front of those right people, what do you say?
“And so, having that training from beginning to end, and training across everything – not just the technical side using the panel, how to load audio, how to use PhoneBOX, but also how to structure a break, also to think about radio as the business and how it all works, how to structure an hour, all those sorts of things. You start working out the nitty gritty of how radio is made and you’re being trained from the very beginning on how we make a radio show, to how we then sell a radio show and promote a radio show, all the bits and pieces,” she says.
This formal training means once you’re in front of the content directors or someone who is in a position to hire you, you’re equipped, you know the right things to say and, even better, you’ve got all the training from AFTRS to back it up as well.
Belle knows there will be a hesitancy from some who think radio is but a pipedream – What if it doesn’t work out? Can they justify leaving their job or taking on additional commitments? Is the formal training really worth it? – but she truly doesn’t believe anyone will regret trying.
“AFTRS offers a variety of courses, so depending on your situation, whether you’re worried about cutting back on work or working part-time, there’s definitely a course that could suit you. And I would recommend it. You’ve got nothing to lose in just giving it a go,” she says.
“I was someone who hesitated for a long time in life, and a few years ago I made that choice to just start saying ‘Yes’ and start going for opportunities and following what I want, and it’s worked out well.”
The pay-off Belle is referring to is her role with the Australian Radio Network’s (ARN) KIIS 1065 as activations manager, which she’s had since April.
Since she graduated from the AFTRS Graduate Diploma in Radio in 2017, Belle has worked for the likes of Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and Grant Broadcasters as a Breakfast announcer, copywriter, and brand & promotions manager across markets including Hobart, Sydney and South Australia.
It’s when she talks about her current role as activations manager for the Australian Radio Network (ARN)’s KIIS 1065 and in particular The Kyle & Jackie O Show though, that you can hear her passion for radio, and her gratitude for where she is now, really ramp up.
“It honestly doesn’t feel real. It’s something I always thought to myself ‘Okay, I’ll definitely get there at some stage’. Or ‘That’s a place to aim to,’” she says of Sydney’s #1 FM Breakfast show.
“When I was working in regional South Australia and in Tasmania, I would listen to The Kyle & Jackie O Show, listen to the catch-up and things like that, and I would be missing Sydney thinking ‘Okay, I’m going to her back there’.
“So then to be here, it doesn’t feel real. It’s really exciting.”
She can’t quite put her finger on exactly what it is that gets into her heart and mind when it comes to radio, whether it’s the nostalgia of childhood road trips and connecting with on-air personalities, listening to the game-changing Hamish & Andy, or radio just being the soundtrack to every stage of life – but every moment she recalls, which furthered her love of the medium, has one thing in common: connection.
She says her connection with radio, and its ability to connect her with others, is so deeply embedded in her now, there’s simply nothing else she’d rather be doing.
“I’d really encourage anybody thinking about getting into radio and thinking they should formalise this in some way and change their life to just go for it,” she says. “You’ve got nothing to lose.”
AFTRS Postgraduate Information Week is taking place online from Monday 12 to Friday 16 July. You can find out more information and RSVP here.