GOLD104.3’s Troy Ellis on coming back, coming out and being on top
Former Fox FM breakfast host Troy Ellis made the switch to ARN’s Gold104.3 with Jo and Lehmo for breakfast back in 2016, and since then has gone from strength to strength.
Radio Today chatted to Troy about his long history of being part of successful Melbourne teams, and what goals he still has left to achieve.
It’s been nearly 2 years now at GOLD104.3 how’s the year been?
2017 has been a fun year for me at GOLD104.3, I’ve loved it. I joined the station in 2014, and have anchored Jo (Stanley) and Lehmo (Anthony Lehmann) for breakfast for the past couple of years. Going back into an anchor role was super exciting for me having done it at Fox with Matt Tilley and Jo Stanley for over 10 years. It’s been a great couple of years at GOLD, the music’s obviously different and there was a new playout system to get my head around, but the energy required is the same, and lots of the show content is similar. I love the anchor role.
On that, what makes a good anchor?
Someone that’s able to steer the ship in a certain direction, and then get out of the way but come back in so the ship doesn’t end up on the rocks! Pretty simple really, shine the light on the comedic talent, and let them fly, let them do their thing. I’ve always been of the mindset that it’s not about me, I’m there to facilitate, to “EmCee” if you like, to provide the platform. It’s about keeping the show on track, on time, supporting the on-air team and being there to bounce off and contribute if and when needed. I think that’s important, to have the capability to contribute if required, but not be front and centre of the show. I think the role lends itself to setting in-studio energy, especially while the show is on air.
How did you get your start?
In promotional vehicles throwing chips and coke. Jeff Allis was my first PD and gave me my first on-air shift and I was terrified. It was 1am-6am one Sunday morning and I think I got to work the Saturday afternoon prior to prepare for it. Fortunately I didn’t stuff it up and was fortunate to be offered more opportunities over the time I was at Fox before moving to GOLD104.3 in 2014.
What was it like changing station formats?
It’s been lots of fun. You just adapt. Like any new challenge, it’s something different that I’ve enjoyed. You work the format, you consume the stuff your audience consumes, you put yourself into their world, and you just relate. I listen to a wide variety of music and radio stations and I’d like to think I could get my head around most formats. The team at GOLD have been so supportive of me from Day 1, and I feel lucky to work with such a talented bunch of people.
Biggest thing you’ve learnt in last couple of years?
- The GOLD audience is funny. I love the listeners, they genuinely make me laugh each day.
- That radio is going to be around for a long time yet. The morning commute in Melbourne is horrendous, and as the traffic jams keep getting longer, radio will grow audience as long as we as a platform deliver compelling, relevant and unique content. That’s our challenge as a medium and it’s something I think about all the time.
- Enjoy the moment. It’s a privilege to accompany so people into their days.
You had a year off between the Fox and GOLD, why did you do that and what did you do with yourself?
I’d actually been getting up at 4am for 12 years and was definitely ready for a sleep-in. I needed a rest, a re-charge and some time out. I also needed to prove to myself that there was something else I could do apart from radio as I’d grown up behind the mic and had never really done anything else full-time. I have a business degree in property and accepted a role to help shape and build a new real estate business in Bayside Melbourne, which I really enjoyed. The break from radio though gave me some wonderful perspective, and it was stepping away from it for 12 months that reignited my passion and led me back to breakfast anchoring.
You “came out” on Fox breakfast in 2013, as a gay man how accepting have you found the radio industry to work in?
Doing that on air in 2013 was totally unplanned, it just happened one day as part of a segment and I was in no way prepared for the amount of people who got in touch with me through social media over the weeks that followed to say thanks, that they’d grown up listening to me and that my honesty about who I was had helped in their own personal struggles, and I’m really happy that it had that sort of impact. It’s probably the most nervous I have ever been on air, perhaps except for that first mid-dawn shift years before. I’ve always found the industry incredibly supportive on that front, and being gay was never a secret, or an issue off the air around the office, but I guess I had grown up learning to hide that part of myself somewhat and it had never found its way onto the air, until the day it did.
You’ve worked at two top rating breakfast shows now, what do you think it takes to be a top breakfast show?
The best ideas can come from the smallest things. Breakfast teams that encourage input from both the on-air and off-air team can lead to amazing show content. So, giving everyone an equal voice in planning meetings is critical and sets shows up for success. As far as on-air goes, I think two important things to work on and get right are chemistry and trust between the on-air team. One feeds the other and if you get these intangibles right, the sky’s the limit.
Do you have any more radio goals you’d like to nail?
I love being a show anchor, I really enjoy that role. Setting the energy, the pace, driving the desk and finding those highs to get out of a break on is still a daily buzz for me at GOLD. Beyond what I’m currently doing, I could see myself working as a contributing anchor at some point in the future, because like most of us I think I’ve got a bit to say and can contribute more! Challenges are good, and it’d be something I’d love to consider if the right opportunity comes along and when the time is right.
Finally any advice for young presenters who are trying to work their way up to metro radio ?
Just get experience anyway you can. I started in community radio, and I worked at a few community stations learning the basics and getting comfortable and confident behind the panel before landing my first paid gig in Wangaratta at 3NE. Listen back to yourself critically and try new things. Seek to find a great mentor or two, and surround yourself with supportive and cohesive teams. My buzz for radio is still just as strong today as it was when I first started, and I’m thankful for that. Enjoy the ride.