Grapeshot: Tell us about what you do, and how you got there.
Tess: I’m the Breakfast host of 2ser 107.3 FM! I’ve been at the station for a bit over three years in total, but I’ve been working as the Breakfast host for almost 4 months now. I started volunteering for 2ser back in March 2015, working as a producer on the Tuesday Daily (the Daily runs from 9am-midday every week day). After a year of producing, our host moved on and started working as the 2ser Weekend Breakfast host, and I took over the presenter’s chair for The Daily. It was pretty terrifying at first, but I really enjoyed it! I spent two more years presenting the Tuesday Daily before the breakfast position opened up, and I was fortunate enough to get the gig! I’m now on air from 6am till 9am every weekday, and I’m the first woman the station has had hosting the Breakfast show full time.
G: Radio is typically a very male-dominated field, how have you found working in an industry that is filled with people like Kyle Sandilands and Alan Jones?
T: There have certainly been some interesting moments! I’ve found that any hostility has come from members of the general public instead of any people I work with. When I’ve told random people that I work in radio, I’ve been met a few times with being told that I shouldn’t be on as a solo presenter because “women just aren’t funny”. Another guy at a party told me “Sorry, I just couldn’t stand listening to you. Nothing personal, but we’re biologically programmed to respect men’s voices. The deeper the better. It’s an authority thing”. Ok buddy, sorry I bothered you with my horrible woman voice ((eyeroll)).
In all honesty, I consider myself lucky overall. The stations I’ve volunteered at and worked in have been made up of a diverse group of people, and the gender balance has always been pretty close to equal. I’ve spoken to friends of mine who work at other stations around Sydney – some of them are big commercial stations – and they all tend to say the same thing. People have sat up and paid attention to everything that’s happened to women in the past, and are working as hard as they can to stamp out any residual attitudes that reflect that of party-moron I mentioned before.
Obviously we still have a loooong way to go, but I like to think that the rampant Boys Club in media is slowly being taken apart.
G: How optimistic are you feeling for the future?
I’m feeling good! Having spoken to older women in the industry, I get the feeling that there has already been massive changes in the last few years.
I remember discussing the #MeToo movement one day with a woman I looked up to, who had been working for years. Her attitude was that if you decided that you wanted to work in an industry like media, you had to simply expect to be taken advantage of by a man at some point. I think it was the only time I’d ever gone against anything she said to me, but told her that I absolutely refused to go into a job assuming I wouldn’t be treated fairly. You know what she said? “Good”.
I was pretty taken aback by her initial position, but if that was the attitude of women entering the workforce 20 years ago compared to now, what will another 20 years achieve? I don’t think it’ll be an easy road to equality, and I don’t think it’ll be a quick one either, but I try and remain hopeful. I look at the people I work with, and the uni students who volunteer at 2ser, and think about how in 20 years it’ll be those people who are running the industry (and the world). We’re in good hands, and every time Andrew Bolt pens a racist column, I think about how it won’t be too long before he and his rhetoric are replaced by people determined to do better.
G: What would you say to other women who are looking to get in to the industry?
Go hard. Never doubt your own intelligence, and get as much experience as you can under your belt. Push your limits, do your research, and give ‘em hell!