A friend of mine encouraged me to share my success story the other day, and that’s been stuck in my mind so I wanted to finally get to it. Why am I in radio.
It starts back in 2007, my mother was diagnosed with lung cancer. Leaving the HNC TV course at then-James Watt College, I focused on helping with my mum’s treatment.
She passed away in 2009 and I found myself doing nothing with my life. I was deep in mourning. I was waking up, playing Call of Duty until I was exhausted then going to sleep. In 2010 I tried briefly to apply to an acting course in my birth town of Inverness – they rejected me.
In 2011 I applied to go back on the TV course. I even made a video for it, a kind of “what I’ve been doing, I can still do this” type comedy sketch based massively off one Conan O’Brien had done when he was fired from the Tonight Show and went on tour. I headed in to the interview and the lecturer who I won’t name (Ray) watched less than 15 seconds of the video, while grilling me about if I’d made it all myself. When I replied “there are some things others helped me with” he turned it off, claiming I didn’t understand television production and he wouldn’t watch any more of it because I hadn’t filmed it myself. While I’m aware that I am no Steven Spielberg or Kevin Smith, as far as I know those two gentlemen don’t do EVERYTHING themselves on a film set, do they? When was the last time Spielberg even held a camera on set? Yet, according to Ray, because I hadn’t held the camera and done it all myself, I didn’t understand TV.
So TV – rejected.
Drama – rejected.
What was I going to do with my life?
As almost an afterthought I was browsing the then-Reid Kerr College website and saw an HNC Radio course. I had an NC in acting & performance, so surely HNC Radio was a suitable acceptance? I applied and heard back from a gentleman who I also won’t name (to respect his privacy we'll call him J) inviting me to an interview.
Having never been to Reid Kerr before I got lost in the building, but found myself in front of J. I forget exactly what he asked me but I think after the general “hello, how are you” chat I think one of the first things I remember him asking me was “what will I hear if I turn on the radio and you’re on?” And honestly? I didn’t have a clue. I forget my answer, but I think I stammered something about trying to do original programming and content. I forget the rest of the interview, he said he’d be in touch and off I popped.
I will never know what J heard in me that day, but that’s the day my life changed because something in me must have impressed him. I got an unconditional acceptance and told where to go and when to go to begin the course.
I was terrified. I’d never really done radio before. I’d done performance stuff in drama and production work on the NC course. And I didn’t sleep all night before the start of the course. I was terrified of meeting my classmates, and actually doing the course. I wish I could remember that first week, and it was definitely not easy due to funding issues which at one point actually made me not turn up for a week because I didn’t know what to do to fix them.
However, J again seeing something in me he was so patient and willing to work with me that he split the course into two years for me. The rest of that first year was just an incredible experience and everything I needed in my life. The class was so welcoming and warm and we all just clicked together really quickly and got along. J has forgotten more about radio than I’ll ever learn, so he was fascinating even just to sit and talk to. And his lectures were so interesting and informative, I loved them. I did the entire year twice, I loved it so much that I didn’t want to miss a day so I came in even when I wasn’t supposed to.
So, where am I today? I do my show in three countries (a fourth to be confirmed soon) over three stations, I’m more confident to speak and produce and just do things than I ever was before. I’m a streamer on Twitch, a YouTuber, a podcaster, an interviewer, a producer, a trainer, an editor, a content creator and so many more things. Outside the world of radio, because of what I do I found I can tolerate being outside a bit more and interact with people more than previously. I have so much more confidence and awareness and just something to live my life for.
I will never be able to thank J for what he did for me on that day. He took a shot on me when 99% of people would have booted me back out the door faster than I went through it.
So that’s my success story. Admittedly there’s been a few (big time) fails along the way, some of which I’m DESPERATE to share. But I am here today and that’s my story.
Pictured from closest to furthest: Zack, Cameron, me and Billy. These guys would change my life.