This weeks ‘Week In The Life Of‘ feature is triple j breakfast producer and ex Music Industry Inside Out Intern Ashley McGregor! Ash has written a tonne of fantastic content on the website and helped make it what it is today. Before moving on to triple j in 2020, her back catalogue included presenting on 4ZZZ and Leeds Student Radio, interning with Global radio in London, and executive producing weekend breakfast show “Phoebe Shad & Tom” on NOVA Entertainment.
We’re absolutely stoked to be able to add Ashley to our awesome collection of interviews. Read on to get her music industry insights and to read about a week in her life as Triple j breakfast producer!
– A job description in your own words
The Breakfast Producer’s role varies station to station depending on how big the team is. But at triple j the Breakfast producer is the sole producer of the show, who oversees everything ‘breakfast’ – on-air, and off-air. I am the person who decides what content goes on the breakfast show, organises guests, edits interviews, liaises with the station and music industry, manages talent, oversees calendars, reports on the show, gives feedback and ensures everything that airs is up to code and standard. Essentially, the buck stops with you.
It also means you have to have your finger on the pulse and make sure the show is reflecting what is happening in the world truthfully and honestly. What is trending? What news do people need to hear? It is a lot of analysing, creating, developing new angles and keeping in touch with the audience.
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– A brief daily journal over a week (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
The day begins bright and early at 5am with show prep. Before the show, we catch up on news that has broken in the past 24 hours, listen and edit any audio that will go to air, and slot any new ideas into the show plan. The main thing is making sure every person on the team has all the information they need to have a smooth show. If we have an interview with an overseas talent, we will usually record this before we go to air too.
Then, it’s show time! During the show, I take calls, edit audio, write the show rundown, come up with angles to take each break, plan on-air surprises, pre-interview guests that are about to go live, ensure that the presenters are running on time and following the playlist, and have an ear on everything that goes to air.
Post-show is immediately followed by sending off a rundown to the triple j staff, so they know what has happened on Breakfast. The team go over the show, give each other any feedback, and celebrate any radio magic. I then liaise with Digital if any content could be turned around for an online article or social post and give our Promos team ideas for the show replays that air over the rest of the day.
It’s coffee time – an absolute life saver! This is followed by the long-form editorial meeting we have once/week. This is a meeting to pitch and discuss bigger ideas for the show and check the progress of content in the works.
I then meet with the Daily Editor of triple j who oversees all content across the shows and digital platform. This is to float ideas, flag upcoming events or themed days, workshop content and seek support on campaigns.
The rest of day is a regular routine: plan the following show, tell Music about any specific songs we need playlisted, tee up any specific callers we want to air, make sure we have all the audio for the show, pre-interview guests, liaise with the rest of the station, publicists and artist managers about any breakfast related content, and conduct any interviews that need to be recorded rather than live on air.
Once I’m on top of it all, I try and head off around 1.30pm and make the most of my day!
Back in again at 5am for the usual show prep! Tuesdays are usually the toughest show as not much happens overnight on a Monday and the textline is generally more quiet than usual…
After the show we head into an aircheck with our Big Boss (AKA the Station Manager). An aircheck is where we listen and critique parts of the show we want to develop and collaborate on any ideas we have cooking.
The rest of the day is usually show prep, random meetings and tackling longform content. This may mean finding niche guests, getting all of the station across what we are planning, creating video/social content, filling out risk assessments, researching and booking meetings into the team’s calendars.
Midweek, woohoo! The usual pre-show plan, the show and post-show meeting and coffee.
By Wednesday, I like to have a good idea of what the next week is looking like – so I send off any last-minute interview requests if there isn’t too much planned.
Other than the usual post-show planning, we have a company-wide Zoom meeting! This is with every staff member at triple j, double j and triple j Unearthed across the country – we have people INSIDE Parliament House and even someone in Broome! The meeting covers any staff notices, content we should know about and see the faces of the company working from home.
One more day until a sleep in! Thursdays are a fun show; the textline is creative, we usually have a song premiere, and my favourite segment Soundtrack Your Life is on.
Thursdays all the producers across the stations have a meeting. This is a space to pitch content, get everyone across campaigns, make sure no double-ups of guests, figure out any replays or cross-collaborations and catch up with those working from home.
I confirm the next week’s guests, plan Friday and go about my usual prep.
It’s Like A Version today! Fridays are a loose show: the audience like to get involved with whacky ideas, call through with random stories and are very vocal about everything on air.
The show is followed by another Big Boss aircheck, and then a ‘presenter jamboree’ (a very quick meeting with show producers and the presenters). This meeting is to tell weekend presenters about content they could talk about and make sure we are all across station campaigns.
Fridays, I lock in next week, tie up any loose ends and get out and into the weekend!
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– Challenges and accomplishments in your week
A challenge of the role is working with so many time zones. It means finding creative ways to involve all of Australia in content – especially when the different states and territories are going through very different experiences currently.
The coolest thing about triple j is that you are directly supporting the Australian music industry. At triple j, it’s really damn amazing to work with a bunch of young people who truly champion Aussie artists. We all live and breathe music, and it’s so fulfilling seeing a musician come up through Unearthed, triple j and then one day premiere their music on Breakfast and have texts from fans in all corners of the world.
– Highlights of the week (pros of the job)
So many highlights! Whether it be nailing an interview, locking in a big guest or chatting to my favourite regular callers; every day has wins that make a 4am alarm worth it.
This role is also very rewarding! A big win is watching content you’ve been planning for months roll out and the audience loving it. This can be a competition, merchandise, talkback, videos, and when it does well, it’s a great feeling.
– Lowlights of the week (cons of the job)
My heart sinks when a caller goes to air with a bad phone line after telling them to pull over and jump off hands free for the past 2 minutes. BAD PHONE LINE = MY PET PEEVE.
Another big challenge is breakfast hours. Seeing the sun rise most days of the year can get tiring, especially when content falls through overnight – it’s never fun receiving a ‘bad news email’ at 4am.
– Words of wisdom for people considering a job in your field
For the industry, it’s a cliché answer: it’s who you know. Go out there and network, hit up people on LinkedIn, intern at as many paces as possible, meet like-minded people, go to gigs, go to conferences, have a hunger for knowledge and show the world how passionate you are!
For a future producing radio: engage in as much radio as possible. Work for free, try different roles, make friends with everyone – basically try and live at the station! Volunteer at community radio, make demos, build your own content, send it to people in the industry. I was the kid who would race home from school and tune into the BBC Radio 1 breakfast show, email all the different stations in my city and the next, and worked insane hours for so many years to make sure I could get the next gig. You have to be prepared to sacrifice a fair amount of sleep!
It is also a role for someone who is extremely organised – you are a content creator, a manager, a publicist, a director, and a coach. It is very easy to drop the ball and not be on top of content, especially when everyone looks to you for information. So make sure you are someone who can juggle many things at once!