Smooth tour at NOVA FM

Macleay College’s Advertising & Media students are pretty used to discussing work and career beyond the college sound lab, but it’s far better to see it up close …


Today, the Macleay Advertising Copywriting class had the opportunity to poke around in the real world of capital city radio, with a tour of Nova’s Sydney studios.

We arrived at the Pyrmont headquarters fashionably late. Well, just ten minutes. But in “media time” that’s like an hour. Still fashionable though #sorrynotsorry.

But look, we’ll rip the band-aid straight off now: we didn’t meet NOVA FM stars, Fitzy and Wippa. Being breakfast announcers, they’re in at 3am and out of the building by midday, maybe 1pm at the latest. So we didn’t see them in the flesh.

But!! We did get to hang around in their studio, and sit in their chairs and talk into their mics – and view their view over the Anzac Bridge.

We did see Kate Ritchie – part of NOVA’s drive time program which recently won Best On-Air team at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards. Kate just ran past us in the hall way on her way to a programming meeting. She smiled, laughed and said “Hi” then scurried into her meeting room.

This was our first inkling of how frantic Sydney radio can be.



As it happens

We really saw frantic for real, when the Smooth FM program director, Peter Clay, raced through the office to fix a computer issue in the studio while drive-time presenter Anthony Davis was going live-to-air. It just really hammered home that sense: radio is immediate.

When a problem occurs, it’s being broadcast live. We’ve spoken about it in classes, but until we saw Peter Clay taking charge like that, it was nothing more than an abstract thought.

Turning ideas into airwaves

We also met Stephen Bruce, Nova’s sales manager. He and our guide, account manager Julian Dias, explained how they take an idea and making it rain moolah. It’s actually a really long process!

It starts with the creatives coming up with their crazy ideas in the corner, they liaise with the content team to see how their ideas can be executed across different platforms: on-air, social media, websites – radio isn’t just radio any more. Then they get the sales guys involved, to get some sponsorships on it.

Sometimes, it works in reverse – the sales guys will go to the creatives, flesh out an idea and then get the promotions and production team involved from there.

Without hearing their real-world experiences seeing their ideas grow wings and flying onto the airwaves, again, we would have been left with just the abstract.



Seeing the sounds

Production was a huge highlight! We briefly met the current Australian Radio Producer of the Year, Darcy Milne, then commercial sound engineer, Shelly Mitchell spent the better part of an hour showing us the ad-making process.

We’ve had a bit of experience with Protools, but until we saw Shelly working with it, we had no idea it was so complex! There’s so much sound layering and automation in every 30 second ad. Hours of work goes into it.

And there’s also a lot of psychology too – the ad sound has to create the right atmosphere to fit with the audience demographic. You have to really understand the listener.

All in all, our tour of Nova was an eye-opener. A lot of thanks go to account manager, Julian, who took two hours out of his Tuesday to show us around and answer all our questions. What a legend!


Photos and Blog by Emma-Marie Horn. Guest Lecturer – Advertising & Media Faculty, Macleay College.

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