Tips on getting your start in radio: a chat with Jayce Flaxman

Pitching his own show to Bowral’s Highland FM 107.1 was what earned Jayce Flaxman his first position in radio. Since that moment it has remained a passion, and while he now works on numerous other ventures, he still calls that first station home.

Recently undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Radio at AFTRS, Flaxman is suddenly poised to take his career to the next level. We sat down for a chat over the New Year break to find out more about how Jayce’s journey in radio got started – and how yours could too.

jayce flaxman interview aftrs
Photo: Provided

Wanting to get your foot in the door in radio? Heed a few words of advice from community radio legend Jayce Flaxman.

HAPPY: You got your start in community radio…


HAPPY: Do you think that’s a place where everyone who’s interested in radio should look to first?

JAYCE: Yes, definitely. I think it’s a great place to start, because there’s no better way to start than getting hands-on. I started at Bowral Highland FM, which is community radio, I made my own show and went from there.

HAPPY: In terms of getting in, is there a correct ‘foot in the door’ method? Is going in with your own show pitch the right idea?

JAYCE: I think if you make your own show… well, that’s what I did. If you make your own show, you’ll be more comfortable doing your own thing, but you’ll learn a lot quickly. You’ll learn how to play music, what to do in your talk breaks, and everything like that. It’ll go very fast.

HAPPY: One good way to learn in any field is from your mistakes. Is there anything you remember doing in the early days that makes you laugh? Or cringe?

JAYCE: I made so many little mistakes. I played the wrong song, I introduced the song and said “this is the song, here it is” then hit the wrong button. You get caught when it’s all live. I was doing a sports show too, where I was reading out the scores for the week prior… that turned out pretty embarrassing. I’ve made plenty of mistakes but you learn from them all, so… I’ve got plenty more to make too.

HAPPY: What inspired you to ‘go back to school’ for the short course at AFTRS?

JAYCE: Well I felt like I already had an aptitude for radio, I’d always loved playing music and making music shows, but with AFTRS… they’re the skills to produce, make your own, and be part of a team, but if you have that initiative or drive to start with, they really encourage that. But also, a good thing too, at AFTRS you meet people who do the same thing so it’s been good to make friends like that… it’s been incredible.

HAPPY: Do you think one can be self-taught in radio, or are those kind of opportunities essential?

JAYCE: A bit of both, I mean you can start with that drive of really wanting to do it, and I was sort of self-taught in terms of I’d listened to a lot of radio and thought ‘ok, they generally play three songs then they’ll talk for two minutes’ then ‘ads are all together’ and ‘news is read at the start of the hour.’ So I was sort of ready like that, but at somewhere like AFTRS they’ll really teach you how it comes together. A bit of both, that one.

HAPPY: Has the way you looked at radio changed since doing the course?

JAYCE: Absolutely, you learn behind the scenes. I don’t know whether I should reveal but there’s a lot of smoke and mirrors in radio! Somebody can be on the air and you think they’re in the studio but they’re not. You can phone the weather in from somewhere else, that all blows my mind. You learn all the tricks of the trade.

HAPPY: I think there’s smoke and mirrors in every industry at this point!

JAYCE: Exactly. You learn a few little tricks about how to put something together, you start to learn behind the scenes.

HAPPY: Outside radio, you work with some promoters in Bowral. Do you see your community as missing live music a bit?

JAYCE: It was, it was. Down in the Southern Highlands where I call home – and I’ve lived there for about 20 years – there’s a music promoter who’s bringing live music back using one of our local bowling clubs. Before that there was really much entertainment for people who are middle aged like myself, people in their 30s and so on. The options for a night out were you were either young and go to the clubs, or you were old and hit the RSLs or something. There wasn’t much of an in-between, so it’s been good to fill in the gaps a bit. Go out there and enjoy a concert, it’s stuff you would probably hear on the radio anyway. It’s great to go out and have a good night. We need live music everywhere.

HAPPY: Sounds like the gigs have been going well.

JAYCE: Yes, me working in radio of course went hand-in-hand, so I went to most of the concerts also. It worked out well.

HAPPY: Good to hear! One last question since it’s a new year, what are you going to be up to in 2020?

JAYCE: We’re only a couple of days in! I’m applying for a few different commercial radio jobs, they’re all around the state actually, so I’m not sure where I’ll end up, so it really remains to be seen. But it’s just to keep on using my skills in the industry and really get into it.

HAPPY: Awesome to hear, Jayce. Thanks for the chat.

JAYCE: Great, thank you for having me.


Find out more about AFTRS here.