In April this year, local broadcaster Jaclyn Underwood, more affectionately known by listeners as Jac, announced on air a move to the big smoke.
As a radio-listening public, we were happy to see Jac spreading her wings and following in the footsteps of her parents and working as part of a large Metropolitan newsroom. However happy we were for Jac though, there was certainly sadness, as her much-loved show focusing on local issues and news was a highlight of the day for many.
“I received a phone call out of the blue from a metro station. I was offered a role in their 24 /7 Newsroom. I didn’t say yes initially it was something I took a few weeks to think about. In the end, I decided that if I didn’t go and explore the opportunity, I would always be wondering what if!” said Jac.
The hectic pace of a national and international newsroom was apparent from the first day. However, the experience was a rewarding one, and there was a great deal of learning for Jac.
“I learnt so much about national and international news, the news cycle and about news-reading and writing in general. I really enjoyed learning to write sports news and was lucky enough to cover Wimbledon in my reporting, including some live crosses to courtside in London during bulletins. I learnt so much that I know will make me a better broadcaster.”
“Radio is my lifelong goal so learning as much about the craft as I can is really important to me. News is one aspect. Programming and interviewing are others. Sales, traffic, technology, audio production, and producing they are all different crafts that require their own unique set of skills but ultimately need to work together to achieve the final product a listener hears across the airwaves. After experiencing news I can now say that particular craft is not my lifelong goal but it was a vital and important learning curve,” said Jac.
After a number of months of working in her new role and environment, Jac started to get the feeling that maybe the role was not the best place for her.
“It takes a certain amount of ‘being real with yourself ‘ to reach inside and contemplate that feeling, question where it’s coming from and what it means. I actually kept a journal, and I recorded how I felt every morning a close friend and mentor suggested it actually, I did that for a couple of weeks, and the end result was deciding to move home,” Jac added.
“I missed so much. Mostly the community, I missed telling regional stories. I missed sharing good news stories of triumph and celebrating the people that make up this wonderful place. I also missed the program – it’s a huge privilege to host 4 hours a day of live radio. Interviewing guests is something I really enjoy, and the fact that it is a live-to-air program adds that element of adrenaline which is quite addictive! I love the immediacy and intimacy of radio, and regional radio is really very special – there is scope to tease out issues in a way that you can’t in other markets,” she said.
“I also missed my family and my dog Zephyr who stayed on the farm. I missed the rolling hills and the markets on a weekend and the friendly faces you run into whilst getting coffee or doing a bunnings run!”
Jac has had an emotionally overwhelming welcome home from her colleagues and listeners alike, with some going as far as delivering homemade baked goods to the station, something that would never happen in a big city station.
The experience has helped Jac define her purpose and perhaps lay the direction of her future clearly in front of her.
“Ultimately, my why is how can I help? How can I leave a positive impact on those around me? How can I serve and be useful to my community?
I’m not interested in fame or material things. I want to help spread joy and positivity and be a friend. Radio is a unique vehicle to do that. I feel it’s a huge responsibility to be able to ask questions on behalf of listeners and shine a light on issues that are important to the people who live here. That means I’m extremely motivated to get up every day with that in mind and try to do my absolute best.”