Kris McKenzie, acting news director at Southern Cross Austereo in Melbourne

Kris McKenzie acting News Director at Southern Cross Austereo in Melbourne
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"Most positions these days require multiple skill sets. So the more experience you can get the better, and a good place to start can be at somewhere smaller where you’re forced learn a lot in a short time." Kris McKenzie, acting news director at Southern Cross Austereo in Melbourne, also works as 'The Rush Hour’ drive news presenter on 105.1 Triple-M. He talks to Sam Fantasia.

 

By Sam Fantasia

Early on in the job, what made you feel most out of your comfort zone?

I’d have to say being away from Melbourne. Obviously it’s different for everyone but that first job in the country is a rite of passage for many people in the media, and mine just happened to be in a different state.

How did you deal with that?
Again I think I was fortunate to have some great colleagues who were also away from their family and friends, which helped a lot. In that regional setting you’re also I suppose forced to get involved in the local community quite a bit so it wasn’t long before it felt like home.

Why did you move from announcing to more of a news/sports role early in your career?

Well after spending a few years working up through pretty much every content role at my first station, I thought I was ready for a new challenge and a bigger market. But I wasn’t actually thinking about news until the owner of the network convinced me it was the only way I was going to get to his station in Canberra. Then it was a case of trying to combine that on-air experience with my earlier study and what I was able to learn from some other great journalists in the network. Since then I’ve never really considered going back.

What’s the biggest challenge working as a Journalist compared to some of your other positions like Music Director?

Both can definitely be as equally stressful, but I’d say the biggest difference would the deadlines. Just once I’d love to go on that long lunch with the rest of the team! But of course that’s also one of the best things about working in news, every day and in my case every hour is different – you never know what’s going to happen.

Any tips on how to deal with that pressure?

(Laughs) It’s definitely not for everyone.  Building good habits is obviously important, and it does get easier with experience. One thing I do try to do is get outside or go for a little walk around the office at least once during my shift, even for a few minutes just to reset. But normally it’s about being prepared so you can deal with the big story when it breaks.

And what preparation is part of your daily routine? Honestly the biggest thing for me is trying to stay across as much of the news cycle as possible and obviously it helps if you’re actually interested in your chosen field, or if like me you get to call watching the footy on the weekend research. Usually I will make sure I’ve at least had a quick glance of the headlines online before I get into the office so I’m not starting my day cold. Then it’s just a case of banking as much content as I can and working out a plan for what stories will run where.

Any advice for young reporters struggling to find work?

Be persistent. The industry can be extremely hard to break into, but there are opportunities out there, many of them not widely advertised, and a lot of it comes down to contacts and timing especially in metro markets. But also be prepared to get out of your comfort zone. Most positions these days require multiple skill sets. So the more experience you can get the better, and a good place to start can be at somewhere smaller where you’re forced learn a lot in a short time.

How important is a portfolio of work, first impressions etc?

It think it can depend on the type of job you’re going for. For broadcast journalism a demo or air check is definitely important when you’re chasing that first job, but after that your work really speaks for itself.

Why did you choose broadcast journalism over print?

I was definitely interested in both, but radio had always been a passion for me. I guess that thrill of being live on-air and not knowing how many people are listening was too good to resist.

Do you think the skills transfer across?

Definitely, and the gap is closing as the industry does more and more online. But obviously writing styles are quite different so I do believe there will always be a need for journalists who can focus and excel on one area.