Bridget Hustwaite, presenter at Triple J

Bridget Hustwaite, presenter at Triple J. Photo supplied by Bridget Hustwaite.
“It’s a tough gig. Things don't just happen for you overnight so it’s important to remember why you started in the first place.” Triple J presenter Bridget Hustwaite talks to Nicolas Rivet.

So, how does a small-town country girl from Ballarat go about getting a job as a radio presenter at Triple J?

Well, it all started with a Channel V competition in 2012. I was finishing up a visual merchandising course and saw that they were looking for a new music presenter. It was something I was always interested in but never considered as a potential career path. I just figured, why not? So I auditioned. Obviously I didn’t win, but I did really well – I came second. I think I realised then that I could very well do something like this for work.

I started applying for online publications that would get me to do gig reviews and interviews with all sorts of different artists. I also started volunteering at Syn Radio and tried to get as much experience as possible. That’s when I did the most valuable networking. The majority of people I know in the industry today are from community radio or independent blogs. They’re essentially the backbone of this industry. It wasn’t until the end of 2015 that I was offered a spot on Triple J’s mid-dawn program.

How were you presented with that opportunity?

It all happened so quickly. I was still doing community radio at Syn at the time. We had an annual awards night and one of the guys who was presenting an award that year was a producer from Triple J. When they introduced him onto the stage, my ears perked up straight away and I started thinking of ways I could approach him. Typical me, I hit him up on Twitter and asked for his email address so I could pick his brain. He suggested I put together a few demos which he then passed onto the content director who then contacted me and asked to meet me in person. I thought it was going to be a super-casual meeting, but he told me he was going to throw me straight into the deep end and put me on air in a couple of weeks.

What was your first time on air with Triple J like?

It was absolutely terrifying. I went from a community radio station that was only being broadcast in Melbourne to what was pretty much the entire country plus people streaming overseas. I mean, this is the station that has over a million followers on Facebook. It’s a big deal for people our age so I was beyond nervous.

What is it about this industry that appeals to you so much?

As cliche as it sounds, I think it’s the sense of community. I’ve met some really great people working in music. Well, when I say “working”, it’s primarily volunteering. This industry is so damn hard. The people I’ve met are poor, but they’re passionate. They’re the right people in it for the right reasons and I’m very lucky to have been acquainted with each and every one of them. Music is such a creative field and creative people tend to be very emotional so you’re faced with a lot of vulnerability, but we do it because we love it.

Who are some of the people you look up to in the industry?

I am a big fan of Linda Marigliano. I really look up to her as a presenter. She knows so much about music – both local and international. She has a real talent for engaging her listeners and she’s so bubbly and happy. She never sounds like she’s having an off day. Still, a lot of the people I look up to are the people who are still doing a lot of unpaid stuff. Music writers, photographers, presenters – I know how hard they hustle.

What do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?

Do it because you love it. This is an industry that you have to stick with for a long time to get somewhere. You really need to be in it for the right reasons. A lot of people come into it wanting to make money or become famous when it shouldn’t be about that.

Always be nice because people talk. Be realistic, but don’t be discouraged. Know that it’s hard work, but don’t let that stop you. It’s a tough gig. Things don’t just happen for you overnight so it’s important to remember why you started in the first place.