Amy Ross: On Air in Victoria
We caught up with Amy Ross (Class of 2017) to get up to date with what she has been up to since leaving Santa Maria College. She tells us about her pathway to her current job as a radio journalist, runs us through a typical day at work and delves into her memories from her days at the College.
What have you been up to since graduating from Santa Maria?
After graduating from Santa Maria in 2017, I jumped straight into an Arts degree at The University of Western Australia. By the end of the first year, I realised I was burnt out from studying so decided to take a gap year in 2019. This was the best decision I made and I was able to spend five months working and road tripping across America. When I got back home, I decided to head east and study journalism at RMIT in Melbourne. I was three weeks into the degree before the pandemic hit and the state went into lockdown. Most of my course was delivered online except for a few in-person classes in the final year.
In 2022 while still studying, I picked up a job at 3AW as a producer on Neil Mitchell’s morning program. This was my first official radio job and it was an honour to work under one of the greatest in the business. Following an internship, I was able to secure a post graduate job as an audio journalist at Southern Cross Austereo, reporting on stories throughout regional Victoria and South Australia.
At the start of this year, I moved to Bendigo in Central Victoria, where I deliver the morning news for Triple M and Hit for Bendigo, Mildura and Mount Gambier. I’ve also started branching out and taking on a couple of national news shifts which is pretty cool as my family and friends back in Perth can hear me in the car! In my free time, I play hockey in both Melbourne and Bendigo, both teams have been quite successful, coming away with two premierships this year!
Why did you choose to study and work in journalism?
I love to share things with people, and story telling is a massive aspect of this job. Presenting the news is definitely my favourite part of working in radio and journalists play a strong role in the community with informing others about what is happening. I have always been a loud mouth so this job suits me perfectly, I enjoy finding out what is happening on the ground and sharing it around. Something I love about this job is how much it has broadened my horizons, I have been able to talk with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and I have learnt so much more than I could have ever imagined just from interacting with various groups.
Did you always want to work in radio journalism, or was this something you found a passion for?
I always knew I wanted to work in radio. TV and print journalism did not appeal to me in the same way. When I was in school, I worked early mornings at a bakery, so I was already prepared for the morning shifts. I would also listen to breakfast radio from 6.00 am to 9.00 am, and I knew it was a job I could definitely see myself in.
What I love about radio journalism in particular is that it is a lot more immediate than TV or print. The moment a story breaks, I can air it straight away, rather than waiting for the 6.00 pm news bulletin or for the paper to come out the next morning. Also, rather than just covering one story a day, I produce 14 bulletins in one morning shift, so I am covering up to 20 stories every day on shift. It is the fast pace and wide variety of stories that pulled me in, I love working towards a deadline and at pace, it makes things a lot more interesting!
What does a normal day at work look like for you?
It sounds crazy to some, but I wake up at 3.40 am to get to work by 4.00 am. The first thing I do is check the papers and police sites for any breaking news that may have happened overnight. My team also works to produce stories the day before, so I look to see what has been prepared. The first thing I record in the morning is the weather. The markets I’m covering right now include Central and Western Victoria, and the Limestone Coast in South Australia. I then start producing my three bulletins for those markets, the first one goes to air at 6.00 am, and there is one every hour until midday. I’m consistently having to meet an hourly deadline to make sure the news goes to air, so its go, go, go right from the start and doesn’t finish until my midday news is recorded.
The news cycle changes consistently, the biggest stories I’ve worked on recently would include the changes to the Murray Darling Basin plan, the Voice to Parliament referendum, the Commonwealth Games cancellation and both the South Australian and Victoria state elections.
The good thing about starting at 4.00 am, is that I finish at 12.00 pm, which gives me my afternoons to myself before heading to bed while the sun is still up.
While you were at the College were there any teachers or programs that had a significant impact on you? If so, how do these still effect you today?
I was always on the Santa Maria hockey team and I still play in both Bendigo and Melbourne. Being a part of a sports team helped me develop my teamwork skills and taught me the importance of hard work and commitment. I was fortunate to be one of the Corbett Captains in 2017 and I’m still very close with my co-captain to this day. In this role, I was able to grow my leadership skills, as well as time management and organisation. My homeroom teacher, Mrs Hicks, was a major influence during my time at the College. She was always in our corner and really treated us as if we were her own daughters. History was by far my favourite subject and I think Ms Taylor had something to do with it. I was in her class since Year 9 and along with many valuable history teachings, she taught me many life lessons about being an adult that I carry with me to this day.
Do you have any advice for students who aspire to be journalists?
The most valuable advice I can offer is to be kind to everyone. In this industry, connections matter, and you never want to leave a negative impression on anyone because, in this close-knit community, everyone seems to know someone else. Always work hard, do the best that you can and grab opportunities with both hands, as you never know where they may take you. The industry is hard to crack into but once you are in, you’re in. Taking up internships, even if you do not want to or need to is so important because you never know what it may lead to. I got my job at 3AW by applying for a news internship, which I did not get, but instead they offered me a casual phone operator role that progressed into something higher. Then, I was so settled in this job that I nearly didn’t take a 5 day Triple M internship, which has now blossomed into a role I have held for over a year!
Thank you, Amy, for chatting with us about your career in the journalism industry. It was fascinating to learn about everything that goes into an hourly news bulletin. We will be sure to keep an ear out for more of your appearances on national radio!