crikey

Radio: Fewer Stars, More Marketing Integration

It’s not the same game for radio announcers any more, writes freelance journalist Alyce Vayle. Broadcasters are more concerned about cross-platform integration — but is the sector becoming boring?

The value of on-air stars to radio networks is diminishing. The companies that pay the bills are much more important.

“It’s less ‘show business’ and more ‘business’,” Ryan Khay, program director of Mix, an Austereo station in Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, told Crikey. “A program director needs to be sales friendly and understand all the elements of the game.”

Gone are the days of fat announcer pay cheques. In fact, more often than announcers care to admit, wages are the same today as 15 years ago. Many announcers are forced to take on multiple roles (such as working in copywriting, promotions or programming) in order to earn a decent wage and enjoy job security.

Sean Craig Murphy, drive announcer and tutor at the Australian Radio School, put it simply: “Radio was fat. It had to get lean.”

Broadcasting stalwart Brian Carlton recently said goodbye to the media industry after 29 years of service, saying “the media is in a massive period of contraction. There has to be more to life than year-by-year contracts.” Radio legend (and voice of City Rail) Grant Goldman stated resolutely “most guys I know earn between $40,000 and $45,000 per year”. A dismal prospect indeed for the thousands of media graduates hoping for a broadcasting career.

Program directors and general managers know there’s no shortage of fresh, cheap talent. Khay says he receives at least 100 airchecks each year from announcers looking for a job; Murphy reports ”phenomenal” demand at the Australian Radio School.

It’s not the same game for announcers any more. As social media and new platforms emerge there is more need for content to be directed and “purchased” by corporations and advertisers, via collaborations, promotions and integration. On-air content is much more structured than it was in the past: chances are, if you’ve heard something on air it’s been designed to generate greater revenue.

“Our clients need to be everywhere our audience is having a conversation,” said Kate Beddoe, national digital director at the Australian Radio Network. “That means every device and every platform — from on-air to Facebook.”

And the creative content is often integrated too. “We will find more ways to integrate the listening experience with new technology and social media as it continues to evolve,” said Khay.

Mark Collier, head of radio at the Australian Film, Television and Radio School, says spinning tunes is no longer the primary skill. “Over the last five years there has been a requirement for training in cross platforms, including social media,” he said.

“The industry has become more adept at using its commercial and non-commercial space to create more effective commercial

‘cut-through’ and content.”

Recent events like the 2Day FM nurse prank scandal have shown how important it is for networks to “think” before they open the mic. With advertisers ready to pull out (and stations now voluntarily pulling them) in times of crisis, there is less room for announcers to “speak their minds” for fear of upsetting the corporate dollar.

It hasn’t always been that way. “When I started [in the 1970s] there were no formal qualifications as such,” said Trevor Sinclair, from 2CH Drive on the Macquarie Media Network, home of controversial Sydney station 2GB. Professionalism, new ideas and strategic maximisation of potential profits is now so important that AFTRS has added a 12-week “strategic radio sales” course to its curriculum. The jobs are in sales, marketing and integration.

Looking for better ways to make money out of radio is nothing new, but with profits continuing to slide — and networking and less localisation becoming the norm — some stalwart announcers fear the medium could become “a sanitised and beige industry” where announcers are muzzled by the brands advertised on the networks.

So is it dollars over “free” creative content? “The industry has become more adept at using its commercial and non-commercial space to create more effective commercial ‘cut-through’ and content,” said David Hefter, national sales director at ARN. ”Integration has been the buzzword.”

In 2013 networks can’t simply put a program, an announcer, a competition or a song on air and cross their fingers: everything is planned. “The other shift has been towards greater integration of well-thought-out and planned promotions or campaigns so as to make the message more interactive for the listener and to get them to engage with the product or service,” said Hefter.

Collier is concerned with making sure his graduates understand that working in broadcasting is not all about being a “star”.

So will the traditional radio “jock” become obsolete? Some believe that they just have to prepare to adapt. “The market is looking for more cross-platform integration using on-air talent in the digital age we now live in. Our clients are looking for true partnerships and multiplatform communications solutions, not just a radio schedule,” said Michelle Thomas, ARN campaigns and activations director.

For now creative content is safe, but announcers still need to be aware of the changing landscape of on-air content, and how it is structured, planned — and paid for.

Writer’s note: This article was originally published on the website Crikey.com.au

To read the original, please click here.

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radio panel

Sound Producers: Why They’re the Grumpiest Dudes in Radio

I pushed open the heavy, sound-proofed door to the production studio. It was the coldest and the most kitted-out place in the radio station. Andrew sat at a huge desk which was covered in knobs and faders, buttons and dials; like a radio panel, but twice as long. Facing the desk were four separate computer screens, all displaying the curvy green lines and coloured blocks of various sound editing programs. At the front of the production studio were two glass sound-proofed booths with tall mic stands, microphones, sets of headphones and “poppers”, which are like little mesh circles strapped in front of the microphones, designed to muffle plosive “p” and “k” sounds when a voice over artist is reading a script. Poppers also catch bits of stray saliva, a necessary function in anybody’s book.

The walls were covered with band stickers and racks and racks of production CDs. It was ice-cold in the production studio, and I would find out later that it was given extra cooling due to the easily-overheating and expensive computer programs and equipment that crowded the relatively small space. Production studios are often amongst the most state-of-the-art studios at any given radio station. This is where all the advertisements are made, and as the ads are what pays the bills, the wages and the rent of a station, it’s important that they sound as good as possible.

Production managers are notoriously grumpy, bad tempered and hermit-like. They hide like bridge-trolls in their little caves, constantly churning out audio, day after day. Their workload can be enormous and the job can be time consuming and frustrating. Even the most basic advertisement on radio will involve several components: usually the main part is a voice over which is done by one of the station’s announcers, or occasionally a paid, freelance or contracted voice over artist. This is usually 30 seconds long, occasionally 15. The voice over artist needs to get this done in one take, or the audio producer will be cutting up sections of audio, and that will make him or her extremely pissed off. As well as this, a typical ad will have a music bed, which also needs to run perfectly to time. The audio producer will often have to remake something from scratch if the copywriter has forgotten to include correct pronunciations, or if the voice over artist has slurred a word or vowel.

More often than not, radio ads will have more components than this. Often they’ll feature two or more voices, a jingle (which has to be sent by the advertising company) and occasionally sound effects. Splicing this altogether can take hours, and often radio ads need to be made in multiple date formats, for example, “The giant Easter Sale starts on Monday!” and “The giant Easter sale starts tomorrow!” and then “The giant Easter sales starts today!” and even “Missed the giant Easter sale? Head to our website to check out our prices!” Keeping track of all the different versions of one simple ad can be maddening. These all have to be labelled and logged correctly too, so they are played at the right time. Telling a listener that it’s Easter Monday when it’s in fact Easter Sunday can make the station sound amateurish and badly planned. Listeners love mistakes, and they are positively gleeful when pointing them out to management and other listeners.

Because advertising provides the revenue for the station, audio producers are under a lot of pressure to get the ads right. Often a client will be happy with the written script, but when they hear the ad on air they offer comments such as, “Can I have it re-recorded with a less whiny voice?” or “Can my jingle be just a little bit louder?” or “Can the music bed be a little more dynamic / less dynamic / faster / slower / more like Susan Boyle’s I Dreamed a Dream?”

Imagine the pressure of having to create ads for multiple clients who are all paying thousands. It’s even worse if the owner of the business wants his or her voice in the ads too – which often happens – as coaching an amateur can be a nightmare. It can take a professional voice over artist several takes to get a ‘read’ right – often the ad can’t be 29 seconds or 31 seconds – it needs to be bang-on 30. Audio producers often develop a thick skin and a no-exceptions policy to deal with sales staff that often come in and try to get ads produced for pushy clients within an unrealistic timeframe, and because thousands of dollars are often riding on these decisions, the PD or Sales Manager will often step in and side with the sales rep.

It’s not only the ads that audio producers create. They often have to create the sweepers, beds, show intros and outros for all the timeslots on air as well. These need to be constantly refreshed. Capping it all off, every single promotion or competition that goes to air also has audio components that need to be built. In short, the audio producer barely gets to leave his or her little cave. Any time of the day (or often night) that I’ve ever walked into a production studio, you can usually find the producer listening over and over to a snippet of audio, trying to work out if they can chop out this word or that word to save having to re-make the whole thing. Or they’ll be listening over and over to a piece of audio trying to work out if the voice over artist accidentally said “bee-stro” instead of “bistro” and whether they can get away with it without the client noticing. It would be maddening.

Of course I had some experience with dealing with audio producers at my last two jobs. Looking around the production studio that afternoon, I was sure that Andrew had heard me enter, but he was so absorbed in what he was doing that he didn’t turn around. I had met him only once before on my first day, and I hoped that he would be as nice to me as everyone else at Hitt FM.

“Uh… hi.” I ventured warily. “Um… hi… Andrew isn’t it? Excuse me…?” I shuffled my feet on the carpet and quietly cleared my throat. I suddenly felt very awkward.

The studio was quite gloomy. Andrew was hunched at his desk, sharply clicking a mouse over and over with a series of violent clicks. Each time he did so, a huge roar of audio burned through the studio space for about half a second and then stopped. Andrew didn’t turn around when he said, “Busy. Go away.”

I felt a tightness in my throat and a little sense of frustration. How could he be telling me to just go away? Thinking that he must be kidding I walked to the front of the production desk and smiled my most innocent and brilliant smile. This was the smile I used when boyfriends were being difficult, when my library books were returned late and I was trying to avoid a fine, or the smile I used when all the seats were taken on the train and I was wearing heels and needed someone to give me their seat. “No one could resist this smile of mine,” I was thinking.

He didn’t even look up from his desk! Not to be deterred I boldly squared my shoulders and spoke again. “Andrew? It’s me, Alyce. We met at the start of the week? I’m the new girl.”

“Right.” Andrew barked gruffly. “Alyce. Come back later. I’m busy.”

But I wouldn’t give up. He didn’t scare me. I knew his type. I’m sure his rough exterior hid an inner landscape of unicorns and buttercups; he was probably a really nice guy under that steely facade.

“Um Andrew. I know that I’m new and I’ve just come back from a client meeting and I need some advice. Can you give me five minutes? Just five little minutes for the new girl?” I tapped my heel on the carpet and felt assured that no one could possibly refuse such a simple request.

That did it. Andrew looked up at me, drawing his head up ever-so-slowly as if emerging from underwater. With a huge sigh he crossed his arms firmly in front of his chest and stared at me with a dead look in his eye. “Three minutes,” he deadpanned.

Stuttering slightly, I began. “Great. Ha, ha. Thanks a lot. Um. OK. Well the thing is I just came back from a client meeting with Renee and the Local Council. Raylene helped me write a promotion and Renee thought that maybe I should check with you about some of the production requirements for the contesting mechanic.”

Nonplussed, Andrew barked, “Yep?”

I continued. “Right – so basically it’s very simple. We get two callers on air and they have to-“

“Nup.” Andrew cut me off mid-sentence.

“Sorry?” I questioned him, “What do you mean, ‘nup’?”

“Can’t do it mate. You’ll have to rewrite the promotion.” With that, Andrew uncrossed his arms and went back to his infernal mouse-clicking. A second later a roar of audio pulsed through the studio.

I started waving my hands maniacally over my face to get his attention back. I had to yell over the audio so he could hear me. “I don’t get it! Andrew! What do you mean?”

With a violent flick of his hand, he snapped a fader down bringing the studio into silence again. Looking up at me with uncontained malice, he crossed his arms in defiance and addressed me slowly, as if talking to someone with a severe learning disorder.

“Can’t put two callers on air in the studio at the same time mate. You’ll have to rewrite the promotion.”

I was dumbfounded. What did he mean ‘I couldn’t put two callers to air at the same time’? At Star FM you could put ten callers to air at once if you wanted to. The possibility of not having this function at Hitt FM hadn’t even crossed my mind.

“But but but,” I stuttered, “Raylene said I could!” Now I was sounding like a petulant child. I was half way between wanting to yell at him in anger and dissolve into tears.

Andrew addressed me vaguely as if I was a buzzing fly. “Raylene wouldn’t know. In the Rave studios, you can put two callers to air. You don’t have that function in the Hitt FM studio. Sorry. Goodbye.”

With that, Andrew turned back to his work and drowned out any further protests of mine with ear-crunchingly loud audio. I had no choice but to skulk away, my tail between my legs.

radio studio

Why Do Radio Stations have so Many Studios?

The reason most radio stations have three studios is that generally speaking, the on-air audio will get thrown from one studio to the other when the shift is changing, so that there is no gap on air. One announcer will be finishing off his show in studio one and the next announcer will be in studio two getting his/her show prep done; setting up the panel as they like, spreading out their papers and generally getting everything ready. When one announcer pushes play on the news theme, the on-air red light goes off in one studio and when the news is finished, it goes on in the next studio. The listeners can’t hear the difference. This studio set-up makes shift changes more seamless.

It also has the benefit of avoiding competitive struggles. If announcers have to take over from each other in the same studio, things can get hairy. Announcers usually have a certain way of doing things and can get really upset if someone likes the microphone high and the next announcer likes it lower. Plus, understandably, announcers really need to “get into the zone” before a shift, as every word they’re saying is being scrutinized. It’s hard to concentrate with someone else in your studio space, even if it is another professional, so having two studios is generally a priority.

The third studio is often used as an “off-air” studio. This is where interviews and other things are recorded, to be played back later. As well as this there is always a production booth or studio where all the ads and promos are made by the audio producer, and often a news studio too. Small community radio stations can get away with just one studio, but even the most basic stations tend to have at least one other, if not several.

Image by David Jones

Putting the Worst Swear Word to Air: My Dumb Delay Button Drama

Panelling involves coordinating everything to allow a show to go to air by operating the studio panel’s faders, mics, ads system, CDs, sound levels and switches. When you are a panel operator, it’s your job to make sure that the talk-breaks are kept to the designated length by giving the host/s the wind-up and countdown while also making sure the right songs are played and the news goes at the top of the hour by opening up the news feed line.

You also generally have to work with the show’s producer (if they have one) who is probably not in the on-air studio but sitting outside at a producer’s desk, taking and vetting the calls. Radio show callers are often called “Punters” by radio producers and hosts. Obviously not every punter who calls the hotline goes on air, so the producer’s job is to speak to everyone off air and get the best ‘talent’ to go on the show. Being not terribly good at buttons and switches and computer programs and broadcast equipment in general, I really have no idea why I so often ended up in the role of panel operator throughout my career. Often it’s purely for the fact that this role is often seen in radio as the most basic, talentless function of any station, and is often given to the casuals, the up-and-comers or the would-be announcers who are not talented enough to get their own shows. Being effectively a junior announcer at the station, I was shifted with a lot of panelling at 2ZQ.

In truth, panelling is a very difficult role, and one which takes a certain amount of skill, insider knowledge and training as well as the ability to think under pressure and deal with problems on the fly. These days there are countless courses and uni subjects that cover panelling, but back in my day I learned everything I knew on the job.

Most stations that put callers live to air (rather than pre-recording them and playing them back) use a function called “delay”. A seven-second delay means that what the audience is hearing is actually audio from seven seconds earlier; this prevents things going to air that shouldn’t such as swear words or profane or offensive comments which could jeopardise the station’s broadcasting license. The delay is built up during the announcer’s talk breaks by a machine that steals little bits of audio, building up to a seven-second advance of what is actually happening in real time. If the announcer (or panel operator) hears something going to air that shouldn’t they immediately “dump” the on-air feed and play a station sweeper or a song, and they switch back to real-time audio, effectively covering the mistake.

If the delay function is used correctly, the audience would hear (for example) a caller being cut off mid-sentence, then perhaps a sweeper saying something like “2ZQ – The Station that keeps you in the know!” followed by the announcer coming on and saying something like, “Oops we seem to have lost that caller! Now on to the next call… hello Dorris?” If it’s done right, the listener should be none the wiser that their ears aware about to be assaulted.

The problem was – I really wasn’t sure about how to correctly use delay.

I’m pretty sure that Phil would have shown it to me at some point, but I couldn’t actually get my head around it. It was one of those functions which you only expect to use once in a blue moon – particularly at 2ZQ where the show content was fairly G-rated, unlike some of the more prominent AM stations where shock jocks talked to angry listeners all day about contentious subjects and got them all riled up. I certainly never expected to need to use the delay button in the fishing show.

One Saturday we were taking random callers. The fishing show had not been given a producer to vet the calls, so we pretty much just took callers as they came, trying to speak to them quickly during the ad breaks and news updates to make sure they had something worthwhile to say. I can’t remember exactly what the segment topic was, but for some reason we put what sounded like a lovely old man to air. He sounded positively aged, with a hoarse and croaky voice, and a soft, gentlemanly manner. I’ll call him Albert, because I can’t remember his real name.

Back in the studio, Cameron the host says, “We’ve got a caller on the line… Hello, Albert?” Albert croaks a soft hello, probably saying something like how much he enjoys the show and how he listens every Saturday. Cameron continues, “So Albert, I’ve been told that you’d like to share a fishing joke with us on air today, is that right?” Albert agrees in the affirmative. For two excruciatingly long minutes (a veritable lifetime in radio), Albert proceeds to tell this incredibly long-winded but sweet sounding joke, about a father and son going fishing. The joke wanders along at a slow pace, but Albert is such a sweet-sounding old codger that we don’t dare interrupt him.

Finally we’re reaching what we’re hoping will be the punchline, which is lucky because the half-hour news was about to start. We were all getting ready to respond to Albert’s joke with heart-warming guffaws, and then award him a feel-good prize of a Shimano lure set or some other fishing-related prize. On and on the joke goes; Albert is doing the voices of the father and son in different pitches, putting in a considerable amount of effort with his joke telling. I’m giving Cameron the countdown, letting him know that we’re only a few seconds away from news time. Cameron is looking pensive, but still trying to listen attentively to the joke and to Albert, so we can get that feel-good radio moment.

Finally the punchline arrives. In a sweet voice, with soft tones, Albert is doing the voice of the ‘son’ in the joke. And here’s the punchline…

“… So the little boy throws it back and says to his Dad, ‘But you said fish smell just like Mum’s c***!’”

Horror. Pure horror!

Albert hung up straight away; obviously he’d been playing us for fools the whole time! Cameron looked at me. I looked at Cameron. His in-studio guest looked at me. I looked at the guest. I totally panicked! I knew that I was supposed to dump the caller, but how? My mind was racing at a million miles an hour and all the microphones in the studio were still live to air. In a flash I pressed a whole sequence of buttons, all out of order and all wrong and the general consequence was that the swear word, the worst swear word, went to air, crystal clear, during a family show!

I turned bright red and became very flustered. Cameron, like the simple man he was simply shrugged his shoulders, apologised to the listeners and moved on with the show, announcing that we’d be back after the news. What else could he have done?

Later in my radio career I would come to hate, absolutely hate jokes going to air. You can’t trust a punter, not even on a bloody fishing show.

 

Radio in the 90s: An Excerpt

radio announcerBack in the late 90s, we played all the music from actual CDs, now of course everything is programmed in by specialist computer programs. I was introduced to the announcer Aleesha and I instantly thought she was the coolest person I had ever met. I decided then and there that I wanted to be her; I wanted to know how to operate this radio panel.  Could I ever learn?

The radio panel is the desk that the announcers sit in front of. It is used to control all the audio that goes to air. There are many different set ups, but in general there are many sliding sound controls or ‘faders’. These sliding buttons manage the audio level for all the CDs, the announcers’ microphones, the ads, the newsroom and outside lines to take callers. At large studios there are also many faders for things like sound effects and music beds. One single talk-break can utilise up to 10 faders if the announcer is particularly ambitious, or taking many different calls. There is also typically a ‘delay’ button, used in emergency situations if something goes to air that shouldn’t, such as a swear word; but I would learn all about that much later in my career.

This radio panel was far simpler than that, basically containing 2 CD faders and 2 faders for the microphones in the studio. I still thought it looked enormously high-tech and baffling – I hate to admit it now, but my first thought when I saw Aleesha behind that panel was, “Wow – I didn’t know that chicks could do this too.” Female radio announcers have always been around, but in my naiveté I guess I had never really put much thought into the matter.

Mark explained to me that they actually needed someone for a news shift tomorrow, and without so much as a trial, I was given the slot of reading the news headlines and weather the next day during the breakfast show, as the regular newsreader was sick, or hung-over, or on holidays, or all three. With a year of acting classes under my belt and the general confidence of the youthfully stupid I rocked up the next day at 5am, copied lines out of the local newspaper (being 1999 the radio station did not have the internet) and came up with what I thought would make a good 2 minute news bulletin.

Everyone had been so welcoming and casual that I really didn’t feel that nervous, but of course the fear of making a huge mistake live on air was there. How many people hear you when you’re on the radio depends on two main things; number one, how strong the broadcast signal is and number two, how many people tune in. A large, commercial radio station would have a really strong transmitter, enabling people to hear the broadcast sometimes up to over 100 kilometres away. A small community radio station usually has such a small transmitter that it can only be heard in the surrounding suburbs, it all depends. I have no idea how many people would have heard my very first broadcast, but it probably wasn’t a lot! I took a deep breath and prepared myself the best I could… (to be continued)

 

Trading the Radio Mic for the Gavel

radio announcer 2Jason Khay’s Total Career Turnaround

Jason Khay had been working his dream job for over a decade, but the dream was no longer as fulfilling as it once was. Khay was a radio “all-rounder”; an announcer, panel operator and producer. It was a career that he really enjoyed, but he felt that new opportunities for him were fast drying up.

“In the beginning,” Khay says, “Radio was dynamic and always stimulating; I had to think very quickly on my feet.” He had clocked up hours at some of Sydney’s highest rating radio stations, including Sydney’s 2DayFM, Mix 106.5 and Nova 969, but after ten years in the industry it was getting harder and harder to find job opportunities that were going to ensure his future and allow him to stay in Sydney.

“Industries change.” Khay says, “The amount of work available for me was limited, and I felt that I wasn’t doing something that filled my full potential. I was in an industry that was unstable, and no matter how much work I put in, I felt that my career path was in other people’s hands.”

Khay is now an auctioneer with a boutique agency in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs, doing up to 10 auctions per week and, according to him, earning double the amount he did in radio. He feels that he’s finally found his niche and wants to let people know that a total career turnaround is not impossible, no matter how entrenched you might feel in your current situation, or how unsure you are about the direction you should head in.

Radio announcing is difficult to get into and despite the perception that it’s a glamorous industry the announcers you listen to are not often very highly paid. Wages are often on par with most white-collar office jobs unless you’re the big name act at your particular station. The supporting team members and casual staff are often earning less money than you may think.

“I put in many years in the radio industry, but I found myself feeling unrewarded both financially and personally, but for me it was a case of ‘better the devil you know’.” Khay says he feels that one of the hurdles to changing careers is finding something that will fulfil you, and making the decision to change.

“After 6 months of travelling and soul searching, I found that I didn’t want to do radio anymore, but I didn’t know what else to do. I was hoping it would just come to me.” Khay says that he even read new age books such as The Secret to help him find his dream career.

“I wanted to do something I was passionate about, but I wasn’t passionate about anything.”  The radio announcer finally wrote himself a list to help him to identify exactly what skills he had, and what he really enjoyed doing. He says that once he compiled this list his mind started to move in a new direction about how he might be able to transfer his announcing skills into a totally different industry.

“One day I was walking past a house that was being auctioned off and I went in to watch the sale. I thought, ‘Wow, I could do that.’” It was still months and months before Jason actually took the plunge. The hardest part was actually making the decision to do it. Once he had decided that, everything else fell into place, step by step.  “Once I decided that I wanted to become an auctioneer, it became something I wanted to do, rather than something I had to do, so it didn’t really feel like work.”

There were qualifications and studies he had to complete in order to become a fully accredited auctioneer. He had to attain his real estate license, and then his auctioneer’s license. He then found a mentor in the industry and worked for some time in a real estate office in the sales department, so he could get a feel for how things worked. He then went on to compete in the NSW Novice Auctioneers Competition, winning his division. This was the first step towards being noticed by important people in the industry.

“People don’t realise that we have so many skills that are attributable to industries that are completely foreign to what we were initially doing.” Jason says. “Once you’ve found a path, you’ll be surprised at how many of the things that you’ve learned along the way are actually very transferrable.”

So what does it take to be a good auctioneer? Jason says it’s all down to personality. “The job I get booked for takes 12 minutes, but there can be hours of preparation in the lead up to manage that 12 minute performance.” There are also variations in the volume of work, sometimes Khay has 2 auctions on a Saturday, and sometimes it’s up to 10.

“You need to be able to handle the pressure, auction after auction, “remembering that you are often dealing with someone’s largest asset and a process that may be foreign or confronting for the client. It’s also important to love speaking in front of people, and being able to manage everyone on the day, from the vendor to the bidders to the agents. “You need to be able to get people relaxed – you are the manager of everyone on the day.”

Khay is now earning up to $400 per auction, with part of that going directly to his agency. On a good week he can earn up to two thousand dollars, but some weeks are less busy.

“You never know what’s out there until you start looking and I’ve managed to find a career out of some skills that I gained doing something I thought I loved into something that I know I’m going to be doing for at least the next 20 years. I absolutely adore what I do now and the only thing I wish is that I’d found it sooner.”

Photo by Gerard’s World