Career Capsule: Lucy Holmes is one of Australia’s hardest working performers and most versatile media personalities. Coming from a musical background and a degree in Music Theatre, Lucy has worked as a television host, Radio host, professional singer, actress, recording artist, voiceover artist, MC and model. However, she is most proud of her radio work and has been heard on 89.9TheLight in Melbourne over the last 13 years every morning as part of the award winning Lucy and Kel breakfast show. 89.9LightFM has an audience of over one million listeners, and Lucy and Kel’s breakfast show recently won the coveted CMAA ‘Most Engaging Radio Show’ of the year, two years running.
Lucy, tell us what’s new at The Light … news, changes, & whats new with YOU… etc?
89.9TheLight recently underwent a brand change, as we used to be called 89.9 LightFM. Our name, logo, and colours were all updated and are now a vibrant palette of beautiful colours that really pop and speak to our audience. I’ve been the station as breakfast host for the last 13 years, so it’s been wonderful to witness the evolution, look and feel of TheLight.
How have you been affected by the pandemic, on and off the air?
Lockdown in Melbourne, Australia was pretty intense. We went through SIX lockdowns over the last 18 months, the longest being well over 112 days straight. We have now been in lockdown for 200 days. For a period of time, we broadcast from home with amazing portable setups, but we eventually ended up back in the studio, whilst all our colleagues worked from home. The breakfast show was alone in the building for about a year. It was so surreal and bizarre to be here, just the three of us, in a huge empty station that normally has about 40 staff. Our station descriptor and brand promise is ‘Always Positive and Uplifting’, and it was a real honour to be that voice of positivity to our listeners during the last 18 months of lockdowns.
What is the best show advice you’ve been given? The worst?
The best advice I was ever given, was from an incredible radio brain here in Australia called Dan Bradley, who mentored me for years. He told me not to be ‘beige’. He encouraged me to stop trying to be the host everyone just ‘liked’. People who are beige are forgettable. He challenged me to be a strong, outspoken woman on air, unafraid to voice my opinions. He said people won’t forget you then. And instead of just liking you, they LOVE you and become your champions. Sure, you’ll get the haters, but it’s the way to leave a legacy on air. I took that to heart and being brave and vulnerable on air is now one of the radio traits I am now most proud of.
The other best advice I ever heard was from another famous aussie radio heavyweight, who actually is my mentor now, Craig Bruce. I was reading an amazing autobiography from an Aussie TV and radio star called Osher Gunsberg, and he wrote about a conversation he had with Craig, that always stuck with me. Craig told Osher, if you sit behind that microphone and don’t get a thrill that you’re about to broadcast, then it’s time to move on. I think that’s important. Never rest on your laurels. Never ‘phone it in’ (that might be an aussie term, but it means don’t be lazy). If the thrill is gone, the listeners will hear it. It’s such an honour to sit behind that mike, so I try and never take it for granted. Even after all these years.
What are the biggest challenges working with a co-host, and advantages?
I am very blessed to have worked with some incredible men over the years. My co-host now, Kel McWilliam, has been at the station with me for 13 years, and we’ve done our Breakfast show together for 8 years. He is the absolute rock of our show. He has worked in radio for decades on Commercial stations, and his wealth of radio knowledge is extraordinary. I often listen to him and wonder why he isn’t a famous celebrity or comedian by now, because he is that brilliant. We have a great working relationship, which can be rare in duos, infact, in 13 years we have never ever had an argument or an issue. We respect each other completely. As a duo, we decided from day one of working together to never be precious or protective of our ideas. Our show mission statement is that we are a show FOR the listener, with the listener. We always looks outwards, the show shouldn’t be self indulgent at other people’s expense. We open the phone lines constantly, and aim to the make the listener, and their story, the star. Our listeners feel like a giant family, and we STILL skip into work in the morning excited to be there.
Whats your feeling on podcasts, should air personalities have one?
I love a good poddy! Look, it’s the way of the world, so yes, I think it’s a natural progression for a radio host. But the key is to make sure you’re creating something people WANT to listen to. It’s so easy to believe the hype of your own ego, and be too self indulgent. I worked on a few demos with friends and realised that it has to be something pretty special to cut through. I’m currently in the planning stages of a long form chat show style podcast, that I’m looking forward to launching soon.
Where will new up and coming air talent for Christian Radio come from?
That’s a great question, this is a tough one. Especially in Australia. The radio industry is a small, niche group. I think they key is to keep being really inclusive to those who show some solid talent. Get them in, get them connected, get them working on demos, volunteering… whatever it takes. Get them excited about radio, and then you can mentor and train them up into the next generation. I think with the advent of Podcasts, there’s a new group of younger people who understand audio performance and connection.
Generally speaking whats the biggest differences you know between Australian Christian Radio and that in the US?
There is a HUGE difference between US stations and Aussie Christian stations that you may not be aware of. In Australia, the majority of Christian stations are mixed format. That means we play a mix of current popular hits, perhaps the latest Ed Sheeran, Justin Bieber or Beyonce, and then the Christian hits like Danny Gokey, For King and Country and Mercy Me. We do this as an outreach. We are reaching people and a demographic who may not know God. They flick on, hear their favourite U2 song, and they a track later might hear something like “Haven’t Seen It Yet” by Danny Gokey – which we know can be a transformational moment. We hope to take the listeners on a journey and become their family, and their safe place. It’s a very specific mission, and one that I absolutely LOVE. We love believers, but our heart and our mission is to see “Every Light Alive with the love of Jesus”, which is why our format is set up like this. A lady once angrily said to me, “why don’t you just play Christian music for Christians?” And I replied, “well, you know where you are going when you die. I’m interested in people who are struggling and haven’t yet experienced the peace that God brings. That’s who I am going after. That is what excites me. People who are hungry for hope.” We actually do a full time Christian Music Digital station, called TheLightMix too for those who want that. But my passion is being a real woman, on a real station, and providing hope and positivity for real people struggling in a world that is increasingly feeling darker every day. Being the brekky host for the last 13 years has been the greatest honour of my life. I feel so incredibly blessed and grateful to sit behind that microphone, and am often humbled that somehow God put me here.
8. Who are your radio heroes and influences? and why?
I truly admire many of the female radio announcers in Australia who have had long radio careers. Incredible women like Fifi Box, Dee Dee Dunleavy, Virginia Trioli, and Amanda Keller, all who have stood the test of time and worked for decades in radio. I think that’s incredible, and so inspiring. However, I’m also inspired by some amazing authors, speakers and podcasters. People like Brene Brown, Glennon Doyle, and Rachel Held Evans. All these women are incredible communicators, writers and thinkers.