Oliva Jones is a radio presenter for The Hits Radio, as well as running Knowledge is Power podcast. Safe to say she loves keeping herself busy!
How did you kickstart your radio career?
I did student radio at the University of Surrey. It surrounded me with likeminded people who wanted to make an impression and be creative. It lead me to enter ‘The Hits Radio Student Star’ which I won and started the relationship with the station I currently work at.
Was your radio journey tougher than you expected it to be?
It’s actually tougher now than it was getting into the industry. I think when you know what you’re fighting for, it’s easy. I was fighting for a job and that’s what I got. When you’re in a job and you’re just fighting to improve your technique, it’s a lot harder because a lot of it is opinion. If you listen to too many people’s opinion you start doubting your own but my opinion of what I’m doing and how I sound is the most important one. (don’t tell my boss)
Who has been your favourite celebrity to interview?
Dua Lipa, hands down. She laughs at all my jokes and that’s my only aim in my career is to make people feel comfortable. If you can find someone who genuinely stops breathing for a bit when you tell them they should have their own reality TV show called ‘Dua Lipa Faith’ where she get’s celebrities to jump off high buildings, then you know you’re in good company.
Has anyone left you starstruck?
No, I get nervous interviewing anyone but it’s always because I want to do the fanbase proud. When speaking to Louis Tomlinson and Niall Horan I was so ill the few days before but it’s because I knew the fandom were so desperate, unlike any other fandom, to get close to these guys and that’s what my job is. Wait, I just remembered when I interviewed S Club 7, all of them. That was definitely a moment. I used to write about them in my creative stories at school in year 4. At one point Jo turned to John and said ‘she’s funny isn’t she?’ and it was the best moment of my career so far.
Was anyone not what you expected them to be?
Ariana was tough work. Somebody who interviewed her just before me had asked a question she didn’t like and it put her in a bad place. In walks Awkward McLanky over here and I was just shaking the whole time. I didn’t feel like we were in it together.
What advice do you have for aspiring radio presenters?
Keep going. You will have to knock on so many doors before one opens. Everyone wants to hang out with celebrities and go to gigs but you’ve got to put your head down and do all the crappy stuff before you get the perks. You might have to work a job on the side to fund your work experience. You might have to sit in a studio on a lonely Sunday making sure the station doesn’t go off air. All these things teach you the skills you’ll need once you’re in the industry. Oh and also, nobody owes you anything. Just because you have a degree or a passion or love the station you’re listening to doesn’t mean somebody should give you their time. Someone sends me an email ‘Can I come and sit in on your show?’ at least once a week. I’m in the studio running my show by myself so it’s not really worth my time having someone sit in and distract me BUT if you were to ask to come in before the show or meet me for a coffee, I am way more likely to give you my time and I bet that’s true of a lot of people.
What are the key skills you need for working in radio?
Patience, persistence, resilience. Patience to wait for a door to open. Persistence to keep knocking on those doors and resilience when someone slams the door in your face. Don’t forget how many times Harry Potter got turned down. Oh and reliable.
Is social media one of the biggest outlets for getting your show out there?
It’s a great way to penetrate people’s consciousness i.e. ‘Ed Sheeran’s on my show this week’ but social media is about people who are 100% engaged because they are looking at the screen and probably giving you their full attention. Whereas radio is about the passive listener. As Terry Wogan said ‘We’re not talking to an audience. You’re talking to one person and they’re only half-listening. It’s a mistake to think that everybody’s clinging to your every word.” So you can’t do the same type of content on both, you can do the same story but in a completely different style.
Do you believe the radio industry will die out?
No but we probably will turn everything digital and have access to streaming services in all our cars. Which means we will get more accurate readings of how many people are listening and this might be tougher for heritage brands. It will be more of a democratic consumption like Youtube. We are hard wired to prefer the sound of human voices over any other noise so I don’t think we will be replaced entirely by personalised music playlists.
What is your podcast about?
It started out as a way of putting my improv skills together with my radio skills and an attempt to improve my story telling. Then I used it as a tool to reach out to create a relationship with fandoms. Now it chops and changes as an outlet for creative experiments. I feel a bit like it’s a very public work in progress!
What is your greatest accomplishment?
Hosting a national drive time radio show. I think people very often underestimate the radio station I work for and that’s fine but talking to roughly 220,000 adults a week is pretty cool and we’re a very young station, so it’s cool to be doing well in a market that nobody seems to understand.
What song is your current favourite?
The song that I play every day is Hailee Steinfeld ‘Love Myself’. P.S. I love Justin Bieber.