Shout Eastside Shout: Melanie Christodoulou
Approx. 6 minute 30 second read
Melanie Christodoulou has been making the Eastside airwaves sing for almost a decade. Making her start in community radio as a bright-eyed and eager youngster in the midst of wrapping up her high school days, Mel has made an outstanding contribution to the station by serving as the Music Director, volunteer, trainer and presenter of Take One (on every Friday afternoon). She was the recipient of the Eastside Radio Marge Barry Award back in 2018. Let’s get to know this accomplished young woman in media and music a little better.
Sonia de Freitas: Hi Mel, How are you and where does our interview find you today?
Melanie Christodoulou: Hi Sonia! I’m doing well in week one of lockdown in Sydney.
SdF: How did you land your first media gig?
MC: I dipped my toe into media right here at Eastside Radio. I remember I was listening on the way to school and heard that the station was looking for volunteers. I was just finishing up year 12 at the time and I knew I wanted a career in media. Where exactly I wasn’t sure, but I thought this was the perfect chance to try out one facet. I started on the front desk.
SdF: Can you tell me about your journey in music and/or media? When did you know that you were going to make it your career?
MC: Music has always been a part of my life. I sang from an early age in school choirs, tried to learn the piano (emphasis on tried) and did school holiday music workshops. When I got into high school I was part of a number of bands as well as taking singing solo a little more seriously. High school was where I also started taking jazz more seriously too. I had the chance to be taught under one of Australia’s premier jazz and experimental artists, Adrian Lim-Klumpes. It was a steep learning curve but my love for the genre continues. The media side of it developed through uni and thinking about what I wanted to do as a career. Whilst I was studying I also did an internship with Universal Music in their promotions department. Since then, I continue to sing, co-host my radio show on Eastside Radio called Take One, and I have a corporate role at SBS as a Sales Executive. To say I know exactly what I want to do with my career would be a bit of a stretch. I know that I want to be in the media, somehow related to audio and supporting the music industry would be a dream. What I like about my experience to date is that I’ve got an understanding of both the corporate and content side of audio with my work at Eastside as a presenter and formerly the Music Director, to now also being at SBS working to support its multilingual media offering.
SdF: Why do you volunteer at Eastside Radio?
MC: I volunteer at Eastside because it gives me the chance to support the genres and artists that I love and yet don’t get the support they deserve more broadly. I do love radio and other audio formats in general, but it’s always been a missed opportunity in my eyes that commercial radio tends to sound the same these days. We have such talent in Aus from hosts to musicians, such diversity in our listenership and yet it’s not reflected much on radio through the majors. The enduring nature of community radio and the rise of podcasting and streaming I think is a reflection of audiences wanting something more.
SdF: Have you experienced particular professional challenges due to your gender? How did you overcome these challenges and what do you think needs to change to avoid these challenges in the future?
MC: Something I’ll always be grateful for is that at 18 years old, Eastside Radio not only offered me the chance to have my own radio show but to also be the Music Director for the station. It was such a huge leg up for me at the time and has led to some of my most fond memories in media to date. To give a young woman that responsibility is almost unheard of and it has been invaluable to me. Since having those roles and now also working in the corporate space, new challenges include change management and developing relationships with superiors. My more recent experience has exposed me to a wide variety of levels of management, personalities and circumstances, most of which have been rewarding but of course, nothing is always simple. When things do get tough, one of the thoughts that comes up regularly is the need to please people. This is something that I do think all genders feel but women do to a larger extent. I’m in the unique position of having 6 out 7 corporate female team members, including my senior leader which has rewarded me with many great learnings when it comes to female leadership. I’ve always found that reaching out and speaking to others about issues to be very useful. I make an effort to talk with colleagues from across the business to understand their work so that I can be better at my job. I always find learning through experience so much more useful than anything a book has ever said. It has also led to me being recommended for opportunities I was unaware of by those colleagues. Mentorship programs, be it formal or informal, I feel are incredibly valuable. The learnings go both ways. As a person early on in her career, I feel there is so much to learn from my peers of all diversities. I also know that those that I have those kinds of relationships with do also find my perspective insightful. If you don’t see those opportunities already set up around you, make it happen. You won’t regret it.
SdF: What advice would you give your younger self?
MC: Put yourself out there! I know that I have to an extent done this in my early years, but I would still tell my younger self to do this more. There are still things that I think I could have done and yet didn’t. I would tell myself to listen to that inner voice telling you to find your own opportunities more, rather than temper yourself with the need to people please. Don’t be as cautious about creating your own opportunities in preference for more conventional channels that don’t necessarily work for you. I would also tell myself to start early on your financial education. School isn’t going to teach you this and yet it’s a life skill.
SdF: Tell me about a place to find creative inspiration.
MC: There are three main ways I get my inspiration for most things:
1. I think it’s important to surround yourself with good influences. I continue to learn so much from close friends, family and colleagues. They are invaluable!
2. The second place I look to for advice would be podcasts. I’ve learnt so much from productions like Game Changers Radio, Questlove Supreme, Ladies We Need To Talk, Wilosophy with Wil Anderson, Broken Record, Making: Oprah and more. If there is something you’re interested in and want to know more, I pretty much guarantee you that there’s a podcast out there talking about it.
3. Music! It’s very much a part of my life and it inspires me not just as a musician but in all aspects of my life. It’s such a fertile resource.
To learn more about Melanie Christodoulou and Take One visit: eastsidefm.org/takeone
To connect with Melanie Christodoulou go to: linkedin.com/melaniechristodoulou
Keep an eye out for my next interview in the Shout Eastside Shout series where I interview Ruth Hessey.
Did you miss the previous Shout Eastside Shout instalment? Read about Claudia Chan Shaw here.