Currently one half of Gem 106’s successful ‘Sam and Amy’ breakfast show, I sat down with Amy and talked to her about her journey up through the ranks of the radio industry and the skills she has developed along the way. I’ve interviewed numerous celebrities and entrepreneurs worldwide, but there is something about Amy’s extensive portfolio that makes me nervous to reverse the roles and place her in the hot seat. With interviews with the likes of Gary Barlow, Dawn French, Elijah Wood and – the Godfather of the talk show – Michael Parkinson under her belt, Amy is certainly a radio and TV talent to be reckoned with.
You’ve come so far in the past 10 years in such a competitive industry, but when would you say your passion for radio began?
I had a love for radio from a young age. When I was a kid I would sit in my room and record shows on my tape desk before then trying to make my own. When I was at school I was always a bit of an extrovert – I loved dance, drama and any kind of performance, and so I knew from then on that I wanted to work in TV and radio. The first step I took towards working in the media industry was in applying for work experience at my local radio station. I did it earlier than everyone else just to give myself that little bit of an edge, and so when I got a placement I was really happy. That was it – after that week I realised that this was exactly what I wanted to do. It was the best job in the world and I loved it! After I left school I responded to an advert for promotional staff and did that for a year, constantly pestering everyone I could find to let me on air. Eventually my perseverance paid off and I was asked to cover a traffic and travel shift, and that was how it all began! After that I got a job as a full-time travel reporter and worked my way up until I became a presenter. I still can’t believe that I get paid to do something that I love and am so fascinated by!
You were recently awarded with the Sony Gold Award for ‘Best Breakfast Show’ in the UK. It’s such a huge achievement, what does it mean to you to win something like that?
For us it was completely amazing and a massive shock! In the lead up to winning the award we put in so much hard work, and our success just shows how important it is to stick with something and persevere if you truly believe in it. At one point, being nominated for a Sony was all I wanted to achieve, but to win one – and to win Gold – was truly humbling. It inspired us to want to achieve even more, and the recognition certainly gave us all a huge confidence boost.
Throughout your career you’ve built up a huge portfolio of celebrity interviews. How important would you say attention to detail is in your role as interviewer sat opposite these hugely successful guests?
The most important aspect of conducting a successful and interesting interview would definitely be detailed preparation. If you come to the interview knowing absolutely everything about that person, and show an obvious and genuine interest in their work, they’ll naturally open up to you and want to talk about it. Passion and enthusiasm are so important in this line of work – no one will want to discuss their life and work with someone who appears not to be bothered. Do your research, find out all about them, and a conversational, interesting interview should just flow. We recently had Channing Tatum and Jamie Foxx on the show, and were originally told we had 10 minutes with them. About 5 minutes before we were going to be on air we were told that actually, no, we had about 3 minutes to interview them between songs. It was a nightmare! But we quickly edited our questions down, and it worked. There wasn’t much time to build a rapport with them or make them feel at ease, but we dealt with the situation at hand and worked with the timings we were given. Radio is all about working to strict deadlines and operating within a tight time frame, so you have to be able to adapt to new situations at the drop of a hat! Dealing with potentially difficult scenarios on air and in front of thousands of people is something that can only come with experience and a vast knowledge of the industry.
What advice would you offer to someone who is looking to pursue a career in the world of radio?
It is really important in this field of work to be confident in your own ability to handle a situation and rely on your own expertise in making quick decisions. All these things come with experience, but keeping a level-head and delivering your content with passion, focus and enthusiasm is something that all radio and TV presenters need to be able to do from the very beginning of their career. The media industry requires extremely high levels of energy and motivation. However, the rewards are so memorable and will always stay with you, so it is very much worth the effort.
Your life hasn’t always been plain sailing, and you’ve had to deal with some very tough, harrowing situations, like losing your father and having to talk about it on air. How have you managed to be so successful despite this?
I see my job as a form of escapism, as somewhere I can come and work hard and enjoy myself. I have a great team, and have the same work ethic as my dad did, the very British idea of keeping a stiff upper lip and just cracking on with it. I find that throwing myself into my work really helps to take my mind off any external problems which should be dealt with separately. It’s all about compartmentalising, filing away problems and dealing with them at a time when it is possible to do so without effecting your work. I’m lucky in that I love my job and that I can come into work and just forget about the things that are worrying me elsewhere.
In particular, many women follow your progress and see you as someone who works extremely hard in order to succeed. Your career is constantly growing as you try out new things. What tips would you give to other women in business who may be struggling?
For anyone struggling at the moment, I would say keep going! The Sony award was something that we worked for 7 years to win. We certainly didn’t start out as a brilliant show! We worked hard and progressed over the years, developing our presenting skills and evaluating the aspects of the show that could be improved. It didn’t take long before I began getting better at my job without even realising it. The key to success lies in the ability to look at your own performance and decide on what to address and work upon in order to get bigger and better.
You have a massive following, comprised of not just those who listen to your radio show, but a whole host of women in business. Last year you spoke at Vision’s Celebrity Women in Business day. Why did you choose to speak at the event?
The Women in Business event was my first time working as a motivational speaker. I felt inspired by all these women who were setting up businesses on their own. In my industry, as much as women have progressed, it is still a workplace that is very much dominated by men, like many others. As professionals, women are still working hard to be recognised as equals. For me to be able to tell these women of my own experience and the struggles I’ve come up against was extremely refreshing, and I did it with the hope that my experiences would help others on their own journey to success.
With a tireless work ethic and brilliant sense of humour, Amy Voce is surprisingly modest and reserved when it comes to boasting her own success. With over a decade of experience and accumulated knowledge of the media industry, her message to others is that of perseverance and determination. However tough it may get, never give up on your end goal, and always maintain and nurture faith in your own ability to succeed. For Amy, success comes from being passionate about something you love, whilst fighting against any negativity within yourself. Achieving what you want can only be done once you recognise the value in your own skills and abilities, and understand that your own story may be your very best marketing asset.