With confidence, charm and a cheeky smile, afternoon presenter Kelly Higgins-Devine walks onto the ABC Radio Brisbane balcony.
The mother of one says her first encounter with the journalism world was when she was working in theatre for dinner fundraisers in Bendigo. “It was almost an accident in many respects, becoming a journalist,” laughs Kelly. Her role was to greet guests and give them a hard time, which she did with enthusiasm when a group from her local radio station came in.
The guy who was the manager there said to me, ‘you should be on radio’
At the time, Kelly had dabbled in a few different career paths and liked the idea of exploring her future in the media. “It was the first time I had ever thought about it and the idea stuck,” says Kelly. She began a commercial radio training course at the Swinburne University of Technology before her first radio position with 4VL in Charleville in South West Queensland. “I still remember the plane flight; we were coming over Charleville and I looked out of the plane window and I had some bloke next to me, and I said, ‘is that it’?” quips Kelly. “I nearly didn’t get off the plane; it was really intimidating,” she continues.
When she finally stepped off the plane and arrived in Charleville, Kelly says she “had a blast of a time”. She jokes about being ‘the city girl’ and while her family were incredibly supportive, they were a little worried about her. “I think they were a bit concerned that there was this city girl heading to regional Queensland and how was I going to cope with that,” muses Kelly. After two and a half months in Charleville, she was offered a position in a Cairns newsroom. A man she was working with at the time noticed her writing was good and that she was asking good questions, so he said he would teach her everything she needed to know to become a journalist in six months. When she quickly mastered this, another mentor told Kelly her skills were wasted in the newsroom and that she needed to be on air. She became a 4CA nighttime presenter.
Kelly says her family were excited by her swift progress in the media industry. “I think they were hoping that this would be the thing, that I would find a niche,” she says. With an air of buoyancy about her, Kelly now says she cannot imagine ever working in another industry. She says that she would, however, enjoy a career in researching, because she could ask so many questions. “In my perfect world outside of radio, there would just be a job where I could go into research laboratories … and keep asking them questions and teasing out ‘what if’,” she smiles. “Otherwise maybe teaching. I think I would have loved to be an English teacher,” says Kelly.
Kelly is currently ABC Brisbane’s afternoon presenter and you can hear her show on weekdays from 1pm to 3pm on 612 AM.
Words by Kayla Millhouse | Image by Stayc Connolly