Ben & Liam On Winning Over Listeners As New Kids On The Block & The Significance Of Triple J’s One Night StandWritten by Zanda Wilson on April 21, 2017
Ben Harvey and Liam Stapleton replaced Matt Okine and Alex Dyson for triple j’s breakfast program at the beginning of 2017, marking the first time that Dyson’s voice would not be heard between 6am and 9am on the show in seven years. It’s was a new radio era for triple j listeners, with these two lads from Adelaide now soundtracking their morning activities and work commutes.
Experienced heads at Fresh 92.7 in Adelaide, Ben and Liam were under no illusions about how challenging the transition would be, but the lads are remaining positive about the year ahead, and with triple j’s One Night Stand taking place tomorrow in Mount Isa, they’ll be using the massive free event to propel themselves forward into the remainder of 2017.
We caught up with the guys this week, just before they headed off for sunny Mount Isa.
Music Feeds: How does it feel to be on the other side of an interview for once?
Ben & Liam: Good yeah, just sitting back, don’t really know where it’s going to go. That’s the fun of an interview, letting it be taken to a place where you don’t expect or know where it’s going to end up. I’m excited to see what kind of prep you’ve done, and if you haven’t prepped thoroughly we will pull you up on it.
MF: Having started with triple j this year, how’s it been suddenly having to interview heaps of huge names in music?
Liam: Up until three months ago the biggest name we’d done was O’Shea Jackson Jnr, so close to fame, and it was a great interview. We enjoyed that a lot but that was game day for us, we were ready, three years to that point. But now the calibre of the artists that you’re interviewing non-stop is pretty crazy, and that’s definitely something we’ve had to improve on, how to conduct interviews properly.
Ben: It definitely becomes the norm though, pretty quick. When you’ve got the likes of Zan Rowe and Veronica & Lewis, and even Gen (Fricker) around the place, who are so good at interviewing the musicians and other people we get in the studio. You learn from them and have conversations with them about what they do and how they do it. We’ve got some pretty amazing people around us to learn from.
MF: Aside from that, what have been some the hardest challenges of transitioning into the role?
L: I think the hardest thing is being new kids on the block to an audience so large. You don’t really realise how big the audience is and you’re in the middle of it like “oh god”.
B: I always use the expression “you could fart with the mics on and still get 100 texts”. It’s nuts how many people want to get involved all of the time.
L: Turning or attempting to turn an audience who have become so used to certain presenters for so long, that’s definitely the challenge. We know we’ll get there.
MF: What’s it been like coping with some of the negativity and harsh feedback from listeners at the beginning of it all?
B: It was to be expected, we started knowing it was going to be like that. I think you’ve got to earn it; you can’t just have it given to you. I’d have been worried if we did just win everyone over on the first day. I like the fact that we’ve got to prove to everyone that we can do it, and I think you have to earn it.
L: Yeah, and you learn to put things in perspective, I mean everyone cops it a bit. When we first started at Fresh in Adelaide we copped a bit but because the audience was so small we were able to win over the people and the people who want to listen can do so. But because people have such a cultural thing with triple j, they’ve been listening for years, when someone says ‘I’ve been listening for 35 years and you’re by far the shittest presenters’ [but then, their] age is already out of the demographic by nearly 10 years. So you can’t really buy into that stuff too much.
B: There are more good people than shit people out there, so you just keep plodding along and doing what you think is good. You listen to the people around you at the station, who know more about radio than the average Joe Blow on a bobcat in wherever, who’s tearing into every presenter he can.
L: You can’t take everyone’s word for gospel.
MF: Good Az Friday went off last week; your biggest live-to-air on stage radio show on triple j. How did you find it?
B: Yeah that was lovely, the crowd were great to perform to. Even the text line was lovely on the day. It was pretty long, going for three hours, and when you’re not on air you’ve still got to be talking to the crowd off air and entertain them. It’s probably the busiest three hours of radio I’ve ever done but it was also the most satisfying.
L: That’s definitely one of the classic examples, you see people ripping into presenters and comedians on Facebook or online but at these sorts of events everyone there is there to have fun, and the whole vibe there was great. We didn’t know how it would all be received, but everyone had fun. To stick around for three hours, it’s a long time to commit to something. During songs, we had to make small talk with everyone in the room but we felt pretty comfortable the whole time, everyone was great.
MF: This will be your first year getting involved with triple j’s One Night Stand. What do you think has made it such a successful event over the years?
L: It pretty much just embodies what triple j’s all about; bringing music to those regional areas. Ben and I have never been to one but we’ve seen them happen from the outside and watched the, and it’s pretty amazing what it can do for those towns.
B: People talk a lot about how triple j is a lifeline from the outside world to smaller towns, and the stories they’re hearing. So it really champions one of the small towns.
MF: Ben you grew up in a semi-rural part of South Australia. For you, with your experience growing up, what does this sort of event mean for people in these rural places?
B: Well the biggest thing we had growing up was the Blue Light Disco. But personally, I was never exposed to the live music scene until I was much older and was working in the city of Adelaide, and started to see those live bands. It’s one of those things where you don’t even know you like it until you get to see it. So that’s why it’s so amazing to bring something like One Night Stand to a place like Mt. Isa.
MF: What will you be getting up to on the day itself?
L: Well hopefully we can get Ben into his Blue Light Disco outfit. The whole thing is broadcast so we’ll be hanging out at Mt Isa all day; I think we’re going mining.
B: I don’t think we’ll be actually working, but we’re going to be shown around one of the mines.
L: And a few interviews with some of the artists, a bit of behind the scenes action.
B: There’s going to be a bit old bar n’ grill there too, we’re really looking forward to it.