We’re all familiar with the dream-versus-reality quandary. We think we’re going to change the world with that liberal arts degree until unemployment comes knocking pretty callously.
It takes tenacity to pursue what you love and turn your passion into a secure future, especially when job prospects aren’t exactly rolling through the door.
That’s what Michelle Loxton of Dubai Eye 103.8 did.
A performing arts major, Loxton found herself floundering for consistent employment after graduating from the Waterfront Theatre School in South Africa. This week, Loxton had a cosy sit down with us to tell us where she started and how she ended up in Radio.
For all you dreamers with arts degrees, this will be insightful:
I did theatre, drama and dance, but then I realised I wanted something where I could be creative but also have that 9 to 5. Because being in the performing arts industry, you get jobs [that are] mostly freelance. You may get a job today or a bigger job later in the month. [What] I wanted [was] security.
How did you land up in Radio?
Loxton began dabbling with radio on the side through volunteer work at a local station and start-up.
While her work wasn’t raking in millions – Loxton worked pro bono – her experience in the field steadily grew. It all paid off when an opportunity finally arose to work at a corporate station in Cape Town:
That’s how it started. So I worked there for a little bit and after that, I decided to move to Dubai. I contacted the only radio talk station there is in Dubai, which is Dubai Eye, to see if they’d be interested in me and they were.
She started out in production and upon her move to the UAE, Loxton immediately began branching out to mold herself into a versatile radio extrordinaire, by earning a diploma in journalism part-time while working at Dubai Eye. Soon, she was asked to report and present news on air. For each of you that thought your degrees were set in stone, here’s some personal advice from Loxton:
Always want to learn… Back in the day, in news, you had a whole team behind you: a producer, a person who would give you the questions, a camera crew, a recorder. Today, you do everything [yourself]. If you want that interview, you must give the interview, you must research it, record it yourself, you must film it yourself, you must do everything yourself. So, learn.
What’s your typical day like?
Coming to the station, Loxton tells us how her day progresses as a reporter with a morning shift. She has to be at work at 4am when she’s reading news in the morning, otherwise it starts off with press conferences. On the day, she told us:
Today, I’ll be heading off to an RTA press conference… I will stalk people for interviews and soundbites and get quality audio. I’ll take it back to our newsroom and sit for a prospects meeting, where everyone sits together and says what our prospects for the day [are], what we are going to put in the news. From there, we produce the news and [then it] goes on air and online.
What do you like the most about your work?
Loxton loves her job, and says that the most exciting aspect of it is one that she never lost moving from performing arts to broadcast journalism. She equates reading the news to a performance with journalistic thought and enjoys the variety of pieces she can do: travel, interviews and more:
“I’ve done a piece where I tried to find out about accessibility in Dubai so I went around in a wheelchair. [I ask myself,] how can I do this in an exciting way where it’s not just a sit-down interview?”
What are the most important skills you need to exceed in Journalism and why?
1. Loxton emphasizes the importance of experience, saying it shows passion “whether it’s working for free or doing a blog.”
2. Humility plays a big role. She says “A lot of people phone us in the newsroom and say ‘hi, my name is _____ and I’d like to be a presenter.’ What they don’t realize is that these people who are presenters have been working for years and years and years to get to that position. So realize that you have to work from the very bottom and probably knock on the door for a very long time just to get your foot [in.]”
3. She reminds us that “love of the work over the love of the salary” is crucial, since being rich and famous doesn’t happen overnight.
Did you enjoy this workspective piece? Tell us in the comments below what profession in Dubai you’d like to see next.