BEING ON THE AIR…
Now another year has begun and we are flooded again with too much information, which sometimes comforts us and another time makes us feel anxious and reminds us of our deeply hidden fears. This excess of information has become our everyday life, something that we absorb and breathe in everyday, that’s why we stop responding adequately to different types of stimuli we are exposed to.
One should also remember that not all sources of information are relevant and not all content creators are driven by professional ethics. However, one shouldn’t also forget about passionate people who love their profession and who drunk journalism and the need of reaching the core of truth with their mother’s milk.
These people who try to provide their readers and listeners with valuable content always try to improve themselves and desire to hone their skills to convey the type of information which will be relevant not only for their target audience, but also for everyone who will happen to read or listen to what they have prepared for them.
I’m truly pleased to introduce you to my today’s interviewee – Rachael Bouley-Djorgonoski – a journalist who accompanied by her friend decided to create her own space on the Internet and to set up her own blog and podcast, thanks to which she could follow her beloved passion, which doubles with her current work.
Passion Piece: Could you tell my readers a few words about yourself?
Rachael: I’m Rachael – a 26-year-old loud and proud Minnesotan who loves writing, talking, dogs, and chocolate (in no particular order!)
The most important things in my life are my family, my fiancé, and my friends. I love my job and traveling too, and I try to maintain a positive outlook and count my blessings even with the ups and downs.
Passion Piece: You’re an American girl who decided to move to another continent. What made you choose Australia?
Rachael: Long story short – love! I was lucky enough to study abroad in Australia from January – April 2016, and it was absolutely amazing. I had been obsessed with Australia since I had a crush on singer Cody Simpson when I was 12 lol. I met an Aussie baseball player (two of my favorite things!) and we kept in touch and eventually started dating. I didn’t think he was my future husband when we first met but when I returned to Australia to visit, I knew.
After long distance for awhile I came out to Australia in September 2017 to spend a few months with Nick and do some work. It’s hard to go from long distance to living together back to long distance, so I started going back and forth and have been doing it ever since. I love Australia, it’s a truly beautiful country but Minnesota will always be home. I’m excited to move back to MN and raise a family, although we will always go back and forth – the best of both worlds!
Passion Piece: Is there anything you were surprised with at the beginning of your stay?
Rachael: When I first got to Australia, I was surprised how much it felt like home. It wasn’t quite as different as I imagined it to be – I didn’t really have culture shock, but maybe it’s because I was too busy having fun! I first came to Australia to study abroad and was surprised by the fast food restaurants – there was McDonald’s (nicknamed Maccas), Subway, and KFC on almost every corner in the city! If I ever needed some comfort French fries, I could go right to Maccas which is what my friends and I did a lot after adventuring and exploring. French fries are called chips in Australia though!
I absolutely love seeing different places and cities and I find something to love about every place I’m in, whether it’s small-town Minnesota or big-city Australia. I loved how safe Sydney felt and how close the city was to the beach. I will never forget seeing the world-famous Bondi Beach for the first time and watching the beautiful blue waves crash against the coastal cliffs. I also appreciated the work-life balance in Australia as things seemed a little more laidback, like people took more time out of their days to go to the beach or spend time with family. The lunch breaks were longer, that’s for sure! I remember one of my first days at my internship, they asked me to go to lunch and we were gone for almost two hours! It was very different from my fast-paced 10-15 minute lunch breaks at the grocery store or office where I worked in the U.S.
Passion Piece: You’re a journalist. How does American journalism differ from the one in Australia?
Rachael: At the end of the day, I think the core principles and standards journalists hold themselves to are the same in America and Australia. It’s about ethics, objectivity, storytelling, communication, timeliness, seeking the truth…the list goes on and on. The niches would be similar too, whether you’re in breaking news or finances, sports or lifestyle, etc. I think the main differences would be the sports coverage, as it seems a little more laidback and personal over here with Australian Rules Football. Reporters and show hosts seem to express their bias a bit more with which team they personally support, which is kind of fun! I once worked on a sports radio show in Arizona so I find that really interesting.
Passion Piece: What media do you work for? How can you apply your international experience in your current work?
Rachael: I have been managing media and communications for Baseball Victoria for the past four years. I absolutely love my job and all the different responsibilities it entails, from writing internal comms to formatting documents and creating social media campaigns. I get the creative freedom to write a variety of different stories and come up with cool new social content. I also run my own freelance writing and communications business. I’ve been freelancing since I was in college and I spent about a year freelancing full-time when I headed to Australia in September 2017. Eventually when we move and have kids I will go back to full-time freelancing. Of course, we have our podcast and our blog, too! It keeps me very busy.
In terms of my international experience, I think it gives me a great foundation to keep improving in my current work. I grew up watching baseball and it’s genuinely my favorite sport, which helps me understand the context of different stories and content opportunities. I also have worked in breaking news for CBS New York, so that helps me comprehend the urgency of certain situations and the importance of being on top of sources and emerging stories. I’m just so grateful for all the different experiences that have led me to where I am today. I still have a lot to learn and a lot of areas in which I can improve, but that’s what life is for!
Passion Piece: You run a website accompanied by podcasts. Why did you and your friend decide to undertake such a challenge?
Rachael: So, like so many hobbies and passion projects, Help a Girl Out was born during the 2020 COVID lockdown. My friend Katie and I hadn’t seen each other in a while, but we stayed in touch over the phone whenever possible. She approached me with the idea of a storytelling podcast, as once when we were on a wine tour and telling a crazy story, other guests admitted to eavesdropping and wanted us to finish our story! We were so honored that they didn’t think we were annoying but instead wanted to hear what we had to say.
Anyway, when Katie suggested a podcast where we tell stories and offer our own version of life advice, I was intrigued. With my journalism/radio background, I felt like this could be a good project. While I studied broadcast journalism, most of my professional work has been in written comms/social media, so I thought the podcast could fulfill my yearn to present and work on my public speaking.
It definitely turned out to be a win-win and a super fun project for us! Katie and I talked more than ever before and we were pleasantly surprised to see how much our Instagram account and podcast took off. We even started a merch line which was really fun!
Passion Piece: What kind of topics do you discuss most often? Where do you look for the right resources?
Rachael: While we don’t have quite as much time to record together as we once did during lockdown, we still have lots of episodes and ideas in the works. We just think about different stories or topics that interest us, and also welcome special guests that we can chat to. We are most passionate about telling cool stories and highlighting interesting people, and honestly, we can chat to anyone! It’s just fun to see not only what each other think, but also how our guests feel and what they can bring to the table. Some of our most popular episodes have focused on dating and relationship advice, as well as moving across the world, chasing career goals, and making the most of international trips.
As a writer, podcaster, and storyteller, I firmly believe there are an unlimited number of stories to tell. I’d record a million episodes if we could! I’d love to talk to more people from all walks of life. Just scrolling through social media is a great place to find story ideas and possible people to talk to. Of course, Katie and I get a lot of ideas just from our own personal lives and the different scenarios we’ve encountered. From childhood to middle school to high school to college and adulthood, we’ve lived a lot and have some funny tales to share with our audience.
Passion Piece: Who is your target audience? How do you measure the efficiency of your work?
Rachael: Our target audience is anyone who will listen, haha! While we try to appeal to young women our own age, in their 20s and 30s, we hope the podcast offers something for people of all ages, genders, backgrounds, etc. Although not every episode will apply to everyone, we hope that having a variety of stories both on the podcast and the blog will broaden our appeal. There’s so much room for us to grow which is really exciting and one of the reasons why we love it so much.
To measure the efficiency of our work, we really look at more at written feedback than analytics. Of course the numbers are important – how many people are listening, which episode is the most popular, how many people have checked out our blog…but they aren’t a be-all end-all. We hope to grow our podcast and blog in the future but it’s still quite small compared to others out there, and that’s okay. As long as we are having fun and proud of the content we put out there, and hopefully shining a light on some awesome people and projects, then that’s what really counts.
Passion Piece: What’s the future of podcasting? Could it ever replace a written word?
Rachael: The future of podcasting is HUGE. I don’t think it would ever replace written word, but I do think podcasts will continue to grow in popularity. People love being able to listen at home or on the go, and podcasts offer the advantage of pausing and going back to listen whenever, unlike a real-time radio show. I think we will see more and more podcasts relating to public figures, organizations, finances, relationships, etc. There’s just so much opportunity there and I think more people will start to capitalise on it.
At the same time, I think blogs and social media will keep growing. More than anything, it will be important to stay authentic and look for opportunities to connect with your audience. Especially as influencing and social media content creation has become so big, I think people just like you and me want to hear from creators who are real, not trying to be just like everyone else. Being different is beautiful!
Passion Piece: How is it working with a good friend? Do your ideas ever clash?
Rachael: It’s really fun working with Katie. While we may have different ideas sometimes, we respect each other enough to honor different opinions and ideas. We always find a way to make it work for both of us! I think working with a friend can certainly bring up some challenges, but if you’re willing to work through it and truly enjoy what you’re doing, then you should make a great team. I’m so lucky that Katie is so fun, easygoing, and great to work with!
Passion Piece: What do you love doing in your free time?
Rachael: I try to stay as busy as possible as it helps me cope with my homesickness. My free time is almost always filled up with freelance writing, as I’m truly passionate about writing and I find it so fun. It’s so great to have a hobby that doubles as work! I’m very thankful for that. I am always up for an adventure, though. I love spending time with my dog Mystic, my husband Nick, and our family and friends. I love going out to eat, watching baseball/football games, cooking, working out, and walking in the park. The beach is another favorite of mine!
Passion Piece: Where do you see yourself and the podcasts you record in the near future?
Rachael: I really hope we can grow Help a Girl Out and build a bigger community of supportive, amazing women who are living their best lives! Katie and I have lots of ideas for new episodes, including stories from our beloved wine tour trips, traveling Australia, America, and Japan, and balancing our professional and personal goals. I would love to add more business/creator spotlights to our podcast episodes and also grow our blog with helpful travel guides and lifestyle posts. We’re happy to collaborate with anyone who is interested too
Passion Piece: Which motto would you like to share with my readers?
Rachael: 90% of the things you worry about never happen, and the other 10% you can’t do anything about. My mom and grandpa always told me this and it’s so true. I struggle with anxiety, but I’ve tried my best to manage it and remember that most of the things I worry about now won’t matter in a few years or even a few months. I think the state of our world can seem quite scary at times, especially with modern news consumption and social media, and we are aware of a lot of bad things happening which of course contributes to anxiety. That’s why I always try and take a time out when I feel myself getting to anxious and try to remember to make the most of every day, as cliché as that sounds. You just never know and I’d rather make the most of my life and the blessings I’ve been given. I find that trying to stay positive even when it’s tough helps me preserve through challenges, and I hope that others can do the same. I’m still a work in progress though, let’s be real!
Passion Piece: Thank you very much for this truly inspiring conversation and I wish you continued success in the world of podcasts.
See you around!
Photos by: Rachael Bouley-Djorgonoski