Alex Dickson

A Sydneysider all his life, 21-year-old Alex grew up in the picturesque Sutherland shire, where he developed a passion for the arts and entertainment throughout his school life, partaking in drama, before focusing his attention on the sciences through the final year of school.

Jumping from the sciences to a Bachelor of communications and media studies at the University of Wollongong, Alex was pushed into attending the week long winter radio school at AFTRS by one of his close friends in 2015, and has never looked back since, going so far as to attend the three week radio intensive in 2016 in order to apply for the graduate diploma, and dabbling in podcasting and audio production during his final year of university.

Having completed his degree with a major in Marketing and Advertising, Alex is thrilled to be Studying at AFTRS this year, with his heart firmly set on working in the radio industry, though doing what exactly is still a mystery. “I’m hoping that my time here at AFTRS will help me to discover what it is I’m good at, and I’m prepared to follow that wherever it leads”


Chloe MacKenzie

Chloe has always liked to search for situations that broaden her knowledge and challenge herself in new ways. So it seemed inevitable that Chloe would find herself in creative industries.

In 2016 Chloe completed her Media Arts degree at UNSW Art & Design, in Sydney. Here Chloe established a sound understanding and love of telling stories through visual mediums. During this time Chloe has experimented with fictional and factual short films, sound art and photo essays. Adhering to her passion for communicating narratives in through various formats, in 2016 she has favoured creating podcasts about social and political issues. Coming from an Arts background Chloe wanted to see how she could utilise her creative thinking and channel it into a medium like radio and podcast creation, which made her decide to apply for the Graduate Diploma in Radio at AFTRS.

Chloe grew up in Canberra listening to the likes of Myf Warhurst and Will and Adam on Triple J. Her idols growing up were first heard on radio such as the spice girls or Ella Hooper from Killing Heidi.


Chris Jolly

Chris Jolly originally started his career creating pretend radio shows on cassette tape…yep, that long ago!

While studying at University he was introduced to revues; the same place where Monty Python has its roots. It turned out that he loved being on-stage as well as behind a microphone.

Over the years, Chris performed (on and off stage, doing voice overs) and directed, in a number of revues from 2002 to 2004, a couple of plays that were adapted from Terry Pratchett novels – Guards! Guards! (2003) and Weird Sisters (2004). His first main role was in Happy Wings back in 2005, and Grave Intentions (2006).

After a 4 year break from performing, Chris appeared in Work/Life Sentence), a sketch show that went to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival in 2010.

From 2011 onwards, Chris tried stand-up comedy, was on various podcasts, community radio, and internet radio shows. From 2011 to 2012 he was a co-host on The Oz New Releases Show on 2RRR, and host of Jolly’s World of Web – which started as a podcast, then an internet radio show, and finally heard on 2RRR. The parody of astrology segment on Jolly’s World of Web, turned into a podcast called Jolly Astrology.


Ellie Parnell 

Ellie Parnell is 25 years old and moved from Adelaide this year to study at AFTRS.

She first fell in love with the idea of doing radio when she watched the ABC TV show Radio Free Roscoe as a kid. The program was about high school students who started a pirate radio station and Ellie loved the idea of hearing alternative music and youth voices on the air.

Ellie’s first radio hosting gig was a late-night student music show on Radio Adelaide called Midnight Static in 2013. After two years she moved over to hosting a weekly drive-time music show, The Range.

In 2016 Ellie finally finished her two undergraduate degrees: Law and Environmental Policy. It was only after six years of university that she realised her true passion, and the highlight of her time as a student, was volunteering on community radio.

In 2016 Ellie did a journalism workshop with Ira Glass (This American Life) in Sydney which involved analysing the work of AFTRS students. From that moment on she knew that the Graduate Diploma in Radio is exactly what she wanted to be doing this year.

Ellie is a podcast junkie and spends far too much money on live music and buying records. She hopes to work in public radio, play good tunes and make people laugh.


Grace Garde

Grace grew up in a quiet town on the Central Coast of NSW, where she spent most of her days dancing and listening to music.

After high school she decided to take on more creative pursuits and completed studying makeup and special effects. Although she still loves this, it was during that time that she fell in love with her part time job driving the promo cars at the local radio station.

Since then she’s become a co-host of the Project U Podcast (which was listed in the Sydney Morning Herald’s top 14 Australian Podcasts in 2015), and has had the opportunity to host the ARIAs red carpet coverage for Project U over the last 3 years.

Grace is super excited to take her passion for radio and music to the next level at AFTRS. She hopes radio will become a platform where she can make people laugh, talk about things that matter in the world, play exceptional pop music and tell dumb stories about things her dogs have done.


Joanna Lodge 

Joanna Lodge grew up in Sydney’s northern suburbs. As a child, she discovered how to record herself onto her cassette player. The seed was planted and she grew up with an obsession for great radio, music and live gigs.  This eventually led to her studying an Advanced Diploma in Sound production at JMC academy.

Joanna continued her passion for sound by then completing a Diploma in Screen and media – Radio production 2016. During this time she became an avid volunteer at Northside radio, and then later 2SER, where she worked as a breakfast producer and co-presenter on Hardcore Classic.

“During my work on Hardcore Classic, I have had the opportunity to interview some of my favourite hip hop artists. Also working on audio production from start to finish when it’s played on the airwaves is such an incredible process. I feel energised when i’m can be creative”

Joanna found a place in the Graduate Diploma In Radio at AFTRS 2017. Radio is her perfect match – they were last seen holding hands wandering into the sunset, to live happily ever after.


Liam Sommerville 

Liam is a 24-year-old Sydneysider residing in Sydney’s south-eastern suburbs. Liam Developed a passion for music at a young age playing trumpet in primary school and later moving on to bass in high school. During high school Liam developed a love for the punk and grunge genres that lead him form numerous bands influenced by these genres.

As Liam left high school he came to the shocking realisation that he was not meant to be a rockstar and decided to try his hand at the production side of music. Liam enrolled at JMC Academy to study their Audio engineering and sound production course. During his course Liam combined his love for music with his passion for film and decided to pursue sound design after leaving.

Liam began numerous internships and freelance jobs over the two years after graduating but soon realised sound designing was not a viable option. As Liam pondered on what to do next with his life while watching his favourite movie the boat that rocked he remembered when his mother went to a psychic when he was younger. The psychic saying he was destined to work in the radio industry.

Liam saw this as the perfect opportunity to pour his passion for music into and applied for the AFTRS Graduate Diploma in Radio. Now with a new fire awakened within him Liam is ready to channel all his passed audio knowledge into a new medium and learn as much as he can this year at AFTRS.


Mariam Belle

From an early age Mariam knew she wanted to be an entertainer. Growing up she attended a Performing Arts School in Brisbane, Queensland, which specialised in dancing, singing and acting for Musical Theatre.

Her love for radio was ignited in 2012 when Mariam landed the opportunity to host a program on Brisbane’s 4ZZZ. Telling stories, discussing issues that matter and discovering new music became her passion.

For the last two and half years Mariam has hosted the show “Late Breakfast with Belle” on Sydney’s Bondi Radio. During this time Mariam developed her on-line presence and also her ability to connect with a broad audience. The Late Breakfast program had a clear sound of old-school hip-hop and urban underground music. Because Bondi Radio broadcasts internationally on line, she quickly built up a following of urban DJ’s all the way from New York City. With a loud laugh, a fun personality and a unique sound to her voice, Mariam was able to gain a loyal listenership. Audiences tuned in each week to enjoy a program filled with lots of entertainment, fun guests and great music.

Mariam is currently studying Radio at the Australian Film Television Radio School. “I came to AFTRS to refine my craft and gain the knowledge and skills needed to crack the radio industry”.


Nele Dierick 

21 year old Nele Dierick spent her childhood in a small village in Flanders, Belgium. This is where her profound love for sound and the tales of everyday life found their origin. At the age of nineteen she decided to embrace this dream and she started to study of radio at RITCS in Brussels. At the Brussels student radio station XLAIR she presented a book program, and several reports about metal & rock performances.

Radio documentaries are her great love. Nele made it her own mission to discuss difficult topics. She made documentaries on mental health & ageing. Furthermore, metal and other underground music genres make her heartrate rise. She empties her piggybank for hikes, tattoos and photography.

Nele is a real globetrotter with restless legs and a wandering mind. She traveled in February to Australia for a three-month stay. She has promised that she will return!



Sam Baran

Sam was born in the rain-drenched and pine-scented forests of Portland, Oregon, hopping on a plane to Australia at the age of 10. Following a successful navigation of Australia’s secondary school system, he took his love of absurdism and world building to the University of Sydney, where he completed an Honours degree in quantum physics.

During his degree, Sam discovered the joy of audio in student radio society SURG-FM, making strange tales of the weird radio segments in the style of Rod Serling from The Twilight Zone. Keen to continue the radio dream, Sam started volunteering at 2SER 107.3FM in Sydney, working his way through literature show Final Draft, health show Panacea and national current affairs show The Wire, eventually ending up as the host of the Monday Daily until early 2017.

Eager for more radio, Sam joined FBi radio in early 2016 as a digital content creator, recording, editing and publishing culture and music interviews and features. His passion for theatre, music and the arts have led him on a journey through live performance and feature writing for Sydney culture magazine The Music. His absurdism found an outlet in the first season of Tales from Spasming Hill, a fantasy radio-drama set in the rolling hills of his home state of Oregon.

In 2017, Sam started a Graduate Diploma of Radio at AFTRS, hoping to bring his tales of the weird and creative audio of all kinds to Australian and American audiences alike.


Sean Brown 

Sean is 23 years old and grew up in Launceston, Tasmania. He attended Launceston College, a year 11 and 12 school, where his love of radio was born. The college has a fully functioning radio station which broadcast across the city, and Sean studied Media Radio for both his final years at school. After leaving the college he was invited back to run the radio station while studying a Bachelor of Performing Arts at the University of Tasmania.

Sean began DJing at a very young age and has always had a passion for music and journalism. He and his girlfriend Molly have been writing, recording and performing as a duo for the past 18 months. Sean has a strong interest in raising awareness of the issues surrounding mental health and young people, and has worked hard over the past few years to make a difference in his community.

Sean is excited to be moving to Sydney and feels very privileged to be undertaking the Graduate Diploma in Radio at AFTRS. He hopes to one day have a successful career in Radio and television.


Shweta Pai 

At the age of 6, Shweta moved with her family from Bombay (as it was known then) to Australia, and grew up in the Hills District, north-west of Sydney’s CBD.

Speaking five languages by the time she left India, she followed her love of language and culture, studying Japanese in high school, Spanish at university, and writing stories since the age of 8.

Shweta has a keen eye for interesting and fresh content, an interest in hearing different perspectives, and a drive for creative storytelling, so being a presenter or a producer might be just the ticket for Shweta’s future radio career. She is keen to discover more about the realm of radio and refine her media  skills through this year-long AFTRS Graduate program.

Shweta has a Bachelor of Arts at the university of Sydney, Majoring in English Literature, minoring in Education, and with lots of interesting side explorations into Film, Gender and Asian studies.  

Since finishing university, Shweta has pursued diverse roles including working in recruitment, marketing, account management, magazines, freelance photography and image licensing, refining many skill sets and gaining insights into different industries and organisations.

Apart from a career in radio, Shweta also hopes her future will involve lots of travel, writing, Shakespearean plays, and cats of any shape and size.