Jules Lund – a former television and radio presenter in Melbourne, and now the founder of the tech start up TRIBE is a game changer.
His television career began in 2004 on Getaway, and he appeared in almost 400 episodes during his time with Channel Nine.
He moved to radio in 2007. Along with Ryan Shelton and Tamsyn Lewis, he presented Summer Fling, a breakfast show on the Austereo Today Network. From 2011, he co-hosted Fifi & Jules during Drive with Fifi Box on the Today Network (leaving Friday’s show open for Hamish Blake and Andy Lee to get their start in radio). In 2014 her co-hosted (with Merrick Watts and Sophie Monk) Jules, Merrick & and Sophie during breakfast on 2Day FM, until the show was replaced by The Dan & Maz Show (with Maz Compton and Dan Debuf). Jules then joined Emma Freedman to host The Scoopla Show, an entertainment news segment on the HIT Network between 2015 and 2016.
Jules left radio in September 2015 to launch TRIBE, a marketplace for social influencers and the brands that need them.
Jules Lund: At the end of five years on radio, you had already gone.
Jules: I had had five unbelievable ... Three years with Fifi and I and then I did ... I can't even remember, there was a couple of Spice Girls in there. I did another show. I finished this contract, and I looked back I went, 'My God, that's been good for me because if I didn't do Getaway, I would have been stuffed had I not been doing radio'. Then I was like, 'I've got to thank SCA'. I turned around, and no one was left. Everyone who hired me, they'd all gone before me.
Craig: Hi, this is Craig Bruce, and welcome to Game Changers. This week my guest is Jules Lund. Look, it's likely Jules will never do another full-time radio show. As you know, he hosted National Drive on the hit network with Fifi Box and 2Day FM Breakfast with Merrick Watts and Sophie Monk a few years back, but without being too presumptuous, I just can't imagine Jules going back to radio anytime soon.
So why is he on this podcast? I mean this is a radio podcast, isn't it? Well, Jules is one of the most interesting, authentic, one of the most passionate people I have ever met, and his story is worth telling. He wins a radio contest in 2001. He then hosts his own radio show that addresses mental health issues for young people. He starts a TV career where he becomes the host of pretty well everything. Then to make things really complicated he replaced two of the biggest shows on Australian radio. Firstly, Hamish & Andy in the national drive slot and then Carl and Jackie on 2Day breakfast. Now he's the founder of a social media marketing company that is going global pretty bloody quickly. He's fearless, he's funny, and you know I'm really lucky to have him as a friend. On Game Changers, this is Jules Lund. Jules Lund, welcome to Game Changers.
Jules: Happy to be here.
Craig: This is a podcast that is really the study of success in broadcast, but...
Jules: See you later.
Craig: But specifically today it's kind of the timeline of a friendship that started in 2001. I mean maybe I've taken too much liberty there, but I see you as a mate. We met in 2001, which was your first radio experience. Do you want to take me through that? You applied for a radio contest.
Jules: Yeah. So, I never really listened to radio, but I happened to be listening to it in my old Valiant Chrysler '76 driving out to a school talk. I had the stereo in the back, and in those days I was working for the Reach Foundation, and I was running life coaching sessions. I heard Tracy say, 'What's your claim to fame?' I rang up, and I described the story of me and my mate Josh when we were in America, rather than going to theme parks, we just went to talk shows. I was like, 'Yeah, my mate got comment of the day on Ricky Lake, and I got into a fight with some prostitute on Jerry Springer, and I proposed to a girl on Sally Jesse Raphael and Roseanne Barr gave me $100, and we did all these things, and we were on all the TV channels', so I just had a brag.
Then Mel Murphy, superstar producer rang me up while I was doing a school talk and said, 'Do you want to come in for this audition for this competition?' I said, 'What is this thing?' And she said, 'Do you want to come in now?' And I was like, 'How many people have applied?' She said, '10,000'. And I said, 'You must be desperate, like you're still pushing'. I remember I drove down to Fox FM, and I arrived, and you were there...
Jules: ... with a lot more hair. Then I said, 'Oh, I just have to go to the bathroom'. Then I went to the bathroom, and I was wearing like parachute pants, like sand coloured. The bowl at Fox FM... Do you remember that bowl? It just used to always splash.
Craig: Oh, no, mate. I don't think I had...
Jules: It was a devil.
Craig: ... those problems.
Jules: It splashed all over my legs, and then I could hear you knocking on the door saying, 'Are you okay in there?' I'm trying to hit the hair dryer to jump my crotch up and it wouldn't dry enough. Then I just came out. I walked into the room. And you said, 'What happened? Did you piss yourself?' And I just looked you in the eye and said, 'Yep'. And you thought...
Craig: You're in.
Jules: You're in. If this guy is stupid enough to tell me he just urinated all over himself, then he might be good for radio.
Craig: What were your first impressions of a radio station, a radio studio, a radio show? What do you remember?
Jules: Oh, I was excited. Keep in mind, in those days, it was all about free stickers and tickets to the movies. Those Black Thunders and the Fox, whatever they were, street team. You saw them at every event. They were Stick Maribo and Troy Ellis. I was a tight-ass little kid, so I used to get free chips whenever I saw them. I'd chase them down the street. And in fact, just earlier, I think literally two weeks earlier, me and Hamish were at the Logie's...
Craig: This is Hamish Blake?
Jules: Yeah. At the Logie's, I don't know how old we were. Young. Because I had got tickets to the bleachers from the Double TFM street team, and we went to that and sat in the bleachers dressed up.
Craig: Did you cause trouble there, or no? Did you just watch...
Jules: Yeah, I think we flicked our nipples at Ricky Martin, and he flicked them back. And then that was on the front cover of the newspaper and we thought, 'We've made it'. But ironically, it was always the radio industry was exciting, and I remember I was drafting this email to Sadie, your team, whoever it was. Because Double TFM said 'Why don't you get involved?' And I was like, they wasn't as cool as Fox FM, so I was crafting this email to say 'I wanna work for free; how can I get involved?' And then literally never sent it. And then two weeks later, I had my own show.
Craig: Yeah. This was after the Fifteen Days of Fame had happened. This is around the same time. So, you're thinking about radio, and the radio contest happens. That's amazing. Because you were on the air for two, so this is fifteen days. Fame said the premise was, what would it be like to be famous for fifteen days, and you were the guinea pig. We put you on a billboard, you had the face on a billboard. I think you recorded a song?
Jules: Yeah, I think you called me J. Lou right when J. Lo was going ...
Craig: That's right!
Jules: I still feel like I've, I've got the CDs at home. If you ever need one, hit up the podcast, what's the address for you guys? Because I've still got about a thousand of these.
Craig: Let's not bother with that, mate. And you stayed, we put you up in a penthouse, I think. Did you have the boys over? You had at least Hamish's...
Jules: Yeah, I think it was exactly around that time. I never got to enjoy it, because you were out there flogging me at every bloody scandalous shopping appearance that I did intro, and Big Brother just hit. I was out all day, every day. But yeah, Hame is having a blast and I think he broke the spa from memory. He just had a blast in a $3,000 a night room, and I think Hamish started there a little bit, but it was awesome. It was a really good, exciting time, and it was the most unbelievable crash course in the industry. What you liked, what you didn't like. I was very lucky.
Craig: So back a step, did you call yourself a life coach at 22? Is that how you saw yourself? Let's think back about you as a teenager, right? Because we kind of touched on this. Obviously away from radio, you kind of struggled a bit through school. What was going on for you?
Jules: I was just a ratty kid. I had no reason to be, I don't think, but I did struggle, and I had a mouth on me. And so obviously in school, I would rip kids apart for a laugh. And I suppose that was pretty toxic. There was a workshop at my school when I was in year nine, and Jim Steins, who is an AFL footballer, and Paul Curry, who's a film director, it was the first time they'd ever worked together to run a programme for teenagers. Jim had worked with teenagers through sports camps, Paul had done it through drama camps. And they said, what happens if we use these disciplines to try to get a message of positivity, actually make a difference and help strengthen people's, or especially kid's belief in themselves? So they said, let's go out and go to a school, and they came out to De la Salle College Molvin, because Jim had done teaching rounds there.
And they spoke to my session, and I was at the back trying to sabotage it as best I can, just ripping them apart, thinking I got to do what I do with every guest speaker. Try to make them cry. And then Jim goes 'Right, you. Stand up'. And the teacher's about to kick me out. He said, 'Stand up. What's your name?' And I said 'Rupert'. And everyone laughed. And then he just, I can't explain it, but he ripped through me. It's like he punched me in the face with a pat on the back. It was sort of like, are you getting what you want out of life? Because clearly, you're leading your group. There's something there. But the way you're going ... and I don't know, it just broke me down, and it made me think. It was talking about being at your best without being wanky. And at that age, 14, 15, that was pretty much the only thing that had cut through.
So, I turned up to that course, and that was 23, 24 years ago. And that's through that I'd met an enormous amount of people, and Jim took me under his wing as my mentor. I was captivated by this guy.
I used to follow Jim as much as I could. He's a hard man to get around, but I jus ... You know, I got my licence so I could drive him to Rotary Clubs to do speeches, or teacher's days, or going out to a school down the coast. And I would drive him, so I could spend time with him and learn from him.
And I used to just follow him around at all these talks, and write down word for word what he'd do, and I'd be practising. And then after a while, I just really enjoyed running those sessions, and so I then... I think I worked with in a few years, a hundred thousand different kids in Victoria, just me and my Valiant and my stereo, just driving around in the countryside. And I wasn't a life coach, because I didn't have much life, but I was able to talk about the five years prior to that point, and sometimes that was all that was enough. But I realised that I didn't have enough life experience, so that's when I said I have to go overseas.
Craig: And get yourself on talk shows, and get yourself kicked out of TV studios.
Jules: Yeah. Exactly. Like a grownup. Beause that's what other adults did.
Craig: Did you meet Sam Cavanagh before or after Reach?
Jules: Funnily enough, on the very first night that I walked into that Reach course, after they came to my school, first and foremost, Jim and Paul were stunned because I was the shitty kid. I walked in and I didn't know anyone. I walked over to this kid and I said, 'That's a really nice woollen knitted turtleneck'. And Sam said, 'Thanks, my mum made it'. And we've been best mates ever since.
Craig: Yeah. So, you and Sam got together post Fifteen Days of Fame...
Jules: Pre. By years.
Craig: No, I'm talking about Dash the radio show. So, I don't know how it came up in conversation, but a version of this came up in conversation when... Because I was the assistant content director at Fox, and I was point guard for Fifteen Days of Fame. So essentially we spent fifteen days together, and did a lot of this conversation, and you mentioned Reach. And I said, maybe we could do a radio show, a radio version of Reach. It made sense that we would do something like that. That became your first radio show, and Sam VP'd that show. Do you remember those days?
Jules: Oh, yeah. They were horrible. It was really... Yeah, it was extraordinary. You said you have your own show, once a week. What do you want to do? And I said, 'I'd love to do Reach, but on air'. And you said no worries, we'll give you a producer, and I said no, they won't understand what I'm talking about. It has to be someone from Reach. And Sam, who was studying criminology at the time, I rang him up and said, 'Mate', and I knew he worked his ass off, because we'd done stuff before, and I just knew his work ethic. And he's bloody smart. And so, I just said, 'I don't know, have you ever thought about radio?' And he goes, 'Man, I work at a CD shop. I haven't heard radio in years', like he just didn't even know anything about the radio. Nothing. Even if he did, it would've been Triple Jail, some indie stuff. He had a goatee down to his nipples. He had a mohawk. I think he had an earring in a part of his ear that you're just not meant to pierce. So, I said 'Hey mate, let's look at this opportunity'. And like every other decision in his life, he sees the spirit of adventure, and he leapt into it.
So, we had no idea. He was my producer and I was on air, and we were doing a show at 10:30pm at night. It was tough. We did it for two years, and ironically the premise was so well before its time, because it was a podcast. It was a stunning podcast, exactly like at Team Ferra's, which was called Dash. And the premise was like that poem, the two dots and it has a line in there, the two dots on your tombstone are not nearly as important as the dash in between, make the most of it. And each show was about finding someone who had succeeded, whether they were an adventurer like Jesse Martin or they were a Brownlow medalist like Shane Warden, or they were Mandy Moore, a pop star. Whatever they had succeeded in, and talk about their journey. Not what they've achieved, but how. Talk about the struggles, the exhaustion, the failure. Pick it apart, because in those days, you never showed the journey. No one listened. Not one person listened.
Craig: I will tell you, hand on my heart. I've made lots of radio over the last 30 years, and that's still the most, I have the most pride in that particular project. And I mean that. When anyone asks me, I say that late night show we did. And it was ahead of its time, but it was done with such good intention as well. There was so much to it. Brian Ford, who was the PD at the time, who gave us... and look, ten o'clock at night, no one was going to get hurt. The ratings weren't an issue. But the fact that he allowed you and Sam, and I think about now, and I look at, you know, you are patient one. For radio people that are listening and thinking about Hamish and Andy, and Whipper, and Sam Cavanagh, and Ryan Shelton, you are patient one. You came into Fox. Do you understand what I mean? And you brought all of these amazing people.
For the podcast, you'll hear an interview, or you may have heard an interview with Tom Gleisner. And you think about all of these incredible people that the D generation brought to Australian media, and you think of that ecosystem around yourself and Hamish and...
Jules: But they all would've made it anyway.
Craig: I understand. Yes.
Jules: Absolutely. Maybe not Sam, to be honest, without a tap on the shoulder. But you know, in those years, because Hamish and Andy were a force of nature. Those days growing up it was Hamish and Rye, because they both went to school with my wife, and I met them through all the Reach guys. We were all young kids going to all these parties, and then around Fifteen Days of Fame I remember Andy meeting... I'm sorry, Hamish meeting Andy, and then there was even... these guys were... and I remember trying to keep a lid on them a bit, just so I could at least get ahead as much as I could a little bit, but then when we did Dash, I remember going 'Guys', these young kids, because you didn't even take them seriously at the time because they were too young. They literally were too young, and I remember recording them to do some IDs, you know. 'Hey, listen to Dash'. And I put a microphone in front, it was a mini disc player back then. And these fuckers, I couldn't believe. I gave you that mini disc player and you listened to it.
Craig: And you know what I did with it, I took it downstairs to Jeff Allis who was head of content, and I said to him, 'I know you've got talent budgets. Put it all on Red. These are the guys'. And he did, and...
Jules: And it was just, I mean, it was their brain. The speed.
Jules: And it was like, honestly I just heard them spew out ID after ID, like one liners that you would write forever and you would have to get someone to perform, and they were just spitting them out. They must've been like 30 of them. But all those talented people, especially this bloody industry in Australia. Turns out they're not making too many new fresh talent. Those guys would've always risen to the top, but it was, they were very fun years seeing the friends around us able to get in.
Craig: And get moving.
Jules: And spread their wings, yeah.
Craig: So, as they moved through radio, you moved towards TV.
Jules: Well, you left, and Brian left. And Sam and I were still trying to do the radio show, and the person that replaced you wasn't as friendly and didn't really care about the vision, and crushed our little fucking spirits. So, we gave up, and at that stage Sam had got an offer to help on the Tracy and Matt Breakfast Show, with Mel Murphy. And then I think they got Hamish in to do the dares and stuff, and that was great. And I said, I really want to get into TV. So, I said, in the next twelve months I'm going to do everything in my power to get my dream job on Getaway, and I invested in a show reel and got rid of my toasted sandwiches and beer gut, and then I was very lucky to be able to land it.
Craig: So, when you say, and you are the sort of person that when you put your mind to it, most things will come your way. So, when you say everything in my power to make something happen, what do you mean? Did you have, not a vision board, but how focused were you on getting that TV gig? Were you prepared to do anything to get it? Is that how it worked for you?
Jules: Well, Molly did introduce me to a couple people. Jokes aside, Graham Yarwood. He was running nine at the time. I was obsessive. I'm talking... I did everything in my power. So, I did every course that I could find in the country for TV presenting, and then I ran out of those, and I did every acting course and voiceover course. And then I ran out of those. And then I created my own course, and I paid my cousin Oscar to film me out on the street to try to get my skills up to a point where I'd be head and shoulders above the others. I would identify my weaknesses, and then I'd go 'I'm going to...'
Craig: Fix those.
Jules: Fix those.
Craig: And it's interesting, because I think through that Getaway experience, and having to take so much of the visual part of that work and run that yourself, that played a pretty significant role five or six years later when you came back to radio with the Fifi and Jules Show, and Carl and Jack, and probably sowing the seeds of what you learned through social media and how good you were from an online perspective happened through Getaway.
Jules: Yeah. I'd always been visual. Before I travelled overseas, I was studying graphic design. I love photography, I always loved creating content and producing. Like Jim Steins, that mentor I was telling you about, sadly he died. He was hit up by about 26 tumours in the end that got cut out of every part of his body; brains, skin, bone, blood, you name it.
‘The great Jim Stein quietly reveals he's battling cancer.’
‘AFL great Jim Stein's fight for life.’
Jules: This is not a documentary about a footballer. It's not even a tale about someone fighting cancer. It's a rare insight into a unique mind that is nothing short of extraordinary.
Obviously he was my best mate, so i just had my little camera in my pocket, and I just filmed a lot of that journey. And in the end, Paul Curry, who was that film director, sat down and said, 'Let's actually pull this together as a beautiful little documentary'. Now in those days we thought Jim was going to live, so before he died, he got to watch a one-hour documentary crafted by two people who love him very much, to celebrate him.
I actually got a call from one of the major newspapers, one of the journalists said, 'Do you mind writing an article on your mate Jim? But more as an obituary, like a eulogy'. And I said, 'But he's not dead'. And he said, 'Yeah, I know, but we just want to get prepared'. That was nine months ago, and would you have a look at the bastard. He's still out bench pressing...
And this is a guy that gave... I would have to say there's two people that have given me so much as mentors, and to be honest, two people that... I don't want to sound like a wank here, but that actually saw something in me that I never saw myself, and I still don't really see. But two people that have gone 'You know what? That's really, whatever that is'. And that was Jim, and the other one is you.
I walked into that meeting, and you've continually, even when I was doing Getaway, 'Come back to radio!' And I was like, 'I've got nothing to offer'. And all the way through it, honestly, there's so much of my things that I give my kids now, and my wife, and the security that we have is literally because of you. To be able to thank Jim in that way and create that documentary, and look. To be honest, I've actually got you a gift today. It's not a documentary, but this is...
Craig: Do you want me to open it now?
Jules: Yeah, open it. It's just a little something.
Craig: Wow, that's very kind of you mate...
Jules: I've been meaning to give it to you since...
Jules: Well, it's not that big a gift. I mean, I didn't realise we were doing a podcast. I just have been slack. So, it's just a beautiful little travel wallet.
Craig: That's fantastic!
Jules: But here's the card.
Craig: So, typical of you, mate. You're a legend. Thank you, it says.
Jules: It's got nothing in it, because I haven't got around to writing it.
Craig: But you're a busy man. We're at the offices of Tribe, you're a busy man.
Jules: No, but my point here is...
Craig: Thank you, man.
Jules: At the end of five years on radio, you had already gone. And I had had five unbelievable, three years with Fifi and I, and then I did, I can't even remember. There was a couple of Spice Girls in there. I did another show. And I finished this contract, and I looked back and I went my God, that's been good for me. Because Getaway, I would've been stuffed had I not been doing radio. And then I was like, fuck, I've got to thank SCA. I turn around, no one was left! Everyone who hired me, they'd all gone before me. And so I was literally like, fuck, and who do I have to thank for this? It's not Graham. I haven't had much to do with Graham. And so I bought that gift for you, and that was in December. And as you can see, I have...
Craig: Just haven't written it.
Jules: … go around at getting it. But I'm going to give you the card now.
Craig: Brilliant. Thank you mate.
Jules: No, I'm going to verbally say it. Dear Craig, the brew. CB. I must say, so much of what I'm thankful for in my life, quite seriously, is because of your undeniable passion for seeing potential in young people and working tirelessly to realise it. Not only have you backed me in my career, but I have watched you as an absolute champion of the spirit of youth. You have seen smartasses and you've been able to identify things that, as I say, no one sees until you nurture that out. And I've watched you back people, and you've got an unbelievable eye. You really are the best investor, because you can see a stock well before it's boomed. Sadly, I offered you Tribe to invest in us, and you fucking didn't. So, you're not that good, oh, we're not over yet.
Jules: I'll be going back to you at asking for that wallop back, so I could get some cash back.
Craig: Thank you, mate. It's very kind of you. And the reason none of it feels weird is because none of it's a surprise that that's how you would ... We talk about these sorts of things all the time when we get together. Let's stay on you for a couple of minutes. So you have through your life, always reached in towards really big, audacious, challenging moments. And from a radio perspective, there were some food fights along the way with Hamish and Andy, and you kind of kept your state around the SEA family, and then you came back to replace your best mate, Hamish Blake, on the biggest radio show that Australia has ever seen. What were you thinking at the time? Tell me, were you nervous? How were you feeling? Because that's such a massive challenge.
Jules: You know I said no for about eighteen months, because you kept asking me through Sammy Cav. And I'd be going, 'No way'. And then it started to get, because the boys may not be in that slot forever. And I was thinking, oh fuck off! You think I'm going to follow that act? That is a lamb to slaughter. I'm not wearing that in a million years.
Why did I do it? I don't know, it was pretty scary. The same can be said when I had to bloody follow Kyle and Jackie O.
Craig: We're going to get to that. But if you think about that, the two shows that you've done that people remember you for...
Jules: Yeah, I'm not in the spot anymore, so I clearly was the lamb.
Craig: But they were such massive challenges. So Fifi was, I guess she was an industry friend, you knew Fifi from around the place?
Jules: Well, I'd been on the whole shebang a few times with Marty Sheargold, and Byron. I loved them. They were so funny, I loved listening to them. And Fifi's just dynamite, like a force of nature. So that was definitely the attractive part, and also Sammy Cav's like, I get to work with Sam again after. And to be honest, I wasn't doing that much in TV. I'd hosted every shit show under the sun. Hole in the Wall, I mean Australia's... I'd named things that you wouldn't even, Australia's Perfect. There was a time there at Channel 9, they just had no one. I think Jamie Drew left, and I was just like, everything. I did every type of genre you can imagine, and none of them stuck. And I was just starting to walk around as if I had dog shit on my shoes.
I don't think I was, and there was no shows for me. I wanted to spread my wings in TV, but there was nothing there. And I wanted to move over to the States, and in fact that's what I was sort of going to do. It was David Gyngall who convinced me to do radio, more than anyone.
Craig: Is that right?
Jules: Yeah. Because I sat down with him, and I said, 'My wife or girlfriend at the time, Anna, and I are going to go to LA, and I'm going to do Getaway from there. And I'm going to try and have a crack'. And I'd been over there, and I'd got signed. I got really close to a few auditions, which you can be very close to a few auditions for fifteen, twenty years. And he just said that. He said, they will kill you with encouragement. You will be 99% there, and you'll stop. And it will be hard yards. And he says, 'Tell me about this radio offer'. And I told him about it, and he says, 'You'd be absolutely mad not to do that'.
And then Michael Healey, who works at Channel 9 still, said the same thing. And I sat there and I walked straight out, rang the agent, said 'Let's do it'.
Craig: What did you need to learn? So, you'd done, you'd filled in, you'd been a guest, you'd won a radio contest, you'd been around radio for a period of time. What did you need to learn doing your own show? What was missing from your skillset?
Jules: So much. So much. You think you're just going from 'I can tell a story on air', and then Sammy and the team would say 'Right, we're just going to paste this through, and here's our plan for the first eighteen months. And by about eighteen months, we'll start to get into a flow'. And I was like, 'But we're hilarious, and we just had a big chat. Where else is there to go?' And they said, 'Alright, for the next six months, we'll just do the basics. You're going to do phoners, raves, and this before we do any arcs'. And I'm like, 'What the hell?' And sure enough, it took all of eighteen months to try and actually understand what is radio.
And there's other things I need to learn. I'd never worked in a company like that. My Getaway was literally they'd email me, and I'd turn up at the airport. So I turned up to Fox with stationery. Like, I'd gone to Office Works and a bag, and I'd turned up and I said, 'Whose milk is this? Does anyone mind if I have some of this milk?' And then I bought baked beans and everything, and filled my drawer. I just couldn't get my head around, like, do I say hi to everyone in the hallway? Like, do you just go 'Hi, hi, hi' when do you get to the next... it was just really odd. It took me so long. I felt like I was this boy from the jungle. And then have meetings, it was a big learning curve.
Craig: Do you remember the 'Let Fifi Shine' post-it notes? And what was the story behind it?
Jules: Yeah. That was the biggest, I don't remember... So did you put up the post-it notes?
Craig: No, you wrote it. It was in your words, let Fifi shine.
Jules: Yeah, it was very clear up the front. When you're... I've just been an attention sink the whole time, I'm really happy to admit. Performance is just about me, me, me, me. You think that that is what it is, but then to go with someone else, you think it's just 'Alright, they'll talk about themselves, then you'll talk about you, and then'... It was a really big learning to actually go, right, actually this is about Fifi. I have to bring out and make her shine, and it took a while, but I actually think I enjoyed it most. I found her far more fascinating and entertaining than I found myself. And so that's where social media and videos and audio stuff was, because she just was endlessly entertaining. And also the audience loved her, so it was easy to get into that, get in front of that parade. It worked towards my favour to celebrate her in those ways. It seemed to work.
Craig: Why was that online social video content so obvious to you? It felt like you were years ahead of a lot of your contemporaries in that respect, in terms of seeing the opportunity in terms of where you can place content above and beyond broadcast. Why was that obvious to you? Was that from a TV perspective, or you just had a general...
Jules: No, it was honestly TV. When I came from TV, all of my ideas, you ask the guys. All of my ideas were visual. And I'd just kept saying, righto. 'They can't see you!' And I'm like, 'Yeah, but...' And that's when they said, 'Just go and play on the social media platforms that no one here in radio gives a shit about'. And no one did. The social platforms, it was just the shitest stuff, because no one knew that it was a channel on its own. They all thought it was there to support radio, and there were three main uses. The first one was just to visualise something on air. Hey, Fifi's got chewing gum in her hair again. Here's the photo. The next one was, they used to try to pre-promote phoners. Hey guys, we're going to be asking questions. Tune in 1060. Have you ever got chewing gum stuck in your hair? I can't even remember what the third... ah. Continuing the conversation, like this is what happened. It was just garbage.
But then what I, and the team, realised was, oh my God! The social media audience is a completely different audience than the radio audience. Yes, there's crossover. But don't talk to the digital audience as if you're doing a radio show. We were a brand, and that's how we express. You're just distributing it differently. It's the same moment. On radio, you hear the audio. Here you should see that. But don't reference radio, you don't need to. And then I suppose, but there was a boom. Everyone was going nuts in social. But I was very much the last, like I don't use Facebook socially. In those days, I spent all my energy exploring on Fifi and Jules assets rather than my own, because it was better for content. But I didn't naturally want to use that, it wasn't a natural expression. It was purely a love the marketing side of it, and the marketing is more important than me wanting to broadcast something about what happened to me today.
Craig: When you're a trailblazer though, you're out ahead of the pack. You don't have any reference points. So how do you know when the whole industry doesn't have it right, and there are better ways? Where do you ...
Jules: You just test and learn. You just see it, and you go ah fuck, that's better than what we've done. I mean in those days, you were getting numbers. The conversations were huge. I was fresh, I think I was still working on Getaway at some points. And I would see the TV ratings, and then I would see my social post ratings, and they were far bigger. Immediately I didn't spend an hour engaging that audience, it might've just been a two minute video. But I was reaching more people than Channel 9 in that moment, so it was pretty obvious to just go, Jesus. And then I thought, there's power to this. And where I realised there was enormous power was in the depth of connection. That surprised me. TV's like being on stage in front of an audience. Radio is sort of like, you're having a conversation, and your audience is eavesdropping on the other table. But social was like, you talk, they talk back. It was a conversation.
Craig: Did you get stuck down that rabbit hole? I mean, you're an obsessive person.
Jules: Yes, holy shit yes. You ask anyone.
Craig: I was going to say, did you wife tell you to turn your bloody phone off? Or what was going on?
Jules: Honestly, she was in labour. And I was, if we could call her. She was in labour, and I was speaking to I think it was either Blake Phillips or Josh Jansen about an edit. I got completely obsessed, ask Fifi. I just got so obsessed. It really freaked me out. But you know, funnily enough, we got 20,000 content creators that are just as obsessed now.
Craig: Exactly. It's interesting, and as I'm seeing that happen. My daughters are, I remember taking my then thirteen year old daughter to a Jason Durule concert. And as was always the case, I'd get backstage and meet the artist and we'd get a photo, and you know, she was the luckiest thirteen year old in Australia. We're coming back from this show in the cab, and she's looking at the pictures and I said, 'If you posted them online', and she said, 'No, I'll do that at seven tomorrow night. There's no one listening now'. And I'm thinking, oh shit! Everyone's got their own media. It's like the penny really dropped.
You're a trailblazer. I offered Fox breakfast to you at the end of 2012 and you said no, do you remember why? And then I offered breakfast to you in 2013 to replace Carl and Jack, the biggest FM show this century, and you said yes.
Jules: I can't remember. I think it was probably something to do with the money?
Craig: That could be.
Jules: Like, one paid a lot more than the other? And you had to get up at shit o'clock either way?
Craig: Because you were doing, we had the bat phone at your house when Carl was sick, which was all the time. I don't think people realised how often he was having days off. But you had a special mobile phone next to your bed, get the call at four o'clock in the morning, two hours later you're on the air with Jackie. And when I would hear you with Jackie, I would go wow, this guy's just made for... I mean, I've always been a fan. But this guy's just made for breakfast radio! But there's a different performance when it's not your show, and it's all care no responsibility. Would that be...
Jules: Oh yeah, absolutely. Fly in. And also, when we did that, when we actually did the radio show, God it was tough. It was tough. What was that, 2014?
Craig: Yeah. And we were in that bubble for three months, so Carl and Jack have left, and we had this bubble for three months where there was no ratings at that point, in terms of we didn't have a number to start with. And there was some hope beyond hope that we would at least have a starting point that was reasonable, and then obviously we had that first result where the...
Jules: We lost 70%.
Craig: Seven points, yeah. From a ten to a three. So that was a pretty tough day for me. How did you go, what were you feeling there?
Jules: I just blamed you.
Craig: Of course!
Jules: If they did a better job, we wouldn't be... I just moved my family up here, and I've got a three year contract.
Craig: So, you're driving home to see your family and your breakfast show's gone down seven points, and you're own your own in that car on the way. In your own head, what is going on for you?
Jules: To be honest, there was nothing going on in my head. I was in a state of fatigue. Honestly, I was in a fog for the first six months. I don't know if it's not that I'm built for breakfast radio, but I literally, it physically threw me for so long. It was tough, but they're not the things I worry about. I worry about my own performance, and what I can contribute. And I wasn't contributing what I wanted to, like you'd always said, I'd gone from Fifi and Jules, and you were like "I'd love you to be the anchor." And I just never had a passion about that, even though I would go and MC something and be the traffic cop, and I would be able to see things before they happened...
Craig: Yeah, that's how I imagined it on radio.
Jules: You know, big TV. To do that role three hours a morning, you're either that person or you're not. And I think I pretend to be that person when I'm MC-ing. Or I do a TV show, like I think... I don't know, I can't explain it. But I remember, because you know how obsessive I am, and when I put my head down, you just couldn't figure out why I couldn't get it. Because I actually didn't fucking care. I couldn't get myself, and ironically by the end of it, I was doing it second nature.
Craig: You were doing really well.
Jules: And I left... pity now I was listing. But I could do it now. But those first six months, I went from I suppose telling funny stories and having an absolute blast in the studio to being this serious one that couldn't share anything personal. And had Sophie Monk, Merrick Watts...
Craig: And Mel B down the line. From Los Angeles.
Jules: And Mel B. And we didn't have an EP. We had no EP. And Donna was the...
Craig: Program director at the time.
Jules: Program director at the time, so she was sort of stepping in for it. But we had no EP, so it was a bit of guesswork and it was really tough, because she had to run the radio station all day, which has got some eyes on it. Carl and Jackie O had just left. And then we were trying to find our own feet in there, and...
Craig: Yeah, the irony is that looking back now, I think the work we did by the end of that year was better than anything that we've had on Today FM since. It's just we didn't stick with it for long enough. Don't worry, I was well and truly up for starting again. I thought we had to, because we just launched.
Jules: I was exhausted by the end. So, don't forget, Mel B jumped ship. Soph had gone, I'm out of here. And me and Merrick were sitting there, and literally towards the end, me and Merrick and Soph, best radio. And you'll ask Merrick, and he's been on every station. Some of the best radio. And months of the best radio. We were absolutely flying. But that's the funny thing. In radio, you got to bounce off the walls. Our audience, it was just echo. We couldn't, there were so few people listening that the phone, it's like you're the world's best restaurant, but you're down the alley. It's like, it'd take you years to fill that hole. And I was looking at this thing going, whoever's going to fill this hole, it's going to take them five to ten years. Yeah, you said, alright. We're not going to move on. And I was like, because I don't think it was cut out for me anyway.
Craig: Do you miss radio?
Jules: Yeah. I did a bit of stuff with Dan and Mazer, I filled in for Dan, and I forgot how entertaining the audience is. My favourite bits of Fifi and Jules were all the audience. And to have an audience where you can say, 'Hey, have you been shot? Have you died and come back?' And when you got a national audience, the switchboard would light up.
Craig: That was the, We've Got One segment, wasn't it? I loved that. Was it called We've Got One, or...
Jules: Yeah. We've got one! From Ghostbusters. And today, I found, we just had to go 'Have you got a phone? Call us'. Well, you had to be so broad, and still. When I filled in doing phoners, because yeah it's good to prepare what you're going say. Like, you tell stories. That stuff kills me, you know. Because you're going in on the weekend and something happens that's okay, and then you're like, 'But what if that happened in your head, and then oh no I can't tell that story', and you just polish this turd. And then you pitch it in, and they... oh, God. No one's got a life that is that entertaining. You got to really drum some stuff up and give it some spin.
But what I loved is when you asked the questions, and then these callers are hilarious. The biggest belly laughs were always the unexpected stuff, and I bet you Hame and Andy and anyone in radio would say that. I loved it. I absolutely miss that.
Craig: So we're in these amazing offices of this incredible company that you're in the process of building, and a lot of it is, where is the future of media and content moving towards? You've kind of been ahead of that game in lots of ways. For young presenters that are starting out in radio, what are the skills they need apart from being able to talk into a microphone? What're the sorts of things they're going to need to do to compete with a young Jules Lund who's going to do whatever it takes to get ahead?
Jules: Oh, god. That's a big question. The first bit is that when I was 22, and you said, 'You've got something, you're really entertaining'. There's billions of them. That's everyone.
Craig: Was there billions back then?
Craig: We just didn't know about them.
Jules: Yeah, but you're in a network and you've got no access to them. So we cut through, and we were a safer bet. But everyone with a YouTube channel, everyone's got a voice. And what social media has exposed is that everyone is compelling to someone. Radio says you have to be this type of compelling to this type of someone, so it's just one channel. But if you compare that to billions of other channels, and then you can curate your own channel. My favourite thing to do is sit down and flick through my Instagram feed, of all these weird people that I follow, this weird combination. A program director at radio and TV would never put it together. But for me, that is exactly what I want to do. It's not TV. It's just about relevance. What is relevant to me.
So, in answer to your question, what is the next person... I was talking to... I don't know. I think, how do you... I'll ask you this. Where the fuck are all the new young people on radio?
Craig: Well, they're in regional radio at the moment. The problem with radio is, not the problem. The challenge for radio at the moment is in markets like Melbourne and Sydney and most of the metros, you need a profile and you need some familiarity to be able to at least start a connection with the audience. If you can be on a billboard and there's a portion of the audience that knows who that face is, then...
Jules: You're not going to get, I mean, look.
Craig: That's part of the issue.
Jules: Prime example. Every reality show has been, the reality shows have been brilliant because what they have done is that people like Fitzy and...
Craig: Chrissie Swan.
Jules: Chrissie Swan, and all of those guys. By the time they turn on radio, you already know who they are. They're part of your life. And you can visualise them. As we know, they've always been the best breeding ground because for you to take an unknown, it would take ten years or five years of crossing paths or catching them on something, or millions of dollars in billboards in order to just fast track it to where they're a reality star. And a prime example is Dan and Maz. We got replaced by Dan and Maz, and that to me was yes. Finally, we can... and at the time, the discussion was around Dobbo going, 'We're going to back young people and give them a voice'. But as we realised, was...
Craig: You've got to play a very long game that most regular companies can't.
Jules: It's a lot, it's a long game, and it's a visual game. If they can't visualise the two people, I think there's trouble. If they're not familiar. Because you're up against people that they've had in their life for 15, 20 years. It's tough. I totally understand it, and I understand exactly why you would give a Sam Frost a gig over someone who is potentially more experienced, seasoned, and more talented.
Craig: I look at people like Tanya Hennesy, who you would know. Em Rusciano is a great example of someone who has taken her own, created her own path through all of these different platforms, and has built herself up as a superstar, radio still a work in progress in terms of her getting the numbers, but stage shows, Instagram, Facebook, all content led. I think there are...
Jules: Familiarity. Literally.
Craig: So, she built her own familiarity through those platforms, so that can happen. But it's a safer bet for big media companies to...
Jules: I get it.
Craig: ... to go down a path where I know that person.
Jules: Yeah. And we saw it when that year, when Matt and Joe, Hughesie and Kate, Hamish and Andy, everyone just pulled out. It looked like Carl and Jack were going as well. I think it was 2014, right?
Craig: Yep. Start of.
Jules: Everyone just pulled out. And then all these networks, rather than filling them with the next tier, like the next generation, they just picked them up, spun them all around, put them on the other network, and then we went for another five or ten years. Offered them so much money. None of them wanted to do it. But now the radio stations are offering them so much money, because there's no alternative. And then we're now at another point where Hughesie and Kate might leave, Hamish and Andy, and I guarantee we won't be going 'Here's the next fresh faces', we'll be going back ten, fifteen years, and we'll be going to... we'll call the DJ and we'll call whoever, and we'll just go... which actually makes a bit of sense, I'll tell you why. Because the new audiences, like the ones that are staying true to radio, are those people that have loved all of those characters for decades. And it makes pure sense, because the new audiences are actually finding compelling reasons, or compelling talent, in other forms of media.
Craig: Yeah. It's a big challenge for the category, and it's one that we'll work our way through. But I don't think there's an easy and obvious solution in terms of bringing through new talent and...
Jules: No, look. To be honest, I trust... from you out of everyone, because I've watched you for two decades invest in younger people. Your content lab. You created hubs that you would nurture. And same as Sammy Cav. I've seen you guys looking for the next wave, so I get it. I know. But yeah, it's sad because you pushed and championed all those people, like Michael Beverage and all that, and pushed them into those spots, and then if it doesn't stick, then you're like...
Craig: Back to square one.
Craig: You know, when you get together with some people and they nourish you, and they fill you up, and when you walk away from whatever conversation you've had with them you always feel better? You're one of the very few people that always delivers on that for me. For as long as I've known you, I just love spending time with you, mate. And I appreciate you coming on the podcast, it's bloody been fantastic to talk about...
Jules: I thought you meant the fruit platter nourishes you, because I suppose all your guests lay out a fruit platter and a bowl of popcorn for you.
Craig: In their offices overlooking the park, all of them are doing as well as you are. But mate, it's always good to catch up. Thanks for coming on the podcast. We'll talk to you soon.
Jules: I love you, CB. Thank you, mate. That was how I was going to end that card. Can you write it for me? I don't have time, I've wasted enough time with you.