Stephanie Ridhalgh: Step(h) Abroad Interview

Stephanie Ridhalgh Interview

One night a couple of weeks ago whilst I was scrolling through a feed full of miserable ‘I don’t want to go back to school’ statuses on Facebook, I came across an article that was shared by a friend called ‘Date a Girl that Travels‘ and I was immediately intrigued.  This article is now one of my all time favourite articles and I thought could not be a better description of myself. However I was wrong, yes – the article is one of my favourite articles but I found an even better description of myself and the person I want to be – the incredible author of this story!

Stephanie Ridhalgh was born in Sydney, Australia, however spent her young years growing up in London and Boston. She graduated from The University of New South Wales with a double degree in journalism and communication (First similarity: my aspiring degree) and until most recently worked as a field producer for Australia’s top breakfast show – Sunrise (Second similarity: I am aspiring to walk in the broadcasting industry). She has now made the huge leap of moving to the place where dreams are made of – New York City (Yes – this is also the place I would like to live) and is now embracing the Manhattan lifestyle!

From the love of travel to the same university degree to broadcasting to New York City, there is no way I could resist being able to talk to this amazing person (because lets face it, we are basically long lost twins)! Today Steph shared her insights into making the most of your 24 hours, travel, the journalism and broadcasting industry and what it is really like to live in the Big Apple!

How do you make the most of your 24 hours each day?

Steph – I have lately been trying to teach myself to enjoy the time and place I am in rather then thinking to the next thing. You don’t always have to be on the go 24/7 but as long as you are taking in the moment then you are making the most of your time wisely.

What did you aspire to do in high school and how has it changed since then?

Steph – Growing up I was convinced I was going to be a singer, dancer and actress. Yeah right! During high school I never could pinpoint a specific career and even took a gap year to figure it out. I guess something in the media/entertainment industry was always on the cards. But this is the great thing about my generation. The baby boomers and Gen Xer’s picked careers and stayed in it for 40 years. My generation will see themselves use skills in a more dynamic way in a broader spectrum.

What is your favorite travel quote?

Steph – “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer”

What is on the top of your bucket list?

Steph – I would love to see Cuba while it still remains freeze-framed in a time capsule.
There’s something appealing about the retro style layered with cigars, classic cocktails and old colorful cars. It’s full of rich culture, history and Spanish architecture. It is one of the places left in the world yet to tainted by consumerism.

What are your top 5 tips towards travel journalism?

Steph –

  • Be passionate.
  • Ask yourself. “Will this help others?” “Is it interesting”? There is no point posting just for the sake it.
  • Talk and live with the locals. You will find the best stories there.
  • Even though some of the best stories are the ones you least expect, always have some idea on your angle so you leave with adequate footage and vision to supplement your videos or writing.
  • Be confident, don’t be afraid and trust your ideas

What are your top 5 tips towards broadcasting journalism?

Steph –

  • Work experience. Most places offer 1 or 2 weeks intensive. Ask if you can continue after the program 1-2 days a week. This way if an entry-level position opens up, you have shown your dedication and willingness to work.
  • Pay your dues. I started working as a Production Assistant on the studio floor rolling Autocue for 3 years 4-7 days week during University. I was starting as 4am and then going upstairs to editorial to do work experience from 12pm- 5pm. You will always have to pay your dues. I am still doing it now.
  • Always look for stories. For example read newspapers and ask yourself how would you turn that into a TV segment, who would you interview, what would you ask?
  • Try all different aspects. If you are able to land work experience at a Network, see if you can do some work in the studio, in the control room, with producers, in the field, in the library. You might find what you love is not initially what you thought you would be. There are many more jobs in Broadcast Journalism than reporting and presenting.
  • Perfect your art. At the beginning of your career there is always going to be a gap between your skill and production. And proofread (Something I am guilty of not doing sometimes).

As a field producer at Sunrise, what was your ‘normal’ workday?

Steph – I can safely say that the only thing ‘normal’ is that it’s never the same. There are lots of flights, coffee, early mornings, and technical glitches. But nonetheless, we all manage to have fun.

As the weekend weather field producer I was away most weekends in different locations in Australia and sometime internationally. The first half of the week was spent planning logistics alongside Tourism Boards or PR as well as booking flights, accommodation and crews. We usually travel as a team of 5, leaving on Friday, which leaves enough time to test and prep for the next morning. Then its go-time Saturday morning. We are all up at the crack of dawn and it’s non-stop repositioning the cameras, finding local talent and covering social media until 10am.

What are your plans now that you are in New York City?

Steph – I am hoping to get as much as I can out of this city in every aspect. I would love to work somewhere I will develop my craft, live in an area that I love to walk in, play somewhere new each weekend and eat as much food as possible.

Where is your favorite area of New York City and why?

Steph – Where do you start? It’s so convenient and gratifying to walk this city and see each area’s little idiosyncrasies. I do gravitate uptown to Central Park quite often. It’s a perfect sanctuary anytime of the year. But I also love the melting pot that is downtown and the choice you have for cafes. There is always something to discover anywhere in New York.

What are the pros and cons towards living and working in NYC?

Steph – I knew I wanted to live in this city since my first trip at 8 years old. I loved the hustle and bustle. I loved the people you would meet who immediate became your best friend and told you their whole life story while you wait for your bagel and schmear. That being said, if there is somewhere you believe you want to live, I suggest visiting a couple times. It took me the 3rd or 4th time to take off my rose tinted glasses and see both the good and the not so good and still know this was where I was meant to be.

I have loved every minute of being here so far but it can be a tough run setting yourself up to live and work in New York. Australians need to be sponsored which can be an expensive and time-consuming feat.
The rental system is very different here to say the less and requires a lot of money upfront.

But this is what makes the experience; the small struggle only makes us stronger. And once it’s all said and done and you have a job that pays, maybe not well, but it pays and you can enjoy everything this great city has to offer.

Just remember to pack endless motivation, gumption and money. Lots of it!

Find Steph!





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