HOW I MAKE IT WORK... TV host Marc Fennell on putting his family first.
WHEN HIS FLOURISHING CAREER BEGAN TO TAKE A TOLL ON HIS FAMILY LIFE, THE 31-YEAR-OLD TV AND RADIO PRESENTER DECIDED TO CHANGE DIRECTION AND FOLLOW A PATH CLOSE TO HIS HEART
When I was 15, I turned on the radio, heard Triple J for the first time and was obsessed. From that point, the only thing I wanted was to be their on-air film reviewer.
That dream came true. When I heard my voice on radio? Oh, my god. It was just a two-minute segment, but knowing it reached nearly three million people multiple times a week meant so much.
Soon I was desperate to branch out. I also wanted to write books, mount a comedy show and find my way to TV. In 2009, they all happened. Then I asked my now-wife, Madeleine, to marry me.
I met Madeleine when I was 17. We were working in community radio. She was a producer then and now – not to mention an amazing manager. How she handles our lives leaves me in awe. She’s the executive producer of our lives.
I kept getting work: I launched a new ABC radio program in 2012. The following year, SBS came along with a hosting gig on The Feed. My wife was not wild about the impact nightly TV would have on us. It is a big lifestyle change, but professionally speaking it was worth it; the show went on to be nominated for Walkley Awards and Logies.
In 2014, our son came along in the midst of the madness. As parents who were used to working – a lot – things were hard. Then came our daughter, Sophie, who’s now 10 months old.
It finally became evident about a year ago that something had to give for the sake of family; months before I made the decision to wrap up my time with Triple J, Madeleine and I were broaching the idea. It took me a long time to come to terms with who I might be away from my job there – a decade on, it had come to define me. But I came to realise that one more night spent working at Triple J meant one more night spent away from my kids.
Changing my career led to a change in my interests, too. I’m now part of Media
Diversity Australia, a not-for-profit with the goal of helping the Australian media look more like its public. When I was growing up, nobody on mainstream TV looked like me except for [news presenter] Indira Naidoo. I don’t want to be the guy whingeing about the problem anymore. I want to help find solutions. Look at it this way: I spent enough time as a critic. Now I’d rather be someone who constructs.