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Keeping it Real with Meghan Kelly
Meghan Kelly is a familiar voice on The Beat 92.5 and
currently hosts no less than four of her own radio shows. She found a way to blend
together her biggest passions like communicating and music. Though Kelly may
have a glamorous job, she always finds a way to keep it real and be herself. When
she’s not on the air, she can be found playing soccer or at home in her sweats
watching reruns of Golden Girls.
The Early Years
Kelly was born and raised in the West Island. Both her parents came from a large family and grew up in busy households, so they made the conscious choice to only have one child. That gave them the opportunity to shower their daughter with their undivided attention and unconditional love. To this day, Kelly remains very close to them. “My parents are my best friends,” she says. “They’re my biggest fans and the best advice givers.”
As a child, Kelly had an easy going temperament, though she experienced bouts of anxiety early on. When it was time to make the leap to daycare, she suffered from separation anxiety and refused to leave the warm embrace of her parents. Luckily, members of her extended family stepped up to the plate and took her in Monday to Friday during the day while Kelly’s parents were at work. In this sense, she was co-raised by her aunt, uncle and grandmother. They became her daycare, and provided support, entertainment, and education until Kindergarten. This experience further solidified her family bonds.
A Dream Taking Flight
As she grew up, Kelly dreamed of working in media. In fact, she had a very specific goal: to be the next Jennifer Hedger. Hedger is a Canadian television personality who was also a pioneer at the time, co-hosting sports news programs on TSN. Kelly found herself glued to the television whenever Hedger came on, and was even more motivated to pursue her dream.
She vividly recalls several instances in elementary school when asked what she wanted to be when she grew up. Without hesitation, Kelly announced she wanted to be on television. She wasn’t overly interested in academic disciplines like math or geography; she cultivated her gift for public speaking instead. A self-proclaimed chatterbox, Kelly thrived on interacting with others and making them feel comfortable.
In CEGEP, she followed the Creative Arts program on the media broadcasting side. She took courses in television, radio and journalism, and fell even more in love with this craft. When she graduated CEGEP, she caught her first big break. The Beat 92.5 hired her for their promotions department. At the age of nineteen, she found herself out and about, promoting the station. She then attended Concordia University to earn a Bachelor’s degree in journalism, with an audiovisual speciality. After this, she received a Graduate diploma in communications.
Life at The Beat 92.5
Fresh out of school, she continued her promotions job at The Beat 92.5. And then, she got the opportunity of a lifetime. The executives noticed her charisma and offered her some short snippets on the air. She accepted with enthusiasm and had her first on-air experience. She impressed the executives and they asked her to fill in for a morning show for a few weeks. Things snowballed from there; she was offered a Friday night traffic spot and then filled in for co-workers over the holidays where she was trained and coached by the best in the industry. In 2018, she hosted her own show for the first time.
Today, Kelly hosts four different shows at The Beat 92.5: The Friday Beatmix, The Saturday Party Jam, The Saturday Beatmix, and the Canadian Hit 20. In addition, she also fills in elsewhere as needed. “It’s a busy schedule,” admits Kelly. “But I really can’t complain. I have the opportunity to not only do what I feel passion for, but I also work with veterans like Cat Spencer. I grew up listening to him and now I get to work alongside him and learn from him.”
The Nature of Live Radio
On any given day, Kelly finds herself often alone in a secluded room talking to roughly 30,000 people live. That number can seem daunting, but Kelly doesn’t see it that way. For her, it’s a privilege to be able to do what she loves. Kelly also employs an interesting strategy where she imagines she’s speaking to one person as opposed to 30,000. She makes it personal and speaks to them directly as an individual.
For Kelly, live radio is fun and exhilarating. Sure, the possibilities for errors are endless, but it’s just a part of the job. And now that she’s been at it for a while, she’s grown comfortable with it. That doesn’t mean she strives for perfection, because that’s not reality. Everyone stumbles and blunders in regular life, and this also applies to being live on the air. In fact, this margin of error gives broadcasters a certain authenticity. It makes them a little more human, which is something listeners can easily relate to.
The Power of Connection
Kelly counts her blessings because The Beat 92.5’s listeners are extremely dedicated and loyal. While on the air, she receives a multitude of texts and phone calls, some simply asking how her day is going or sharing something about themselves. This is one of her favourite parts of her job where she can connect to her audience directly. These texts brighten up her day and keep her company, especially on week-ends where she finds herself alone in a huge building.
“People really do care,” Kelly says. “I often get amazed that in this busy world, people reach out and want to chat with us on a personal level. That alone makes what I do worthwhile. If I can connect with just one person and make their day better, then my job is done!” It’s especially gratifying to be able to lift someone’s spirits when they’re having a bad day or facing a challenge. In this sense, she’s very much a part of her listeners’ world and vice versa.
This sense of connection also extends to her colleagues at The Beat 92.5, whom she refers to as her extended family. Kelly was literally a teenager when she was first brought on board and has grown up with them ever since. Her co-workers are supportive rather than competitive, and have always gone out of their way to give her a helping hand when needed.
On Dealing with Anxiety
Maintaining a balanced mental health is critical for everyone, especially in a fast-paced environment like live radio. When you meet Kelly, she’s friendly and social, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t struggle with mental health. Kelly suffers from generalized anxiety disorder. She’s a compulsive thinker, and even just one bad thought, whether real or imagined, can severely derail her. When she finally manages to let go of that particular thought, another one creeps in. It can be relentless.
She marvels at anyone who’s able to cope with this kind of extreme mental fatigue. When you’re immersed in an internal battle 24 hours a day yet continue to function, it really speaks to the strength of the human being. Kelly is learning to navigate her way through her own personal battle, and is happy to be vocal about it. The goal is to inspire others with similar issues and raise awareness.
Instead of focusing on the negative, Kelly is learning the power of gratitude. She feels privileged to be able to do what she loves, and makes a conscious effort to be transparent about everything, from the good to the bad. At the end of the day, Kelly has an optimistic attitude. Her motto in life revolves around the idea that it doesn’t cost you anything to be kind to people. It’s about being authentic, plain and simple. “I strive to be the exact same person on the air as I am in person,” Kelly says. “I want to be a role model for others and remind them that they don’t have to change themselves to get their dream job. My advice is to be true to yourself, because you are enough.”
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