I have been a radio nerd for as long as I can remember. I even had my own short-lived segment on The Hamish & Andy Show when I was 12 called “Mitch’s Wise Words” after calling up and making a ridiculous joke. I did my first live cross to Hamish and Andy at my swimming carnival – which I was ecstatic about because it meant I didn’t have to do the relay.
I only went on twice or three times, but as a kid in the playground, that was huge.
I officially started in radio when I was 20, after moving back from New York City where I studied improv and theatre. I got a job on the KIIS street team, driving the cars, giving out cans of Coke and talking to listeners.
Two weeks in, I started doing funny Snapchat stories at the events, and it turned out one of the producers was watching me and laughing from the studio. The content director overheard her and asked to meet me.
They took me up to what we call “the pit” – a ring of chairs where all the producers surround Kyle and Jackie O’s studio like an aquarium. I walk in and the content director says to me, “So you think you’re pretty funny, do you? Why don’t you be a rooster for all of us?”
My mentality has always been, say yes to everything. It’s probably got me in a lot of trouble, but it’s what I do. So there, in front of all of these people I was terrified of, I squatted to my knees, propped my arms behind my back and started clucking. I knew this was my moment – it might not have looked like it, but I was right.
I got a call a week later and they asked me to be the “Cash Cock”. I had no idea what it meant and neither did they. They said, “We’re going to strap money to you.” I thought, great. They said, “You’re going to be tackled to the ground by tradespeople.” I thought, where do I sign? They said, “You might end up in hospital.” I thought, fantastic – which hospital?
So, just like Brad Pitt (who had a job as a chicken mascot for a restaurant in Los Angeles before he became famous), I got my start dressing like a chicken. But I still wanted my own show and I was willing to do whatever it took.
When you walk into a radio studio, it looks like an A380 cockpit. I had no idea how to use a radio panel, so I took a photo of one, blew it up into a poster and laminated it. I would sit at home on my bed and pretend I was on air, tracing it with my fingers so I could memorise what all the buttons did.
After doing my full-day street-team shifts, I spent a month going into the studio until 9pm every night to practise recording segments. My hard work paid off; three years later I got my own show, Mitch To Midnight.
As a kid, all I wanted was a radio show with my name in the title, and I’ve already done it. But I’m not putting my feet up. There are days when I finish work at midnight and I’m back in there at 5am – and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
My next dream is to have a late-night variety television show, like James Corden. All Australia needs is a host who’s charming, has great hair, is slightly chubby and looks good in a suit – which is the only thing I look good in, if it has a girdle. I tick all of the boxes.
KIIS Nights With Mitch To Midnight airs weeknights from 9pm across Australia on the KIIS Network.
Originally published as ‘Like Brad Pitt, I got my start dressing like a chicken’