What’s up with Bryce Mills?
Bryce Mills


What’s up with Bryce Mills?

March 4, 2021

Genuine, amiable and the right kind of cheeky, triple j’s latest Breakfast host and MQ Media graduate Bryce Mills doesn’t just embody the maxim of following your dreams, he’s backed it up with hard work and persistence to make a high school ambition come true.

There’s a great story doing the rounds of Bryce Mills declaring in a high school maths class that he was going to be a breakfast presenter on triple j. ‘That’s not a puff quote, that’s for real,’ he says with a laugh.

And while Bryce may well have achieved his youthful dream, anyone who has attained real success knows it rarely happens overnight or due to luck alone. It could be added that a single focus and a certain amount of tenacity – also known as dogged determination in the face of evidence to the contrary – is also required.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. Who is this boy from the Central Coast, and how did he make good on such a cocky assertion? He has a Bachelor of Arts (Media) 2016 from Macquarie University, but that’s only part of the story too.

Laidback and cheerful, Bryce makes you feel like he has all the time in the world to talk with you. He starts by explaining, without pretence, ‘I was the class clown, but the teachers respected me. I was Head Boy and did the work, so contributed enough academically to get away with it, but I definitely had a problem with talking too much and distracting people.’

Not surprisingly, the jokes he made in class were well-timed, and he had supportive friends to not just try out his humour on, but who encouraged him to pursue his dreams. ‘They helped shape who I am,’ says Bryce. ‘And my cousin Gabby listened to me for hours; I used to try my jokes out on her.’

The Central Coast wasn’t somewhere with multiple outlets for comedy, but Bryce does remember listening to triple j and watching ABC comedy DVDs: ‘I started to think, this must be a thing.’

Then there was the national secondary school comedy competition, Class Clown, which his Society and Culture teacher encouraged him to take part in at 17. ‘He could tell where I was heading and believed in me early; I was grateful for that.’

And so, this natural tendency for comedy turned into ‘tunnel vision’ in high school, but the question of where to next loomed large. Confused and looking for advice, Bryce reached out to a family friend, a sports journalist and presenter. His advice was to choose a university that was hands on, so when Bryce turned up to the open day at Macquarie University, everything fell into place.

‘They showed us the 2SER Macquarie radio studio and where they had the cameras for the film production unit. I remember thinking, this is legit. It was so cool. I knew then I’d be getting hands-on experience. Getting a taste of everything was appealing too – I didn’t want to do a straight degree where I couldn’t branch out into anything else.’

After first year, which was pretty theory-based, Bryce says: ‘I was able to develop my technical skills and do things like make full feature audio pieces, work in Pro Tools, edit, and develop my ear for radio. The lecturers and tutors like Helene Thomas were incredible, and I made friendships with people I still work with – when you’re filming til 2 am, and you’re losing your mind, it really brings you together!’

But it was 2SER that was really pivotal to his university experience. ‘I had wanted to do community radio since I was at school, so at O Week, I went straight to the 2SER stand. They don’t usually let first years apply, but they could see I was keen!’

He started immediately, and says it is ‘without a doubt’ what led him to triple j. ‘It gave me a base from which to quickly rise up the ranks. I was actually on air – it’s a legit radio station – and was allowed to try stuff and learn from my mistakes. I was a solo presenter so just had to figure it out.’

And figure it out, he did. ‘There’s that instinct to perform. People can sense when it’s not coming naturally, and I had to learn to turn it down. After hours and hours on air, I’ve found my level. It takes time to find your voice; that’s why 2SER was so valuable.’

Still, there’s no blueprint for getting a start in media. ‘The big jobs don’t just fall in your lap. You’ve got to be doing something all the time – make radio, do comedy, just try something. Too many people want a quick ticket, but if you’re genuinely keen, people will help you.’

There’s an element of timing and good fortune too: ‘By chance, someone I knew from Macquarie posted a job at the ABC. It was pretty vague, but I was like, let me at it. I ended up doing a few roles – business admin for the radio unit, and reception at Radio National and 702.

‘I kept sending demos, asking for feedback, and learning the studio. I’d come in early and watch Ben and Liam, and then after reception I’d stay back and watch Bridget Hustwaite host Good Nights – I wanted to absorb as much knowledge as I could.

‘After that position ended – and about eight months of calling and emailing – I got a mid-dawn spot a couple of nights a week from 1 til 6 am. I was so hungry. When I found out, I burst into tears; it meant a lot.’

That was the beginning of it all for Bryce, and though it may sound like a pretty straightforward trajectory, the reality is, it takes a lot of will to keep going for so long in the face of rejection. ‘Even people I was close to were like, dude, read the writing on the wall; they’re not interested. Find something else, move on.’

Instead, he kept taking every opportunity he could. Finally, a stint hosting Summer Drive over 2019/20, Weekend Afternoons in 2020 and other fill-ins led to cross-overs on- and off-air with Ebony Boadu, who had started at the ABC at the same time.

‘She made me a lot more spontaneous and in the moment; she brought out a good side of me. It was fun, and my boss liked what he was hearing so we did the Hottest 200 together, and every Drive and Breakfast fill-in for 2020.’

And from there, it was a hop, skip and a jump to the Breakfast spot. ‘I don’t think anyone could have predicted the timing or how quickly it happened,’ says Bryce, clearly thrilled. ‘That’s what’s beautiful about it (and what used to stress me out) – it’s youth radio; I only had so much time to make this happen.’

But some things in life you just have to grab with both hands. And to be fair, it’s been ten years in the making. That kid who used to make his peers laugh in high school has spent a long time finding his voice, connecting with his audience, and perfecting his craft – long after many others would have given up.

‘It takes real mental strength to trust yourself and be patient, but you can’t put a price on following your dreams.’

Words: Megan English

Comment (1)

  1. Anthony Lanati

    Great piece that illustrates how important the practical aspects of an MQ degree are! There are loads of parallels between Bryce using 2SER to find his feet and geologists like me who need to get out into the field and see the rocks to find their groove! I hope these kind of practical education experiences continue to be the backbone of MQ’s pedagogy


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