AWARD-WINNERS: Mildura breakfast radio duo Amber Wheatland and Michael Billings, AKA ‘Amber and ‘Billows’’, were named Best Country On Air Team at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards over the weekend. Photo: PAUL MENSCH
BREAKFAST radio buds ‘Amber and Billows’ are favourites on our airwaves, and the critics agree with our sentiments.
Amber Wheatland, 26, and Michael Billings, 33 — the popular morning duo on Mildura’s 99.5 Hit FM — were named ‘Best Country On Air Team’ at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards over the weekend.
It was the third time the local hosts had been nominated for the award in the four years they have teamed up in local broadcasting.
To actually take home the prize, however, was unexpected for the Southern Cross Austereo pair.
“It was a big surprise,” ‘Billows’ said. “It was enough of an honour for us to just have been nominated for the award.”
“We were in a room full of our radio idols, and we were just busy mingling about and getting pictures with some of our heroes,” Amber admitted.
“It was the last award of the night, and it had been an awesome event, so this really just topped it off.”
Radio teams from across the country submitted their own 60 second clips from the past 12 months.
In the world of broadcasting, teams don’t always stay together long term, which is testament to the bond and product the pair have produced since 2013.
Both have worked in radio for six years, Amber coming through the ranks in her home town, while ‘Billows’, a Hopetoun local, made the huge move to Broome, Western Australia, to broadcast for two years before returning to Victoria.
“To pack up and move to the other side of the country was a huge decision,” he said.
“I was always looking for a way to get back home, and the opportunity came to work in Mildura, which is just as good as being back home.”
When asked what made them such a good team, both responded that their partnership was like a “work marriage”.
“I think we have really good chemistry, and I think that comes through to the listeners,” ‘Billows’ said.
“It helps that we’re good mates and enjoy each other’s company,” Amber said.
“I don’t think you can put together a good program and spend so many hours together in a small room if you don’t get along. Hopefully the listeners get that sense too.
“The majority of feedback is really positive. If we get good feedback we really try to pinpoint what they think we are doing well and continue to do those things.
“Everything we do is all about the listener. The listeners are the most important people and everything we do is with the aim of pleasing them and giving them enjoyment and entertainment.”
The duo thanked listeners from across the region for their support, as well as Southern Cross Austereo for their backing.
“This award isn’t just about us, it’s on behalf of everyone who is a part of the team here,” ‘Billows’ said.