“There’s a saying that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s been the case for me for close to 20 years!”
Jane Gazzo is like a poster child for the phrase ‘living the dream’. She’s spent years working in the music business, contributing to the holy grail of music criticism, Q Magazine, as a teenager, and later becoming a reliable presence in Australian media through her extended stints with triple j, Channel [V] and long-defunct sentimental favourite, the ABC’s cult Saturday morning program Recovery. She’s interviewed acts like Sonic Youth, Queens Of The Stone Age, Arctic Monkeys, Lady Gaga, Jessie J and the Strokes without visibly fanning out (a notable achievement), and is currently the host of Music MAX program “Guess The Theme”.
How the heck did she wrangle it? We caught up with Jane to go back to the beginning of her charmed career which started at La Trobe University in Melbourne…
Can you tell us a little bit about the Arts, Media and Cinema degree you studied at La Trobe, why you chose to study that particular field and why you chose to study there? I always knew from a young age that I wanted to do something in the media field so when I was in Year 12 I started looking at uni courses I could apply for. I remember the course offered at La Trobe was the most appealing to me because it covered all aspects of media from radio and video production to advertising and editorial. That coupled with the fact I could also study cinema and drama to complete my BA made the course even more irresistible.
What are the things you learned there that you continue to use today? I would have to say everything I learnt at La Trobe during my three years studying there I’ve used or put into action in some way, shape or form during my career. It was a course that gave me a solid foundation in media knowledge and appreciation. The best thing about my BA, however, was when I applied for an on-air music journalist role at the BBC in London. As soon as I told them I had a degree from La Trobe I was pretty much in the door – it was the clincher. True story.
What is your advice for recent graduates looking to break into the entertainment industry? When you can’t find work – go for work experience! I can’t stress the importance of work experience enough! Yes, it can be boring, unpaid and menial work sometimes, but if you want to get ahead and get in the door and make valuable contacts in the industry, as well as learning the ropes then it is an option that is seriously worth thinking about.
What surprised you most about university? How much fun I had and how quickly the three years flew by! I made some wonderful lifelong friends and I was taught by some pretty amazingly inspiring tutors. University definitely fuelled a lot of my ambitions. I had a sense I could be anyone and do anything.
You’ve done some pretty crazy things, what has been the most surreal moment of your career? Finding myself broadcasting literally in the Queen’s backyard! I was working for a commercial radio station and they were hosting a charity celebration for the Queen’s Jubilee at Buckingham Palace in 2002. I was a chosen reporter. The Queen walked right past me and I still regret not saying “Good Morning, Your Highness” or initiating some kind of conversation, but I was totally star struck!
What was the most challenging moment of your career? One of the biggest challenges I’ve ever had to face was deciding to leave Triple J when I did. I was there for four years and loved every minute of it but I had this massive desire to travel and work abroad. I was in my early 20’s and the world was calling me. It was so difficult to walk away at the time but it was the right decision in hindsight. I’m a big believer in fate and the skills I learnt and the experiences I’ve had overseas have helped further shape me and my career in incredibly positive ways.
What is the most rewarding aspect of the work that you do? I love the people I meet and hearing their stories. Everyone has a story and when you’re able to draw it out of them, it’s hugely rewarding. Also doing what I love every day. There’s a saying that when you love what you do, you never work a day in your life. That’s been the case for me for close to 20 years! I’ve made a living from talking about music and interviewing musicians and the wonderful thing is it’s never felt like a real job. It’s a joy to wake up in the morning and go to work.
Finally, what do you wish you knew in Uni that you knew now? That the time passes so quickly! My uni days seem like they went for 3 seconds, not three years!
Jane Gazzo hosts on “Guess The Theme”, Mondays at 9.30pm on MAX (FOXTEL). Because we really like lists we also asked her to tell us her top five quintessential MAX videos. Take it away, Jane…
1. Dead or Alive – You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)
No matter how many times I watch this video I never tire of it. It’s Pete Burns at his beautiful best before he underwent the hideous plastic surgery and completely changed his face.

2. James Freud – Modern Girl
This is possibly one of the most under-rated Australian pop songs of the 1980’s from a star we lost too soon. Freud would later go on to join The Models and pen hits such as ‘Barbados’ and ‘Out of Mind, Out of Sight’ but this is seriously pop perfection for me.

3. Johnny Cash – Hurt
This is a great example of where the cover version is better than the original. The song and the video are just tearjerkingly beautiful.

4. David Bowie – Ashes to Ashes
A classic video that has stood the test of time. David Mallet has directed some amazing videos in his career including ‘Lets Dance’ for Bowie in the Australian desert and Queen’s ‘Radio GaGa’ but this is my absolute favourite.

5. INXS – Never Tear Us Apart
Directed by Melbourne film-maker Richard Lowenstein and shot in Prague at the height of INXS’s career. This is where the song and video together are a marriage made in heaven. It’s Hutchence at his smoldering, sexy best in a city steeped in beauty and history.