By Becky Benoit
When you’re sitting in traffic, wondering why the cars ahead of you are stopped dead bumper-to-bumper,unsure of whether to pack sunblock or a rain poncho on your weekend camping trip or curious about where to take the kids for a fun afternoon out, Amanda Purcell, as the news director for KROCK may just be the voice you’re listening to on the radio.
For the past five years, Purcell has worn a number of hats, including that of morning show co-host for Mix103.7, marketing and events coordinator for MacDonald Island Park, and fund development and communications director for Girls Inc of Northern Alberta.
While Purcell says she can’t remember a defining moment when she decided that radio was the career for her, she recalls being drawn to the medium from a young age. “I was four or five years old, had a very active imagination and a dual-cassette deck radio that could record my voice to tape, and I used it in the privacy of my bedroom with the door closed, so as to eliminate as much embarrassment as possible,” Purcell recalls with a chuckle.
Her career began more as an experiment than a chosen path. “I stumbled upon radio. I had applied to be a web content manager at my first radio station because I didn’t think I’d have a shot at anything else,” Purcell recalls wryly. Her first assignments weren’t exactly the stuff of ‘hard news’ but Purcell pursued them with her trademark enthusiasm nonetheless.
“I was just thrilled to get to work a microphone, read news on the air – even if it was recorded and I wasn’tallowed to go live – and get to hang out with people who had been doing radio for ten-plus years and were considered to be icons in our little town,” she remembers.
Today, Purcell admits that it hasn’t always been an easy road to travel. “Something they don’t tell you is howdifficult radio can be for women in the business, because it’s been an ‘old boys’ club’ for a long time,” Purcell says when speaking of one of her heroes, the first woman to call a WHL game in 2004. “Women like Sarina Mytopher help us break that glass ceiling little by little. She is absolutely an inspiration to me.”
She credits Fort McMurray with her success, helping her gain a foothold in the world of radio. “Fort McMurray is the place I learned about marketing, how to be an event planner, a morning show co-host and news director, a women’s rights advocate, and about true friendship and love,” Purcell says with characteristic eloquence.
“I gave my twenties to Fort McMurray, and it gave me a whole lot back in return.”