Building The Thinkergirls brand has come with its own trials for its two members, Stacey June and Kristie Mercer. The online sensations-turned-KIIS network radio presenters recently celebrated their 200th show on ARN.
“I moved into a garage,” June told Mediaweek.
“It was a very nice garage,” Mercer added, smiling. “But still a garage, nonetheless.”
“It was tough – four bean mix and tuna were all I was eating,” June said. “Now, I can add avocado to that, so it’s quite happy days for me!
“It was a tricky time. It was challenging personally for me as well.”
The Thinkergirls came to life when June and Mercer met for the first time at a radio boot camp. It started off as a long-distance relationship.
“The main joy now is that we are in the same building every day. It was often hard before, because we were still building this [The Thinkergirls] interstate,” June recalled.
“We were actually in a long-distance relationship that was kept afloat via Skype and random trips on the weekends,” Mercer said.
“And we still did demo shows and podcasts every week,” June added.
“There were a lot of reasons for it not to work in terms of financials and distance,” Mercer said, “but there was never really a time in either of our minds where it seemed like a chore or it seemed hard or we didn’t want to do it. We just kept working, because we knew there was going to be something that clicked.”
Landing a show at KIIS Network was a dream that June and Mercer had been working towards. They are very clear in saying it’s not something that’s happened through sheer luck.
“We built it with a clear intention of it being a business, as well as a content [brand]. We knew that content creation, online portals, radio and everything like that were soon going to marry,” Mercer said. “It was a real strategic decision to then take that into video and expand the brand. That was all in the effort to build up enough following to get a radio show. That was always our dream.
“We understood that without a profile that was going to be tricky. It might seem like we landed into it accidentally, but we had a plan.”
Their pitch for a show on radio had been knocked back multiple times before they finally got the job to host the 7pm-9pm timeslot on the KIIS Network from Monday to Friday. The Thinkergirls credited KIIS Sydney and Melbourne content director Derek Bargwanna for giving them a break on metro commercial radio as on-air presenters in 2016.
“We knew there was something more there than a podcast,” June said. “It wasn’t just us – there were people listening too. This was without any PR, money, properly built website and photoshoots. It was raw.
“We were told a few times that it’s not a radio show or that it won’t fit the mould that was there. But we knew deep down that we were onto something here and we had to keep going irrespective of what we are being told by the big guys who make the decisions. That can be a scary thing,” June said. “He [Bargwanna] saw in us something different. He’s been a big supporter, cheerleader and a platform builder for us.”
June and Mercer describe The Thinkergirls as “a multifaceted brand”. They currently have three podcasts, a video series and a radio show.
Talking about their podcast ventures, Mercer said: “It was a funny thing having that podcast to be what it was and the reason it began. It was all the things that we couldn’t talk about on our radio show, that we could talk about on the podcast.
“We never really thought that this radio show we were aiming for would be the exact kind of content that we would’ve been able to do.
“For a long time we were told that this would be separate. But KIIS has been really supportive in embracing all of the colours of our show. The podcast doesn’t offer more or less than the radio show. The podcasts just offer more of an extended and intimate chat, which you can’t do on a commercial radio show. What you get on the radio show that we are really proud of is that we don’t have to leave anything at the door. It’s all about the kinds of conversation that are on our minds in that day.”
The Thinkergirls describe the two hours on air at KIIS as a “reality show” on radio.
“The whole show is our vision through our eyes,” Mercer said.
The Thinkergirls appeal
The name of the duo would imply that the content produced by June and Mercer is aimed at women. However, that is not the case, they said.
“A lot of people might not know this, but the only other woman in our team is our producer. The rest is a team of blokes,” June said, laughing.
Mercer said, “I almost feel like sometimes there are more male callers on the show than there are females. Maybe girls are more voyeuristic about it, whereas the dudes are excited about the opportunity to be invited into that conversation…This is because we are so encouraging. Because our mates are mates, whether you are a guy or a girl, gay or straight, a dad or a 15-year-old, we talk to everybody the same.”