Respected radio presenter, current affairs journalist and political correspondent, Fran Kelly hosts RN Breakfast and co-hosts The Party Room podcast with Patricia Karvelas.
Though Fran has become a feature of the ABC’s coverage of local and world affairs on both radio and television, her career may well have taken a very different direction; after studying arts at Adelaide University, majoring in literature and classics, Fran became part of the Adelaide and Melbourne music scenes at the end of the 1970s.
She was the singer for several bands, most notably an all-girl new wave band, Toxic Shoc, and worked as the Activities Director for Adelaide’s Flinders University. She moved to Melbourne to take up the post of Entertainment Director for La Trobe University, booking some of biggest bands of the day including Simple Minds, Hunters and Collectors, Cold Chisel and Icehouse. She regularly packed out the 2,500 capacity venue and was also responsible for one of the first gigs by INXS – at a time when people weren’t even sure how to say their name.
Her change of tack into current affairs journalism had its seeds in her first foray into radio. In 1984 Fran worked on Melbourne RRR’s Backchat program, which featured women’s current affairs, issues and talkback. The experience sparked a desire to embark on a new career.
An unlikely application for a senior current affairs position with the ABC turned out to be her lucky break; though she didn’t get the job, Fran was eventually called back to fill in for a few weeks. Then in 1988, she was invited to take up a three month position in Sydney with The Drum, the current affairs program of the ABC’s youth radio station, triple j.
Her talent for current affairs was soon spotted by other departments at the ABC and after 18 months, Fran moved to work on ABC Radio’s flagship current affairs programs AM and PM, heard then, as now, across Australia via ABC Local Radio and ABC RN.