A voice for women
Bubbly, down-to-earth and unabashedly honest, Jess Eva has made a name for herself on the Sunshine Coast as an announcer on 91.9 Sea FM. Now, the outspoken mum-of-two is lending her familiar voice to an important cause and helping to empower other women.
“I feel like I’m scamming my fellow mums a little bit at the moment,” laughs Jess, “Can you please just point out that this is not my life – I don’t sit around in a clean house with my hair and make-up done, and I bought all these flowers from Woolies last night to jazz up the place.”
As Jess Eva jokes about her busy and typically much messier home life as the working mother of two children under the age of four, it’s obvious why the cheeky and laid back radio host has become such a beloved figure on the Sunshine Coast. As one half of 91.9 Sea FM’s hugely successful breakfast program BarRat and Jess, the highly relatable and unapologetically honest announcer has made it her mission to help other local women realise it’s okay to not be perfect, and that being average or different is in fact normal and nothing to be ashamed of.
I think it’s so vital, especially for young women, to not worry so much about what people say and do, and just immerse themselves in their own passions.”
It’s a lesson she’s had to learn first hand, but her colourful life is something Jess has now fully embraced and often shares with others over the airwaves.
A former Australian champion in lawn bowls, Jess had an unconventional start in radio in 2006 in her hometown of Tatura, Victoria, choosing to “give it a crack” after she failed to qualify for the Commonwealth Games.
“At that time, I had the choice of either going to work out in the tomato fields or trying out radio,” she laughs. “I was so shy and insecure; I still am insecure. But I just gave it a go and it was one of the best things I could have done.
“You have no option but to have faith in yourself because you’re continually getting feedback. It took me ages to build a thicker skin. I remember one bit of feedback I got when I first started was, ‘That girl sounds like her mouth is having spasms’. You can’t even interpret that in a positive way!” she laughs. “You just have to learn to use feedback to become better, as opposed to seeing it as a criticism.”
It’s a career move that has taken her around New South Wales, Queensland, and even the Maldives, but it’s the Sunshine Coast where she eventually settled four years ago with her fiancé Norm, working at 91.9 Sea FM alongside Adam ‘BarRat’ Barratt.
Now over a decade into her career and more aware of her influence, Jess is using her public profile to shine a light on women’s issues and empower other women in any way she can.
“I’m finding that we’re in a really exciting time in radio now where women are allowed to be bold and they’re allowed to speak about what they would like to speak about,” she explains.
“In the past women were just the co-hosts, whereas now we can be even hosts and have our own opinions. And I’m so grateful to have been a part of that transition within my career, because I didn’t realise it was a problem until we were allowed to start talking about things that we wouldn’t have been able to five years ago.”
One of those topics is postnatal depression, which Jess shone a light on in 2014 after experiencing it herself with her first child, Fred. And although she was fortunate enough not to experience it with her second child, Matilda, it’s an issue she is still passionate about.
You actually have the freedom to become great at whatever it is that you want to become great at. The most empowering thing you can do within your soul is to just race your own race.”
“I think a lot of women with PND are perceived as being tired and grumpy, or naggers. We get labelled with so many terms that point to us having a problem with our attitude when in actual fact, what we’re expressing externally is nothing compared to what’s happening to us on the inside,” she says.
“For me, (speaking about) it was part of my healing process – if I spoke about it, then it would show me that it wasn’t such a dirty secret. I think by changing that stigma to instead ask the question of why, that will start new conversations for people who don’t know they’ve got it.”
Now she’s turning her attention to teaching other women to love themselves – an initiative she is running over the coming months through Sea FM.
“If I could feel as comfortable in my own skin 10 years ago as I am now, I feel I would have enjoyed life a lot better. I think it’s so vital, especially for young women, to not worry so much about what people say and do, and just immerse themselves in their own passions.”
“My mum was the Australian champion gumleaf player and I was an Australian champion lawn bowls player – both of those things are so not perceived as ‘cool’,” she says with a grin.
“Mum would play the gum leaf in front of the kids at school, and initially I was like, ‘Oh my God, stop!’,” she laughs, “but she taught me to just own what you’re doing, love it, and as soon as you let go of trying to control the opinions that come back at you, you actually have the freedom to become great at whatever it is that you want to become great at. The most empowering thing you can do within your soul is to just race your own race.
“For any girls out there, I want you to know that you can make your money out of your passion. You’re so easily influenced when you’re young, so don’t listen when you’re told what you should be doing and don’t do what you think is going to make you the most amount of money – you will make the most money and happiness out of your passion.”
Sound advice from an inspiring woman.