Talent Search is a wonderful initiative which provides an exciting opportunity to give airplay on radio 98.1 for local musicians, singers and songwriters.  It started in 2018 and is a very popular program in its third successful season.

James Mark, June 2020 Winner

David Green who is the head of the Yarra Ranges marketing group of the Bendigo Bank worked alongside Brian Amos, renowned as a top radio presenter in the 1980’s, and together they came up with a plan to promote Australian talent.  The Yarra Ranges group of Bendigo Bank allocates funding to various voluntary community projects worthy of promotion and they decided to fully support the Talent Search idea.  At the outset Murray Smith, a 98.1 presenter got involved and on Sundays from 10 to 11 am he presents this exciting Talent Search.  He explained to me that he got involved because he wanted to play new Australian music so he decided to “give it a go” and has done a great job doing just that.

The season runs from June this year until February 2021.  Entrants come from all over Australia with both city and country musicians.  It is open to all age groups, however teens need parental permission to participate.  Some entrants are hobbyists, other want to make a career out of it as semi-professionals.  Entrants can submit online an MP3 version of either their own compositions or cover versions and more than one song can be submitted.  It is open to a wide range of musical styles and it can be either vocal or instrumental.

Bendigo Bank generously provides $6000 a year sponsorship for the program.  Each month there is a monthly prize of $500 voted online by listeners.  Online each month the current performances/songs (15-20 a month) are available for listeners to enjoy and review for voting.  Entrants are offered a phone interview on 98.1 fm for five minutes which is followed by their song for the competition.  The monthly winner is invited to 98.1 fm to accept the monthly prize on air and they can perform their song live on air if they choose to do that.  In the final month of the competition in March next year, all the monthly winner’s performances are aired on 98.1 along with several other popular entries with twenty in the final competition. The grand final prize is $1500 for the winner and $500 for the runner up.  In the first season of the Talent Search the winner was Jamie McLennan who currently performs annually in The Basin Music Festival.  In the month of June this year the winner was James Mark with his original song, “Staring at her.”  I spoke to James recently and he shared with me his experience with the Talent Search. He tells me that with this song he says, “I made it exactly the way I wanted it to be.”  He did a lot of advertising himself to promote it and found the most effective way to promote it was from the support of his fans and friends who shared his song and he said to me, “they were a real big part of it.”  He believes that the Talent Search really gets your name out there and is one of the steps to an end goal.  He says, “It puts you in a level up to win the song competition and that the track got more attention than if I had not won.”  He also explained that due to Covid-19 restrictions he was not able build on the momentum of the win and was not able to do a live performance to launch the song as he had planned.  He is studying a degree in security and international relations but he tells me, “my passion is music for sure, it make you feel you are achieving something and connects you with people.”

So, I would encourage musicians, singers and songwriters of all ages in our community to seriously consider this wonderful opportunity to display and promote your talents and entertain the 98.1 fm listeners. Well done 98.1 fm and Bendigo Bank for this excellent program showcasing Australian musical talent.

The website for the Talent Search is www.radioeasternfm.awardsplatform.com

Lynette Hayhurst