GET TO KNOW: SuperWomen HQ – Part 2 ‘Georgie Rogers’
The rise of the Super Women ‘Part 2’ by Leonie Watkins
Broadcaster, music journalist, and DJ, Georgie Rogers is fifty percent of the Super Women brainchild. If Super Women sounds completely new, it is! The platform (now live) has launched several short films showcasing trailblazing women across the UK with powerful stories to tell, plus a further 5 films to be released in the coming months. It was a project born out of necessity. But more on that later.
We begin by chatting about Georgie’s foray into the music industry. Something which must have presented itself as highly appealing to a young person. Georgie tells me, “I’ve always listened to the radio. I didn’t realise until I started working that I had long been fascinated with it. And much to my mum’s annoyance, as soon as I got in the car, whenever we went on any journey I would immediately take off LBC or Radio 4 and put on a music channel. So there were lots of women that I was listening to, like Sara Cox or Annie Mac, Zoe Ball – all those female presenters whom I loved as much as any of the male DJs shows I may also have listened to at that time. Just great voices and strong styles. When I was younger, we had a family friend who was a radio presenter. I don’t know if that subliminally featured… Of course, just loving music and the performance aspect of the radio world was something I enjoyed. Looking back, I think I’ve always had a sort of ‘portfolio career’ as well.” She reflects, “I was finishing my degree in English and Drama in Birmingham and I had a bit of a freak out so decided I should probably line up some work or work experience to try to get into it, but I hadn’t been massively pro active until the second or third year because I always thought I’d go to drama school afterwards. When I lost my buzz a bit for acting I started thinking more about radio.
I finished university and wrote letters to radio stations and I got an internship at Virgin Radio. Having travelled to Jersey to work on a commercial station, I ended up having to present the show with 10 minutes notice when the presenter was sick! As these things happened, I realised that this was what I wanted to do. I missed out on a receptionist job at Virgin Radio and thought this is terrible! I’m never going to work in radio. It seemed it was doomed to be a disaster. I was gutted. But actually, it was the best job that I never got! Because within 2 months I had paid work, my first freelance job. When XFM gave me a microphone and sent me on the red carpet at the NME awards, it was a lightbulb moment. Bam! I realised music, performing and presenting was it for me. Slowly, one thing after another, opportunities have opened up. When I started a club night I had to learn how to DJ on the hop! I quickly learnt how to mix and did that for 6 years. I began DJing properly off the back of it. I got myself an agent for voice overs and that’s something which has been amazing. It’s the funnest job in the world, going in and recording a script, then seeing it on a TV ad a few months later.”
“Not only do the films support women in the industry, but the entire crew, including the artists whose names grace the music credits, are female. It is quite an extraordinary effort.”
Georgie is hugely passionate about the fledgling collaboration, and of building on the Super Women foundations. As she puts it, “Not only do the films support women in the industry, but the entire crew, including the artists whose names grace the music credits, are female. It is quite an extraordinary effort.” Georgie says of the initial seed of the ideas, to lassoing subjects and a production crew, “with the first series, it was more a case of considering which people we were keen to talk to and who might be up for it, and also, those who are working in an incredibly male dominated sphere. It was really quite a small cluster of people at the beginning. It was VC London, and Elspeth [Beard, the first British woman to motorcycle around the world] who was absolutely at the heart of it, the true seed of inspiration. Then came Leah Tokelove; flat track racer, and also Catherine Marks; music producer. I was really aware of what she was doing within music. You just wouldn’t get press releases with a female producer credited in alternative music. She was an anomaly. I’ve been working in the industry for 11 years and I’d get sent the PR for lots of artists, and it was around the time Catherine started working with The Big Moon, and those bands she made her name with. I met her at a party briefly. I think she’d just won Producer of the Year at the Music Producer Guild Awards, which was a massive deal as she was the first woman to win that award. We reached out to her and a few other people in politics, tech and design, who we had a real interest in talking to. There’s an abundance of people we could shoot, and so many that we reached out to, and quite a lot that we didn’t pursue further. Once 8 films were in the can we had to stop in order to get our ducks in a row, so to speak and launch the thing to get it going. Because Super Women is self backed, it gets a bit difficult. We’re ready to go now on series 2, given a bit of funding we’ll be in a position to make it happen.”
“Times are changing and it’s only a good thing celebrating gender diversity on the radio and I think stations are finally waking up to that ”
The dawn of Super Women
I’m keen to know more about how the concept for Super Women came about. Georgie tells me, “The primary focus as well was showing role models. I had been to a few talks and was listening to various podcasts. If you’re trying to change the conversation and the rhetoric around women, role models is the absolute key thing. If girls can see people doing it for themselves, it’s more likely to make them think they can give it a go. With Catherine, I was talking to her and realised she didn’t have any role models. It was also important that everything we put out was celebratory and of inspiring stories and inspiring people. We never wanted it to be an intimidating thing for men or a male bashing exercise, either.”
I wonder if there was a pinnacle moment during the making of series 1 that validated all the hard work, early starts and late nights in getting Super Women ready to show to the world? Georgie responds immediately, wide-eyed and animated. “Premiering the first film, there was that moment of clarification that we were doing the right thing. We were doing something good and this was absolutely right, by starting small and building it up. There was such a good vibe in the venue and it was really uplifting afterwards. Everyone was talking about the film, that they were so inspired by it…”
I ask Georgie if in her chosen current home of radio whether she has experienced difficulties, specifically and as a direct result of simply being female? “Well, generally if you look at a weekly schedule line-up at a lot of the mainstream radio stations, Monday to Friday, often there are 2 women on per day out of 8 or 9 slots. There’s just less spaces to aim for but times are changing and it’s only a good thing celebrating gender diversity on the radio and I think stations are finally waking up to that ”
“Lots of men and women have influenced and shaped my career. I feel very lucky to have had so many mentors in radio”
At a relatively early stage in her career, Georgie already holds an impressive resume and has a wealth of experience strapped under her belt. She is clearly aware of how fate has favourably turned, yet while some of her history can be considered fortuitous developments, Georgie is careful to highlight that she has worked hard to secure opportunities and to grab any event which presented itself with both hands. Without doubt, this is a go-getting woman and one who makes things happen!
“Lots of men and women have influenced and shaped my career. I feel very lucky to have had so many mentors in radio, from my first editor at BBC 6 Music, Julie Cullen who took a chance on an eager 23 year old and gave me a shot, to Jo Good [at XFM – ex MTV broadcaster, XFM, BBC] who was undoubtedly a pivotal person and amazing at mentoring me through my twenties. I didn’t have a degree in journalism or any sort of qualification, but she was like, can you write? I have an English and Drama degree so I knew I could! I started writing the music news on the website but very quickly made the switch to broadcasting. My boss Chris Baughen at XFM gave me a big break and along with Jo, really helped me grow as a presenter. Also, Lauren Laverne tipped me off to Virgin Radio being relaunched, which played a part in landing my Music Discovery Show. Shaun Keaveny and Matt Everitt have supported me on and off-air for the past decade with their unconditional generosity.”
I’m interested as to where the Super Women empire will be venturing next. “We’re building up to launching a training academy in 2020”, Georgie tells me. “We want to start an academy for presenters and filmmakers by running a 2 or 3 day course for people who want to learn interviewing and presenting skills, and the element of being on camera. Plus of course the filmmaking side of things as well.”
I put it to Georgie that she is now likely a person to influence younger women hoping to break into music journalism and, in turn, inspire them. Some of these women might look on in awe at how far she has progressed from early beginnings, armed with great determination. What sort of advice might she have for young people just starting out? Georgie pauses for a moment, then offers, “it’s about making stuff and having a shop window for what you’re doing to send people and building up a network, having the confidence to go for it and approaching people. It is quite scary, but it’s amazing what you can do once you just start. Bit by bit, things happen. If you really want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to get there.”
The first 3 Super Women films, ‘Elspeth Beard: the first British woman to motorbike around the world’, ‘Catherine Marks: award winning record producer’ and, ‘VC London: female motorcycle collective’ are available on Super Women’s YouTube channel. The remaining 5 are to be released in coming months.
Georgie lives in East London with her Honda CG125