Ben Fordham’s 18-year-old breakfast secret weapon
Broadcaster Ben Fordham now sits in one of the most influential radio chairs in the country but the power to turn his radio on lies in the hands of an 18-year-old.
Ryleigh Geddes is Fordham's audio producer and as Fordham celebrated the end of his first week replacing veteran Alan Jones as breakfast show host on Sydney's 2GB, Geddes marked her first day in the chair beside him, replacing her dad Ross Geddes.
"It's a bit surreal," Geddes told The Saturday Telegraph on replacing her father. "Dad told me just to be confident, to not second guess yourself. To get in there and kill it and 'I'm so proud of you!"
Ross Geddes was Jones' panel operator for 26 years and was sitting beside the legendary broadcaster when a then eager-15 year-old Fordham entered the radio studio for work experience.
"Ross has been with Alan for an eternity and when it was time for him to hang up the headphones, it just so happened it was Ryleigh who was going to step into his seat," Fordham told The Saturday Telegraph. "At her age to be doing a big job like this, it's just a big indication of how capable she is and how talented she is."
Much like Fordham, Geddes knew she wanted to work in radio from a very young age. She left school in Year-10 to work as an audio producer for the midnight to dawn shift, her passion and work ethic eventually catching the eye of Fordham, who compares the position to that of an air-traffic controller. "You've got a lot of planes in the air and you want to make sure they land safely. It's such a high pressure job for anyone to do, let alone someone of Ryleigh's age. But Ryleigh earned this job on her merits," he said.
Geddes is also the only female panel operator at the station, which was appealing for Fordham.
"I've always wanted to work with the woman in the studio. My Dad used to always say to me, the most natural point of difference in life is male and female. I've always thought to myself, it would be great to sit in the studio with a woman, because it allows for a different take on things," he said.
Adds Geddes, "The job requires so much communication between Ben and I. we just have to be able to be so comfortable with each other."
Fordham describes Geddes as "a bright presence" in the early hours of the morning, adding they've got a deal to play a special song to start the day. "She plays 'Gloria', the Alan Jones theme song when I walk in every morning in the studio. Just so we both remind ourselves, this was the Alan Jones breakfast show and now it's the Ryleigh and Ben show."
Fordham celebrated his first week in the role with a listeners lunch at Bankstown, adding that despite the pressure that comes with the position, he's had fun.
"I walked away from the first show saying to myself, "I like this!" … I feel like I'm suited to it and I feel like this is the start of a whole new era," he said. "And it's an era involving Ryleigh Geddes."
Originally published as Ben Fordham's 18-year-old breakfast secret weapon