Brandy Scott's first day back on Dubai Eye's The Business Breakfast show was, at least in one way, fairly similar to the day she left three years ago.
“They made me cry on the radio when I left with a really fantastic tribute show, which was amazing,” says Ms Scott, 39, from New Zealand. “And then on the way back in everyone went to such an effort that I was nearly in tears again. I was like, what are you trying to do?”
Ms Scott returned to the FM103.8 radio show on Sunday after a hiatus of almost three years, during which she studied a creative writing master’s in her home country.
A staple for many on their morning commute, The Business Breakfast provides a roundup of the day's biggest business stories. The station as a whole attracts 1.8 million listeners per week, according to independent research by YouGov. Live every weekday between 6am and 9am, Ms Scott's return to the show means it now features three presenters, where previously there were only two.
All three – Ms Scott, Richard Dean and Malcolm Taylor – have presented on the show before. Mr Dean was one of the founding presenters in January 2005, while Mr Taylor joined six months after the start, with Ms Scott becoming a member the following year in 2006. Like Ms Scott, Mr Dean also left for a time in late 2006, although in his case to join Bloomberg in London, but now they are all back presenting together.
“The fact we’re going to have three presenters for radio is an incredible luxury,” says Ms Scott. “I will give us a lot more flexibility and also mean we can go out and cover and attend big meetings and conferences and still have two people in the studio. It will allow us to have a lot more coverage and actually be on the ground more.”
Coming back was daunting, adds Ms Scott, but she knows she made the right choice and listeners seem to agree. She has been overwhelmed by the messages she has received this week on the show and via social media.
Dubai-based listener Rachel Hamilton, from the UK, regularly tuned in until Ms Scott left.
“While Brandy did it, it was still funny. It was entertaining but also informative. What I listen to now is entertaining, but I don’t go home and think about what I have heard. And I did before,” she says. She now intends to start tuning in again.
For journalist Ms Scott, radio was not her first choice in the media. She moved to the UAE as a fresh graduate at 22 in 1999 after answering an advert in the Media Guardian in the UK, where she studied journalism.
“When I came in 1999 it was the sort of place that when you told people where you were going they were like: ‘Where?’ which obviously doesn’t happen any more. But it was more opportunity than anything else,” she says.
After working in magazines and newspapers for about five years, her career took a turn after a chat one night with Mr Dean, who, like her, had worked at Gulf Business. He suggested she might be good on the radio and to give it a try.
“I did it once a week and I remember falling absolutely in love with it and just thinking … I never considered it as a medium before,” she says.
“You could really hear what people were saying. It wasn’t like newspapers and magazines when you had to say Sam didn’t seem to want to answer the question. People can hear all of that – it just seemed such a transparent medium.”
She joined the show full-time around 18 months after it started, co-hosting with Mr Taylor and Mr Dean separately. But by 2013 she was looking for a change. And having won a coveted place on the Creative Writing master’s course at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, she decided to go for it.
“I had always wanted to do it. And it seemed one of those things that if I I didn’t do it now I was ever going to,” she says.
Her thesis involved producing a work of fiction. She wrote a novel called The Long Weekend, which explores life after living as an expatriate – not fully autobiographical, but partly inspired by the "reverse culture shock" she experienced returning to New Zealand. She has since won a mentorship deal with an Australian publisher to produce a second draft of the novel.
So how did her return to the show come about?
“I didn’t know if I would be lucky enough to do the same job again. But I have kept a dialogue with the radio station. It just came out of the discussions we were having,” says Ms Scott.
Ms Scott is glad to be back on the show, but intends to keep writing in her spare time.
“You are talking to different people all morning, which is fabulous. It gives me a nice amount of writing time in the afternoons before I have to sit down and prepare for the next morning’s show.”
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