2017 was a very good year for twenty-six-year-old reporter, TV and radio presenter Kelly-Anne Borge, who has managed to pack three of the most life-changing stressful events in any young adult’s life in the short time it takes for Earth to revolve around the Sun once: new job, a fairytale wedding with exotic honeymoon, and moving homes.
And like the Earth revolving around the Sun, Kelly’s life revolves pretty much around broadcasting and the gruelling demands of rising way before the sun does – not just to avoid rush hour on her way to work, but to bid ‘good morning, Gibraltar!’ to listeners waking up to the smile in her voice when she reads out the news. “Yes, I always drive in the dark, even in summer, as I am due to open the gates at 6.30, being the first member of staff in.” She’s got her alarm set at 5.30, and when it first beeps she describes the feeling akin to having to get up to catch an early plane, hard to start off with but exciting with expectation.
Despite her co-presenter Ben Lynch advising the famous Breakfast Club members against hitting the snooze button, she doesn’t practice what she preaches (to her defence, she doesn’t preach it, Ben does!) and does so a couple of times before tossing the covers aside and shuffling to the living room to get dressed. By then, her husband Nick – whom she describes as ‘the love of my life’ – is awake, so she kisses him good morning before leaving. “He is very supportive of what I do, and I am grateful he’s made a big adjustment to his life to start his day with me, and listen to me on the radio.” There’s no having breakfast together on weekdays for the newlyweds, but they make up for it on weekends, when Kelly affords herself a lie-in to the ‘luxurious’ hour of 8-9am!
While waking up in the small hours is routine in the UK, in Gibraltar it is prerogative of a limited number of early-bird professions, and it affects their social life later in the day, as this tends to stretch well into the small hours, when one may find oneself running on empty around the clock before realising it’s time for work again and they haven’t gone to bed yet!
Kelly doesn’t give up socialising on weekdays though, always with an eye to her watch, aiming to be tucked up in bed by 11pm: “If I can make it by that time, I consider my day accomplished. By Friday night however I am exhausted, and I usually call it an early night when everyone else is just about going out!”
Her toughest day is Wednesday going to Thursday, when she hosts the live TV programme ‘The Hub’ at 9.30pm. “I finish my shift on Radio Gibraltar at 2pm as usual, but Wednesday is the one day I definitely take an afternoon nap! I wasn’t much of a ‘napper’ before, but nowadays my body just asks for it! It isn’t physical tiredness, though, mostly the need to switch off for a while and refresh my mind before returning to Broadcasting House at 7pm.”
Being live on TV requires looking and sounding all bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, which Kelly manages to pull off like a true professional. “When the show is over, I am still high on adrenaline, and winding down to sleep doesn’t come naturally when I return home, so Wednesday is the night I am hardly ever sound asleep before midnight, and the alarm blares shortly after. Thursday mornings on air are my hardest,” she confesses, but thanks to the lively interaction she still manages to keep up with Ben, listeners hardly notice.
Since Christine Clifton-Psaila retired at the end of 2016, Kelly found herself with ‘big shoes to fill’ taking up the challenge of being the new newsreader on the ‘Breakfast Show’ – and more than that when she was upgraded to being the co-presenter in what was re-dubbed the ‘Ben & Kelly Show’. “I am really grateful to Ben who’s made me feel at home in his long-running show, participating in his regular features and adding new ones that allow us to involve the audience. It’s easy to forget we’re live on air sometimes as it feels like good-natured banter with a friend, a chat over breakfast.”
For Kelly, breakfast is usually at her desk, ‘stashed with porridge and cereals’, while she starts her busy day organising headlines for the many readings interspersed between 7.04 to 9.04 (or 9.09, like Ben says). She works through a hectic two-hour spell, including nipping upstairs to reception to retrieve the newly-delivered dailies and perusing them for highlights, or popping in and out of the newsroom before sitting back for the more relaxed last hour, culminating in interactive quizzes and competitions. At ten o’clock, Kelly is off air and switches to her ‘producer hat’, settling in the newsroom to produce the lunchtime news hour, editing and collating segments, carrying out telephone interviews and jotting down headlines.
In fact, Kelly is a reporter before being a presenter: “GBC is my first and only employer so far and I found my second family in Broadcasting House. I started there as a production secretary at just eighteen, fresh out of school and while studying for my English Language and Literature degree through the Open University. I worked on shifts and often studied at night, aiming to complete my studies in three years. Yes, I was a night owl before the opportunity of my current job propped up! But before that, a vacancy for a reporter position opened just about the time of my graduation, so I applied and landed it. Television reports gave me the chance to meet a lot of interesting people and diversify my interests: one day, it was a politician I rushed to interview with my camera crew, the next an artist or a charity activist…”
So, in some respects, her transfer to the radio slowed down her hectic day: less running or driving around, less pressure to look picture-perfect groomed on camera and the relief of being allowed a ‘radio face’ on bad hair days – although she firmly believes that the antelucan hour she leaves home at is no excuse for not doing her hair and make-up! Yet she needs to keep on the ball for conversational spontaneity, because there are no do-overs and editing magic for live radio, and one must make sure that quick-fire one-liners are kept appropriate at all times.
“I enjoy the idea of keeping company to our listeners as they get ready to face their own day.” Perhaps her listeners are grateful to someone who wakes up even earlier than them just to make their morning routine more enjoyable and informative, yet Kelly is surely delighted to be forming a relationship with the most active Breakfast Club members who regularly send in their news, thoughts, guesses as a feedback to her daily dos.
Kelly is already a local celebrity in her own right: “Recently, someone recognised me solely from my voice: I was chatting to a friend at the supermarket when someone came up to me and exclaimed ‘hey, I’d recognize your voice anywhere!’ It felt good being acknowledged like that. Another time, someone else reassured me that I am way thinner in real life than on TV…”
And is there life beyond the airwaves for Kelly? “I am a victim of wanderlust, and I spend most of my free time planning our next holiday – when I am not attending exercise and Zumba classes, which is my way to release stress in this sweaty dance where you can lose your inhibitions and have fun with likeminded women.” Indeed the world is her playground, under her personal motto “take everything in your stride and don’t be frightened by a challenge: the scarier the challenge, the more rewarding the outcome will be.”