Richelle Hunt reveals the stories behind some of her favourites

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Richelle Hunt at home in Melbourne.

When Richelle Hunt found out she had been made ABC Radio Melbourne’s new Afternoons show presenter early last year, she burst into tears.

“I was so happy and privileged because it was something I’d been working towards for a long time,” the now 44-year-old said.

The Afternoons show (2-4pm, Monday to Thursday) had always been “the dream gig” since Hunt joined the station, then known as 774 ABC Melbourne, in 2006.

“I like to have a chat and on Afternoons you can have lengthy conversations and hear incredible stories not only from the fabulous and famous, but also from normal people who have achieved great things in their community,” she said.

Hunt’s passion for radio started when she started volunteering at community station 3CR after university.

“I was hooked from the beginning. I then went to 3RRR and said, ‘I’ll do anything’, so I did graveyard shifts, I produced the Film Buffs Forecast show and was, basically, a full-time volunteer. I loved every second of it.”

She paid her rent by waiting tables but, at the age of 30, decided she had to find a way to ditch the hospitality gig and make radio her full-time career.

After ringing “practically every radio station in the country”, she landed a gig shadowing 774 ABC Melbourne’s breakfast traffic reporter.

“And I thought, ‘OK, once you let me in that building, I’m not going to leave’,” laughed Hunt, who lives with her husband and five-year-old daughter in a bayside suburb.

From there, she worked her way up from traffic reporter to producer to station reporter. One of her first jobs in the latter role was to cover the Black Saturday bushfires of February 2009.

“There was a moment when I was out in the field and had a bit of a panic and thought, ‘Oh my god, I don’t have the skills for this’,” she said.

“But then I realised that the most important thing in that moment was to be a decent human being and to do what felt right. It gave me the confidence to just be myself.”

In 2017, she started hosting the station’s The Friday Revue (2-4pm on Fridays with Brian Nankervis, from SBS’s RocKwiz music quiz show).

“It’s a great joy and I love it,” she said.

Hunt was hooked on radio from the beginning.

Typical Saturday morning

We’ve usually had a big week, so on Saturday morning, we tend to take it easy. We’ll often have a lazy breakfast together before going for a walk down to the beach. Then we might potter around the garden or go to Bunnings. We’ve recently moved into a house that was built around 1830, so there’s always something that needs fixing.

Emergency snack

I don’t go anywhere without food. It’s a bit of a running joke among my friends and colleagues. I’ve always got some nuts, fruit, or carrot or celery sticks on me. I’m a bit of a health nut.

Signature dish

My husband and I entertain a lot at home and we’re known for our Chinese barbecue. He’ll put some pork belly and crispy skin chicken on the Weber. And I’ll make some fried rice, pork dumplings, sticky pork ribs and perhaps some spring rolls and serve it all with a big spicy carrot salad.

On my bedside table

Because I have to do a lot of research for interviews (on my radio show), there’s always a diverse collection of books that I’m trying to get through for work. Currently, there’s a book on quitting plastics and a book on fungi. There are also copies of The New Yorker, which I subscribe to and really want to read, but hardly ever get around to. I am also reading Holly Throsby’s second novel, Cedar Valley.

Fantasy place to live

As long as there were trees, water and peace and quiet, and a little village nearby to buy nice produce, I wouldn’t care where in the world it was. I could be on Phillip Island or in the south of France and I’d be happy. Just as long as it wasn’t too hot.

Chill-out music

I’m not just saying this because I work at the ABC but we’re big on a lot of the ABC stations, such as ABC Jazz or ABC Classic, in our house. I’m a big Double J girl, as well.

Happiness at home

Family, friends and food. Seeing as our daughter is still young, we spend a lot of time at home, but I’m happy about that. We’re big homebodies.

Secret domestic skill

I’m one of those weird re-arrangers. I’m forever moving things around at home.

My favourite things

Painting

This is a painting by the prolific American artist Matt Sesow. About eight years ago, my husband and I went to Scotland for a friend’s wedding and, seeing as we’d never been to Europe before, decided to visit a few other places as well. When we were in Barcelona, we were on our way to the Picasso Museum, but we got lost and stumbled into a little art shop. The guy who ran it started telling us about some of the artworks and the artists behind them and after a fascinating couple of hours we ended up buying this painting. For the next six weeks, we carted it around multiple countries in a tube. It was totally worth it because it’s such a striking piece of art that takes me back to that afternoon in Barcelona. We never did make it to the Picasso Museum.

The striking artwork by Matt Sesow.

Shoes

My mum passed away seven years ago on my birthday. We were very close and would always go shopping and go on holiday together and would always come back with stupid amounts of shoes, for some reason. On the fifth anniversary of her passing, I was feeling a bit emotional and my sweet hubby said, “Let’s go and do something special”. He took me to this rather fancy shoe shop and bought these divine Prada shoes for me. I wear them all the time and, even though they look stupidly uncomfortable, they’re not. Having a birthday on the same day as I lost my mum is bittersweet and for the first couple of years I didn’t feel like celebrating my birthday at all. But as time goes on, I have found a way to be at peace with it and celebrate both of our lives. I still miss my mum greatly. I was an only child, and, without it sounding like a cliche, we were best friends. A huge part of my life is missing now she’s gone.

“Divine”: the Prada shoes.

Chair

I love mid-century furniture and have three butterfly chairs, which are the most comfortable chairs you’ll ever sit on. This particular one came from my mother-in-law’s shed. When I first started going out with my husband, about 25 years ago, I went and met his mother and spotted two of them in her shed. I thought to myself, ‘How long do I have to wait before I can ask about those chairs, because obviously no one wants them’. It took me about 15 years before I plucked up the courage to ask her for one. Mid-century is probably my favourite era of furniture and I love a good fossick for new pieces. I found some Kartell stackable tables on the side of the road in Beaumaris that I just had to find space for in my lounge. I’m a big fan of hard rubbish.

Comfy: one of Hunt’s three butterfly chairs.

Numbered wood

My husband and I are massive St Kilda (Football Club) fans. When one of the dilapidated grandstands was demolished at Moorabbin Oval in 2010 (after the club moved to a new training base at Seaford), members were able to buy a piece to keep as a souvenir. This is the back of seat number 66, which, unfortunately, is the last time St Kilda won a flag. Visitors do ask us why there is a random piece of wood with stencilled numbers sitting on our mantelpiece, but I like the way it looks and the fact it is a piece of St Kilda history. Going to the footy is a bit of a family catch-up for us and I’m looking forward to my daughter now being at the age where we can go a bit more regularly again. I was actually raised a Carlton fan and when I changed to the Saints I had to ring my dad to tell him of my decision. He still ribs me about it.

The back of seat 66 from the demolished grandstand.

Clock

When Brian (Nankervis) and I first started doing The Friday Revue, the ABC studios in Southbank were being renovated. Lots of things were being pulled out and one day I looked out of the window and saw this clock sitting on top of a pile of rubbish. I was pretty sure no one would mind me taking it but I got Brian to watch my back while I went and retrieved it. The funny thing is that when I got it home, I realised that it didn’t work because it had to be hardwired to the studio wall. It’s a running joke that it’s always eight o’clock in our house. I like the design of the clock, though, and the fact it has the Lissajous figure of the ABC logo.

Always eight o’clock: the rescued timepiece.

Mouse

I bought this little porcelain mouse for my mum when I was five from my school fete in Trafalgar, where I grew up. Mum had all these beautiful antiques in her home but she proudly kept that little two dollar mouse on her mantelpiece, among the antiques. When she passed away, I grabbed it for my mantelpiece but my daughter loves it, so it now sits in her room. It’s the mouse that keeps on giving. Family heirlooms are often not the most expensive items.

Passed down: the treasured mouse.

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