Meet the QLD footy legend and radio personality!
Meet the QLD footy legend and radio personality!
We have to be upfront, and ask you a very important question… are you a Queenslander or are you a Queenslanderrrrr? If your answer is the later, then read on. Because we were fortunate enough to get to know Queensland footy legend and radio personality, Ben Hannant. And for those who don’t know, prior to his time on the breakfast show on Bianca, Dan & Ben Gold Coast’s Hit 90.9, he represented the QLD side of State of Origin on more than one occasion and even managed to obtain two tries during his Origin career. So ahead of Game 2 and 3 of the 2021 Origin series, we got to know Ben a little better.
Tell us a bit about your career to date.
I first found my love of football while in high school at Currumbin High, my first club was at Burleigh Bears as a junior. I then dedicated over 15 years of my life to professional football. I signed up to football in 2001, straight out of high school and joined the Brisbane Broncos. I spent nine years with the Broncos, two years with the Sydney Roosters, two years at Canterbury Bulldogs and my final two professional years I was with the North Queensland Cowboys. During my professional career, I won two premierships, played and won five Origin Series. I played six tests representing Australia, four Nations Champions and two World Club Challenges. I was awarded Dally M Prop Of The Year 2009. When I retired from football, I made my way back home to take on a new challenge of radio on the Gold Coast. I joined the breakfast team at Hit90.9 alongside Dan Anstey and Heather Maltman in 2017 and I’ve been on the airwaves ever since!
What’s the best thing about working alongside Bianca Dye & Dan Anstey?
Having fun! There’s not a dull moment in the studio with those two. Dan’s always got a one-liner and Bee’s got no filter! Every day is interesting, we get to speak to the Gold Coast every morning and we’re always laughing. I’m so lucky to call it ‘work’.
What did you enjoy the most about playing footy?
Friendships, life skills and always pushing myself to be better. I had to learn to enjoy feeling comfortable being uncomfortable. It has shaped me to be the man, husband and father I am today.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Definitely marrying my wife, Emma and building a life and family together.
What do you love the most about the Gold Coast?
The thing I love the most about the Gold Coast – everything is at your disposal. You’ve got the beaches, the hinterland, the river, great restaurants and nightlife. There is no better place to live and raise a family.
Where will you be watching the next two games of Origin 2021?
Game 2, I’ll be in Brisbane watching the action live! For Game 3, I’ll either be at home with the family or securing my seat at the Sydney Stadium!
Honestly, who do you think is going to win the State of Origin this year?
Queensland, of course! You won’t hear me say anything different. EVER.
What are your Gold Coast favourites…
Café: No Name Lane in Broadbeach is a favourite and it’s right across the road from the studio!
Coffee spot: I’ve never had a coffee! But I love a hot choccie from Max Brenner in Robina.
Restaurant: Jimmy Wah’s in Burleigh, great food at the best location.
Bar or pub for a drink: Definitely The Sporting Globe in Robina!
How do you choose to spend your weekends? You would find me fishing, surfing, playing football, horse riding, mountain bike riding – anything the kids are up for! With eight kids, we normally do all of these activities in one day.
You may recognise Bianca’s voice before you recognise her, as she is the prominent female voice on HIT 90.9FM between the hours of 6-9am every weekday (alongside her co-hosts Dan & Ben). Her bright and bubbly personality radiates through your ears and you just know she is a Gold Coast sweetheart. We were delighted to ask her a few questions ahead of International Women’s Day to talk all things empowerment, career and of course, her local GC loves.
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
On and off for most of my life – I have had three different incarnations of a radio show here too! Ha!
What do you love most about living here?
After living in Sydney’s CBD for 8 years, I just LOVE the laid-back lifestyle these days, which is exactly what the GC offers. Plus, how about the beaches?! And the fantastic foodie scene has definitely grown in the last 10 years and has become my favourite place in Australia!
Tell us about your career thus far.
It’s honestly hard to summarise in a few words. But I actually started as a Marilyn Monroe impersonator at the Paradise Centre here in Surfers Paradise. I then worked my way through radio for the last 26 years – first Sydney with the original Nova crew, then did some time in Wollongong and Brisbane. But now I’m back on the Coast doing my dream job with Dan and Ben at HIT 90.9FM!
What’s your proudest career moment?
That’s a tough one – I’m fortunate enough to have had a few in 27 years! One would have to be being the first daytime announcer to beat radio legend John Laws in the radio ratings in Sydney which was pretty cool! And I was lucky enough to be awarded the “Best Announcer In The Country” Award back-to-back. And I believe, I still hold the title as the only female to do that! Humble aren’t I?!
Is there a specific women’s empowerment moment that has inspired you in your life or career?
One of the best movements I’ve seen online is #keepinitreal. It seems simple but being authentic and honest with your followers and listeners has always been something I have promised; and people relate to you when you admit that life isn’t always great!
Where have you felt empowered or disempowered as a woman?
There’s a lot of stories I can’t share as it would publicly shame people… you’ll just have to wait until I write a book when I’m 90! But I guess feeling empowered is when you have a team of amazing people around you that support you and allow you to be yourself. When you do that for fellow co-workers too that empowers them and creates a great environment where you have each others’ backs.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day means something different for every woman depending on where they are in their life and in their own world. It shouldn’t depend on which country, household or relationship that woman is in as long as they are ‘free’, with the right to freedom of speech and the freedom to be who they are. This is the day to shout this from the rooftops and celebrate all women from all walks of life…
What is your International Women’s Day message?
I want to remind women that it’s okay to be unapologetically THEM! Whether that’s being a hot mess, loud, fabulous, smart, tired, exhausted, happy, single, divorced, studying or stay-at-home mums (or those who are NOT mothers), let’s just embrace who we are and stop trying to pretend to be something for other people… #BeYOU!
Tell us your favourites on the Coast…
Cafe for breakfast: no name lane – it’s just downstairs from work and I love grabbing a super clean scrambled eggs with salmon and greens and the staff are always lovely!
Coffee spot: I use my own ‘Before You Speak’ Coffee Sachets at the station – that keeps me fired all day. But on weekends I love a takeaway iced long black at either Brunch N Co in Broady or BSKT cafe in Nobbys.
Restaurant for dinner: Romano’s in Nobby Beach- they have the most drool-worthy marinara with garlic & chilli. Plus dare I say, best pizza ever?
Bar or pub for a drink: Bar is definitely Rick Shores for a cheeky Margi! And as for a Pub, would have to be Rainbow Bay Surf Club for a dirty Schnitty.
How does your weekend usually look?
It always depends on whether I am playing step-mum for the weekend. If it’s a family weekend, we usually bike ride along the beach front, have a picnic and snuggle with a Disney movie on or a barbecue on our balcony. If I have the weekend to myself, it’s usually yoga first thing both Saturday & Sunday. Following that I love heading to any of the local markets with a takeaway coffee. Sometimes I might go for a hike, catch up with mates or go for a beach walk with a girlfriend. I do also love going to the movies with mum. But when we are feeling adventurous we take our Combi to Brunswick Heads for the night!
Picture the scene: it’s your team’s game night, and you and your crew are more than keen to catch the action in a location with full coverage, the coldest of beers, and a sprinkling of outstanding food options. Anything less would be a colossal failure, right? Seeking down such establishments that are solely devoted to delivering these things is not always the most straightforward task. But at the same time, neither is it impossible! Luckily for you, we’ve done our homework and compiled a list of the best sports bars on the Gold Coast to enjoy the action while adequately showing your support for your team. Shouting at screens may or may not be included.
The Star Sports Bar
Many would say this place is in pole position as the Gold Coast’s premier sports bar venue, and we think that’s rightly deserved. If the 23 large screens, private (pre-bookable) booths and a gigantic 10.5-metre screen aren’t impressive enough, you should be swayed by the coldest beer around and a multitude of nearby food outlets for you to fuel up pre-game or celebrate your team’s victory.
Where: The Star Gold Coast, Main Gaming Floor, 1 Casino Drive, Broadbeach
Crafty’s Sports Bar
Aptly positioned at the northern Gold Coast’s prime shopping outlet Harbour Town, Crafty’s gives you the option of mixing shopping with seeing whatever sporting event you might be into. Or, if it’s better suited, the chance for you or your partner to do so whilst the other takes their time with over 200 stores. Make plans to grab some essentials and then settle in with some fantastic food and craft beers. Score!
Where: Harbour Town Eats – 147/189 Brisbane Road, Biggera Waters
The Sporting Globe Bar and Grill
Part of a sizeable chain of sporting bars across the country, these guys certainly know how to look after sporting fans. Apart from expansive coverage of all the action, there are food specials every day of the week, and if you’re seeing the Gold Coast Titans game at the Cbus Stadium, come in beforehand for a drink, and these guys will even take you there and back. How good is that?
Where: Robina Town Centre, 19 Robina Town Centre Drive, Robina
Burleigh Town Hotel
This one is a real showstopper, boasting a zhuzhed up modern bistro and the sports bar to end all sports bars. The newly renovated Burleigh Town Hotel is the ideal destination to catch all of the sports action. Featuring a state-of-the-art 11-metre mega screen… It’s the biggest pub screen in the southern hemisphere and if you think that’s impressive, have a go of the suspended cylinder screen promising perfect viewing from every vantage point #jawdrop.
Where: Tsipura Drive, Burleigh Heads
This hotspot is more renowned as the place you head to take the night up a gear with vibrant music, entertainment, and drinks specials. And that’s a fair comment. However, should you want a great place to catch the next big fight with eating options and the ever so easy decision of sticking around and partying till the small hours, it’s a slam dunk!
Where: 3-15 Orchid Avenue, Surfers Paradise
On the southern end of the Coast, The Coolangatta Hotel is the prime location to catch any sporting activities and be assured of a buoyant and passionate atmosphere. Pair it with a splash and lounge on one of Coolangatta’s famous golden beaches, and then be sure to stick around for the post-game live music, and you are onto a hole in one.
Where: Marine Parade, Coolangatta
How does an American-style sports bar with a Gold Coast twist sound? Too good to be true, right? Wrong. Because you need to look no further than Fat Freddy’s on Broadbeach’s Surf Parade. Grab a highchair at the bar and enjoy unhampered views of seven screens overhead as bartenders look after you with libations galore and a polished bar snacks menu which should make getting up to leave your seat an arduous feat if you ask us!
Where: 50 Surf Parade, Broadbeach
If you’ve driven past the good ‘ole Ashmore Tavern recently, you’ll have noticed it’s looking anything but ‘ole these days. Undergoing an extreme makeover, we’re not just talking a lick of paint and a few trusty Kmart prints, but an epic $5 million reno sporting some serious a la mode flex. There are sleek new indoor and outdoor dining spaces and a large sports bar with an adjoining balcony. With big screens showing sports daily you’ll never miss a moment of the biggest sporting events at the Sports Bar.
Where: 161 Cotlew Street, Ashmore
Words by Alex Mitcheson & Belinda Symons.
She is a force to be reckoned with and she is the female voice behind Gold Coast’s number one radio Breakfast Show on 1029 Hot Tomato. Add to that, she is the newly appointed ‘Tanya’ in the upcoming Gold Coast production of MAMMA MIA! The Musical (produced by GC Local Matt Ward). Emily Jade O’Keeffe is a woman of many talents, so it was only fitting that we interviewed the Gold Coast sweetheart ahead of her taking to The Star Gold Coast’s stage from Saturday 19th June this year. We chat about her career, her loves of the Gold Coast and what it will be like preparing for her new role!
How long have you been a Gold Coast local?
I’ve lived here on and off for 18 years now, the last stint has been for the last 9 years.
Tell us a bit about your career to date.
I’ve been working in the media for the last 25 years. I started in Tasmania in radio and moved all around the country for work; from Tassie to Townsville and everywhere in between. My highlights have been launching 1029 Hot Tomato and having a number one Breakfast Show – Galey, Emily Jade and Christo – here for 7 years now. I also launched Nova in Brisbane and was No 1 for 4 years there. Earlier on, I was working on Mornings with Kerri-Anne and with Channel 9 for 5 years. I also wrote during that time for the Courier Mail for a number of years both in print and being one of their first bloggers (when blogging became a big thing) as ‘Emily Everywhere’ which became their most-read blog.
What career achievement are you most proud of?
I don’t have one I’m most proud of, I’ve been happy with every stage and what they all led to each time. My career has kept me busy and happy and fulfilled at every step. I feel really blessed to have been able to evolve and change and grab each opportunity as it came.
Growing up you performed in a variety of musicals and have been described as a self-confessed ‘drama nerd’, what initially drew you to the stage?
Both my grandfathers were performers. My grandad on my mum’s side was very musical and in bands and my grandad on my dad’s side was an amateur actor. That trickled down to both my Dad and Mum. I watched Dad act in local theatre and Mum play piano daily, so I was always around music and drama and I guess it was both nature and nurture in my family. I then continued the tradition but monetised it in the end by making it my full-time career.
What are you looking forward to most about your upcoming role as ‘Tanya’ in the Gold Coast production of MAMMA MIA! The Musical?
It’s come at a time where I needed some healing and fun after a marriage breakdown and as I get used to a new normal and new family dynamic, I really was searching for some light at the end of the tunnel. This gives me a chance to laugh and have fun with new amazing people and do what I love best, which is perform and make people smile.
What is your all-time favourite ABBA song and why?
That’s like asking who is your favourite child – I can’t answer that one. I love them all! ABBA Gold was the first CD I ever got. I got it for Christmas and if CDs could wear out, that one nearly did.
How much preparation goes into playing your part as ‘Tanya’?
I think Tanya is a lot like me, so some parts will come naturally, she’s cheeky, fun but loving and a fierce friend and that’s me. I just need to nail the dance moves and singing, rehearsals start soon so I’ll let you know.
How do you choose to spend your weekends?
I just love keeping it low key with lots of family time with the kids, parents and friends of my kids which involve good cheese and wine in friends backyards or my backyard while the kids play in the pool or run around having adventures, while we chill and chat.
Mamma Mia! The Musical opens on Saturday 19th June 2021 at The Star Gold Coast, grab your tickets here.