(By Charese Fruge’) Hayley Smith-Rose is the Assistant Program Director for Hot 104.7 Radio Maine where she does nights and also handles promotions and traffic. Her side hustle, Surviving Paradise is a new reality show on Netflix.
“Going into college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, except I knew it had to be music related,” explains Smith-Rose. “On a whim, I applied for an internship at the radio station I grew up listening to, KISS 108 in Boston. I had an exhilarating summer and that’s where I fell in love with the world of radio!”
Smith-Rose earned a bachelor’s degree in music administration at the University of Maine at Farmington. “During my time there, I had the opportunity to be the newsroom intern for KISS 108,” she says. “From there, I went on to be the Executive Sales Coordinator/Promotions & Public Service Director for Mountain Wireless Broadcasting in Maine. After being there from 2013-2015, I began working for Hot Radio Maine, where I have been ever since.”
“As far as some of my biggest accomplishments in the business so far, in 2018, I won a ‘Best Radio Personality’ award in Portland, Maine, which was a huge honor! I’ve had some great artist interviews in my career, including Wyclef Jean, Sean Paul, Steve Aoki, and more; I would consider all of those accomplishments. Being selected out of thousands for a reality show was awesome too. Hoping for some more great accomplishments in 2024!”
How did the Surviving Paradise opportunity come about? “I was extremely lucky enough to compete on the show,” says Smith-Rose. “I originally applied to be on the Netflix show, The Circle. After watching it, I thought I could be good at it, so why not? The production company reached back out to me to say they weren’t currently casting for The Circle, but they had a new show coming up I could apply for. They ended up continuing to call me back interview after interview and next thing I knew, I was in Greece filming a reality show!
“I had a great experience overall on Surviving Paradise. For reality TV lovers, it can best be described as Survivor meets Big Brother, with a dash of Love Island. Twelve contestants, including myself, competed in challenges and had to form alliances with the goal of getting to the end and winning $100,000.”
“As a reality TV super fan myself, it was so cool to see the ins and outs of how a show like that is made. Since it’s still so fresh, it’s hard to say what the effect on my career will be, but I’d say, so far, it’s helped. I’ve gained some new followers on social media from it and hopefully it will also put me out there for more opportunities down the line. In addition to that, as far as pros go, I also got to meet a lot of cool people and got a free trip to Greece!”
For everyone else, ending up on a reality show might seem like nothing but a positive for a radio personality, but for Smith-Rose, it didn’t come without challenges. “I’d say the biggest con is the effect something like this has had on my mental health. Returning to the ‘real world’ after filming was a bizarre experience. Even now, a year and a half after filming, I experience anxiety about things I would’ve never even thought of before. With that being said, I would still do it again; that’s just something to be aware of.
When asked about other challenges, she responds, “If we’re talking day-to-day, I would say anxiety is the biggest challenge I face,” she says. “I think it’s rooted in my need to be a people pleaser and perfectionist. That’s something I’m still working on handling, but a little nighttime edible doesn’t hurt. (it’s legal here in Maine, don’t come for me!)”
“That being said, more than I’m proud to admit! I’m often kept up at night with thoughts of planning for the next day. Being on top of things can be a curse and a blessing; while it helps me in my career, it’s also quite consuming.”
“As a busy body, I’m not always the best person to ask about finding balance, but I try my best! I would say staying super organized is something that helps me find it. I literally have to schedule time to CHILL some months. By keeping myself, and my calendar, organized, I can spot my brief moments of free time and make the most of them.”
Another big challenge for the industry in general is appealing to the younger generation so we can grow our audience. “I think the best way to engage a younger audience is to meet them where they are at, which, for better or worse, is social media,” says Smith-Rose. “Being able to adapt to the times and keep a solid presence, both on air and on social media, is important. In order to bridge the gap, I believe we need to create more opportunities (and interesting positions) for younger people in the industry (for example, paid internships, mentorships, street teams, etc.) It doesn’t hurt to be on a reality TV show either. I’m lucky because I am considered an ‘Influencer’ on radio, social media and reality TV.”
“When it comes to Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in ‘radio,’ I’d like to think we’ve moved the needle some, but we definitely have a long way to go. I haven’t spent enough time in other industries to have a full understanding, but I don’t think the challenges women face in the industry are exclusive to radio. With that being said, it feels like we’re moving in the right direction, and us powerful women aren’t going to be slowing down anytime soon!
“As far as my next big project, I’m all about getting into season 2 of my podcast, Fever Dream Diaries! You can follow me on Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter/X, and TikTok – I am @RadioHaylstorm on everything! I also have a website where I add my artist interviews, upcoming gigs, and more; that is DJHaylstorm.com.