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Kate Holland (nee Bailey) graduated from Pembroke in 1992, with a deep love of literature and writing thanks to several influential teachers. She went on to study English Language and Literature at The University of Adelaide.

31 October 2023

Since then, she's been a publicist, a copywriter, a musician, and a long-time radio producer at ABC Radio Adelaide. She's now a freelancer running her own business, KTB Communications, helping people to communicate on paper, platforms, podcasts, and in person.

We caught up with Kate to find out a little more about what she’s been up to since leaving Pembroke.

Kate, where did your interest in literature and writing stem from?

Good question. I’m not entirely sure. I was an avid reader growing up and I’m sure Mum and Dad encouraged that. Dad used to tell us fantastic stories about his life growing up in the outback and Mum exposed us to lots of great movies and theatre. So, I was surrounded by storytelling, and it spoke to me, I guess. Plus, several of my most influential teachers taught me English. They showed me how words can be both beautiful and incredibly powerful.

You worked at the ABC as a Radio Producer for over 20 years. What did you enjoy about this role?

Radio is such a wonderful medium. It’s so raw and real. Former colleague and friend, John Vincent, used to describe the talkback art form as “infotainment”. He was right. Our job was to inform and to entertain. Striving to get this mix right was a wonderful challenge. As a curious person, I also loved how radio gave you a reason to investigate the lives of strangers. Everyone has interesting stories to share. On top of all that, radio is such an important connector. There were plenty of people who turned to us for support and company, and I never took that responsibility for granted.

Music seems to have played a big part in your life too. What do you play? Have you worked on a project where you were able to combine your two passions – music and literature/writing?

It has. I’m a very part-time singer and piano player these days but I learnt piano from a young age and was in the Australian Girls Choir before leaving to join the Pembroke Girls’ Choir. Post-school, I joined a band called Special Patrol (constantly wishing I’d learnt to improvise more in my younger years). Most importantly, the band introduced me to my husband who plays the guitar. Earlier this year, I applied for the inaugural SA Music Writer’s Lab and won myself a spot. I spent several days learning the art of music journalism and was mentored by some very talented writers, including Sose Fuamoli, Angela Skujins and William Oakeshott. Part of the process involved spending the whole weekend taking in WOMAD and then pitching a feature story and a review. I’ve never been so hyper-aware at gigs. It was both fascinating and exhausting. I hope to write about the artistic space more and more.

You have started your own Communications business – KTB Communications. How did this come about, and can you tell us a bit about some of the exciting projects you’ve been working on?

I’d long harboured a desire to be a writer. My time at the ABC was so varied, stimulating, and wonderful, but I could sense a need to try something new. I needed to carve out my future, not ride out my future. So, when the chance came to try some writing I leapt at it. Six months later, it didn’t feel right to split my focus, so I left ABC to concentrate on writing full-time. Since then, I’ve worked on some fantastic projects across an array of industries. Everything from helping an aged care provider recruit nurses into palliative care, promoting a podcast on the crisis in the veterinarian industry, helping musicians to nail their pitch, and writing stories on university researchers making plans to change the world. The diversity is great. Via writing, my love of learning is continuously stoked. And I still muck around with audio too. I edit podcasts for PodTalk and record audio life stories for a company called A Lasting Tale. (Truth: writing profiles is one of my favourite things to do!)

Now to your time at Pembroke! Are there any favourite memories you’d like to share?

Lots! I loved my time there. For one, I was incredibly lucky to travel to Europe with the choir when I was in Year 10. Audiences were so appreciative they stomped their feet for more in churches where they weren’t supposed to even clap. We had an incredible repertoire, sang in about seven languages, and managed to join the Tapiola Choir on stage in Finland. Beating Geelong Grammar in a netball tournament in Victoria was pretty sweet too. They were notorious for winning it. Ray Clark (one of those aforementioned influential English teachers) was our coach, armed mostly with footy tips, and seeing him beam with pride was the best.

Finally, if you think back to your time as a Pembroke student, what advice would you give your 17-year-old self?

STOP PROCRASTINATING! While coping under pressure is a handy skill, I know my work could have been a lot better if I hadn’t done so much of it at the last minute. Time to check is invaluable. Also, lean into opportunities with everything you’ve got and fight the fear of judgment just as hard. You’re far more likely to do your best if you focus on you.