How I Made It

Jax Irwin, Radio Host

FLARE #HowIMadeIt celebrates 100+ talented, ambitious and driven Canadian women with cool jobs. Want what Jax has? Here's how she did it

Jax Irwin headshot

(Photography: Emma Kopstein)

Jax Irwin; Toronto; @jaxonair

Let’s say we’ve just met at a cocktail party. How would you describe, in a nutshell, what you do?

I chat on the radio—KiSS 92.5—trying to make people laugh for a living. I also keep folks updated on pop culture and all things Toronto.

 Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to school in Halifax, at Nova Scotia Community College, for Radio and Television Arts.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

I went all the way to Prince George, B.C. with one suitcase for my first full-time, paid radio gig. I had never even been to British Columbia before, and I went out there because I needed to get experience.  I had done a bit of radio work at a station when I was in school, but this job—as a host on a rock station—was my first full-time gig after I graduated.

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

My big break came two years ago when I was hired by KiSS 92.5. After one year of work in B.C., I moved back to Halifax to work with an amazing station, with the goal of moving to Toronto; I’ve loved KiSS since I was in college, and Toronto has always been my dream. I sent up a demo tape and did a lot of finger-crossing, after which the program director got in touch with me. I flew to meet her and speak more about the position and the station, and she thankfully took a chance on me—the rest is history!

Describe the moment in which you first realized, I think this is actually going to work out?

When I could pay my bills and actually have enough money to go out for beers with my buds. I was like, “Alright! I can talk for a living and pay my rent, and I can still leave my apartment.”

What would you say has been your biggest failure or shortcoming, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

When I was in college, I applied for a gig out west and I was really excited about it, but it turned out I didn’t get it. I took it pretty hard, but then I realized the only thing to do in those situations is to work even harder. Things happen for a reason—had I gotten the first gig, I may not have had the chance to go back to Halifax and work with all of the fantastic people I did, an experience which ultimately led me here, to Toronto.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Always be kind, and never say no. If you’re employed in media, you’re very fortunate and you need to remember that. Do everything that you’re asked to do and then do more, and in the wise words of Kendrick: “Be humble.”

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

To say no to things that you don’t want to do or to things that aren’t convenient for you.

Did you deal with barriers in your field because you are a woman? If so, what were they?

100 percent. We have to go a little bit further and prove ourselves even more. I do think it’s getting better and better, and I can confidently say that radio and media is full of badass, powerhouse females. There are certainly a lot of ladies in the industry that have paved the way, and I’m so grateful for that, but we definitely have to fight to prove ourselves—why we’re here and why we should be here—in a way that men don’t.

Are you making a fair income for your work? Why or why not? Do you have a side hustle for extra cash? If so, what is it?

Yes—thankfully I can do what I love and be paid for it. I don’t have a side hustle, because we need to be flexible when we’re off the air. Some weeks, I need to be available at the drop of a hat, so there’s not any time for me to do anything else.  

What’s the worst stereotype you’ve heard about millennials at work?

That we’re lazy and unappreciative. I think that’s so untrue—we’re the ones riddled with student debt and having to work even harder. I have no idea where the laziness stereotype hatched from. Our generation can’t buy houses and have debt.  

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