August’s Awesome Woman of the Month: Rachel Belle
She stood at the fountain with her eyes closed, tossed in a penny, and made a wish.
Her wish? Pizza.
As a young girl, when Rachel Belle made that wish at the fountain, she was wishing for dinner, but she was really wishing for something bigger. She was asking to be surrounded by something she loves. Food just happens to be one of the many things Rachel loves, and, today, as a well-known reporter and personality on KIRO FM’s The Ron & Don Show, it’s something she gets to talk about a lot. On her weekend show, Ring My Belle Weekends, she often interviews cookbook authors and chefs, and even talks about Girl Scout Cookies! It’s not all about food, though. For this radio journalist, it’s about people. It’s about the sharing of stories, and the making of connections. It’s about heart, truth and emotion. Mostly, it’s about a dream come true.
Rachel says she has found her dream job. She loves coming in to work, and finds great joy in what she does. But things weren’t always this way. She had to work hard to get to where she is today – including masquerading as a country music DJ when she had no clue about country music, and reporting about subjects she didn’t really connect with – but that was all a part of her journey. And she’s here to tell girls (and women) everywhere, that anything is possible. Nothing is out of reach. It may seem difficult and frustrating at times to get to where you want to go, but just keep going, because it’s true what they say: the journey really is the reward.
In her own words, here’s the story of Rachel Belle’s journey:
I was in Girl Scouts from the age of 5 to 13. My mom kind of forced me to stay in Girl Scouts in the later years, but some of the girls in my troop were so cool that I loved getting to see them. An older girl with blue hair and perfect handwriting would make me mixed tapes and introduced me to grunge music. When I wanted to quit, because kids at school teased me for wearing my uniform, my mom would convince me that it doesn’t matter what people think, or if they make fun of me for something I believe in (like the fact that I said Mariah Carey was my hero in 6th grade!). If you love something – Girl Scouts or whatever it is – just try to do it anyway. If you have friends and you enjoy it, keep doing it. I’m so glad I never quit Girl Scouts.
I always knew I wanted to do something in media. I’m a curious and outgoing person, and I love to talk to people. When I was five, I would record radio shows on a tape recorder in my room and be the DJ and sing all the songs. When I went to college, I thought I wanted to be a movie director, but I didn’t really know what that meant – it just sounded cool. I went to Chico State in northern California, and studied media arts and creative writing. I had an internship my junior year at a news talk station and instantly loved it. Everybody was so snarky and interesting and smart and funny. After the internship, I convinced them to hire me and I was on the air right away. They let me be a country music DJ, despite the fact that I had no knowledge of country music. During my three years at this cluster of radio stations, I got to be a reporter, anchor and a DJ on a contemporary music station (“80s, 90’s and today!”). I didn’t last long on the country station!
I moved on to be a radio reporter in Sacramento for one-and-a-half years, and then got a job as a reporter in Seattle in 2005. I worked at KIRO for three years, bringing my total years as a news reporter to eight. But I wanted something that better suited my personality, and hard news was not it. I was tired of the murders and old lady kitchen fires, of working holidays and nights. So I quit my job, and boarded a plane for Croatia the next day. My boyfriend at the time quit his job, and we did some more traveling. I started taking improv classes, did stand-up comedy for the first time and spent a year and a half having fun. Then I decided to move to Japan to teach English for a year.
I thought I was done with radio, but when I returned to the U.S., I had three job offers – at three different radio stations! I had worked with Ron and Don at KIRO FM, and they knew my style, and what I really wanted to be doing, and created my current position for me. I get to by myself on the air and create feature pieces about topics that I find interesting. Once again, I get to work with the snarky, interesting, smart and funny people who tend to populate news stations.
Toward the end of my time as a reporter, I was always checking my watch, counting the seconds until I could go home. Now I don’t care if I have to stay late to do something, because I love my work. I walk out of the studio smiling or laughing every day. I can’t believe I found my perfect job.
It’s taken many years of hard work and terrible shifts (3 a.m.-11 a.m. – yick). In the radio business, you have to work your way up. It’s all about personal relationships and the people who liked and believed in me have helped me at every station along the way. People saw something in me and wanted to help me grow. I learned that I didn’t have to leave the industry to find something I love – there’s always a cooler side of the pillow to flip to.
Rachel’s advice to girls trying to figure out who they are and what they love:
“I may not have always known who I was, but I was funny, so I knew I would use that. Use what you have. There’s a fine line between bragging and just being your best self.”
“Manners are important, but don’t get nervous. People want to relate to each other. Just be yourself.”
“Without taking a risk, you can’t have change.”
“You don’t have to do anything crazy, but sometimes changing something will make a big difference in your life. I am a Scrabble nerd, and I made up a Scrabble analogy: Sometimes you have to throw in all your letters, and pick new ones. That’s what I felt like I did when I quit my job, and great things came from taking that risk.”
“If you love something, keep doing it.”