YOU wake up with her on your televisions every morning, but Kylie Gillies spent a decade cutting her teeth in hometown Tamworth before becoming one of the country’s most recognised presenters.
Born and bred in Tamworth, Kylie has since worked as a reporter, producer and presenter all over the world.
Most recognised for her current role co-hosting The Morning Show alongside Larry Emdur, Kylie credits Tamworth and its people for the grounding that’s set her on her path today.
Kylie was born in 1967, and attended Tamworth South Public School and then Tamworth High School, where she was a "very proud" vice captain.
"High school exposed me to public speaking and debating teams, which I used to do on a regional level, and I guess that sparked my interest in a life in media,” Kylie said.
Kylie secured a job at local radio station 2TM straight out of school, working as a researcher on the morning talk-back show.
Just several months later, she was offered a job at NEN, now Prime, where she stayed for 10 years.
She praised the support of mentors Mal McCall and Garth Russell during her time in radio, as well as NEN news director Robin Barlow.
"He really gave me my start,” Kylie said of Robin Barlow.
“I'll be forever grateful that he saw something in a skinny little 17-year-old girl who had all these ambitions and somehow I'm still lucky enough to be working in this terrific industry 30 years later.
"It was such a great grounding for me.
"I loved it, I spent 10 years there, so it wasn't just a stepping stone for me.
“It was fantastic.”
Kylie recalls working “some of the hardest work I've ever worked in my life” during her years in Tamworth, travelling hundreds of kilometres to report on anything from agriculture to weather, court to country music.
After 10 years as a reporter, producer and news presenter for Prime, as well as becoming the face of Northern NSW, she took a gamble in the big smoke.
Kylie moved to Sydney as an assistant producer at Channel 7 at the end of 1995.
"It was a now-or-never moment,” she said.
"I was 28, so thought if it's going to happen, it's going to have to happen now.
"I took a gamble. I rolled the dice and backed myself that while I wasn't going to be on air, that maybe I could prove myself.
"I took a step backward to keep moving forward.
"It was a matter of weeks until I was on air, and I was able to continue working on the late news and then the main 6 o'clock news.”
Kylie has since been a sports news presenter on Sportsworld, a Weekend Sunrise sport presenter, a regular on Seven News.
Her varied roles across the network include everything from hosting the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 to covering the Royal Wedding of Prince William and Catherine Middleton, to covering unfolding events of the Sydney Lint Cafe siege of 2014, from her studio across from it.
Kylie is most recognised for her time on The Morning Show with co-host Larry Emdur, where she’s been for 10 years.
It’s “the variety, the people” she loves most about her current job.
"You never know what's going to happen,” she said.
“It could be politics one minute, floods the next or the Kardashians.
"It's a bit of everything, and that's what I love about it.”
While Kylie has loved her time in Sydney, she still loves the people of Tamworth.
"The people, of course the people,” she said.
"The easy lifestyle, the sense of familiarity.
"It was where I got my first job, where I met my husband, and where we've met our best friends for life.
"We still talk to and catch up with some of those professional colleagues.”
Among them are Mark Ferguson, The Sunday Telegraph editor Michael Carroll, House and Garden editor-in-chief Lisa Green, and Andrew Hornery, the man behind the Sydney Morning Herald's Private Sydney column.
Kylie married the Northern Daily Leader’s former editor Tony Gillies – now the editor-in-chief of Australian Associated Press - in 1989.
"There's still quite a bit of a Tamworth mafia down here working in the Sydney media circles - and I love that,” Kylie said.
"The Tamworth mafia is alive and well working in Sydney."
Looking back on her grounding in Tamworth, it’s the people for which she is most thankful, but interviewing Keith Urban in double denim when he was crowned Toyota Starmaker winner at Tamworth Country Music Festival in 1990 comes a close second.
"I interviewed Keith Urban long before he knew Nicole Kidman...I was the one who got away,” she laughed.