Ipswich talent goes viral on Chinese TV and radio
A CASE of being in the right place, at the right time landed a former Ipswich schoolboy a number one hit and an audience of millions as a Chinese radio and television host.
For the past few years former, West Moreton Anglican College student Harry Harding or "Hazza" as he known to his fans has worked as a television and radio host at the largest television network in Guangdong Province in China, Guangdong Radio and Television.
He hosts the daily news show Guangdong News Now and the English news bulletin the Guangdong Report, as well as a number of talk shows including China Chats and FaceTime where he interviews diplomats and business leaders.
"I once co-hosted a live show in Chinese that was watched by more than 30 million people and I also work on a comedy program Little Ma Big Ha where we discuss cultural differences between China and the west," he said.
So how did the WMAC school captain, and Griffith Arts and Applied Linguistics graduate come to be the only Australian in his field in Guangzhou?
Funnily enough, his break came while holidaying in China.
After posting a number of cover videos online, Harry signed with a record label, and an invite to be interviewed on television led to a permanent hosting gig at GDTV.
"When I was younger I used to sit in front of the TV and turn on the subtitles, reading them out and pretending I was the host. I was always envious of the newsreaders and thought that I would never get an opportunity to work in this field," he said.
Harry has since released several singles on the Chinese music charts. The first, Let Go reached number one and stayed on the Guangzhou New Music Charts for 11 weeks.
His videos have gained more than 50 million hits on Chinese video sharing websites.
Lunchtimes in the schoolyard listening to Chinese friends regale him with tales from home is where Harry was first introduced to the culture.
"They told me all about China and their lives there which really fascinated me," he said.
"I bought an album of the Chinese singer Jay Chou in China Town. It frustrated me that I couldn't understand the lyrics so I decided to learn Chinese.
"I never imagined that one day I would actually be singing the songs."
Though he couldn't name a single moment as his career highlight, Harry said performing at the same concert as Chinese superstar JJ Lin was a moment he would remember for the rest of his life.
"The past few years have been a whirlwind and I have been able to travel to many different countries to film documentaries and special episodes of our show," he said.
"Through my work I have met many amazing people, including former prime ministers, diplomats and celebrities. I am truly grateful that at 27 years old I can already say that I have worked in my dream job."
As for whether he had plans of returning to work in Australia Harry said he planned to stay in China for the "foreseeable future".
"I will always call Australia my true home, but for the foreseeable future I still see myself working and living in China," he said.
"GRT, the network that I work for, signed an MOU with the ABC last year so I'm looking forward to working closely with the ABC in the future. I do hope that one day there will be a position available for me in the television industry if I ever do decide to return to Aust- ralia but for now I am very happy and satisfied where I am."
Promoting Australian talent
WHILE there are no plans to return to Australia anytime soon, Harry isn't letting go of his roots so easily.
"I hope that one day I get to interview Jessica Mauboy as I have been a huge fan of hers ever since she featured on Australian Idol all those years ago," he said.
"I have played her songs on the radio a few times here in China so I hope I can promote her music enough that she has a reason to visit Guangzhou in the future."
If a legion of fans wasn't enough incentive to visit China, Harry promised anyone in Australia who liked Chinese food would be "wowed" by the real deal.
Trophy cabinet expands
THE past year has been jam-packed for Harry who has added a swag of accolades to his trophy cabinet, including The First Prize for China Journalism Award.
Not only is the award the most prestigious journalism award in China, but Harry is also the first Australian to receive it.
This year, Harry also claimed the Guangdong Provincial Journalism Award and was awarded the Young Australia China Alumni Award.
"It is nice to be recognised for my work in a foreign country," he said.
"I was nominated (for the Young Australia China Alumni of the Year award) along with many other outstanding nominees who have all contributed hugely to promoting the Australia-China relationship."