Just over a year ago, Kate Ritchie pulled off an incredible career feat.
The former child star-turned-radio host stood on stage in front of the cream of the crop of her industry at the Australian Commercial Radio Awards and accepted the award for Best Entertainment Presenter, beating out the likes of Carrie Bickmore and Ryan "Fitzy" Fitzgerald.
Clutching her trophy, a visibly emotional Ritchie — whose turbulent marriage with former NRL player Stuart Webb has been making headlines this week — told news.com.au at the time: "It means a lot because it's been a period of reshaping my career in some ways."
"Reshaping" her career is an understatement.
Usually the "child star" stamp comes with a firm expiry date when the talent in question hits adulthood. But somehow, the girl who grew up in front of Australia as Sally Fletcher on Home And Away leapfrogged the post-childhood fame limbo to establish herself as a bona fide radio star, one-third of Nova's Kate, Tim and Marty.
The hugely popular national drivetime show has scooped up plenty of ACRAs, but the 2018 prize marked Ritchie's first solo gong.
It also smashed any shadow of doubt over whether Ritchie had cemented her place in the industry.
It's something she's grappled with since picking up her first radio shift at Nova in 2007, partnering with then-drive presenter Akmal Saleh.
That on-air stint was relatively short-lived (she was replaced by comedian Cal Wilson in May) but it put her on the radio map.
"In some ways I've always felt like a visitor here in this world, but the more things that continue to happen with Kate, Tim and Marty, where we continue to go from strength to strength … there are all these signs that the universe is telling me maybe I'm not just visiting," she told news.com.au after winning the ACRA in 2018.
But the road to success hasn't been without its dramas for the award-winning presenter, who almost blew her on-air chances with a failed TV gamble.
HOME AND AWAY
Ritchie grew up in front of Australia from the age of eight as Sally Fletcher on Home And Away, quickly becoming one of the most familiar faces on TV.
"I don't remember what it was like to go to school or go to the supermarket or go anywhere and not be approached by strangers or pointed at," she told ABC's Australian Story in 2008.
"Some days that doesn't bother me, you know, and I can talk to everyone and I'll say hello and I'll be at the butchers. But there are other days where I can get in the car and go to the supermarket and then I don't get out of the car and I come home, because I just can't do it."
Twenty years and two Gold Logies later — and after jointly breaking the Guinness World Record for longest continuous role in an Aussie drama series — Ritchie finally said farewell to Summer Bay in 2008.
It was a bold move — but the actress "wanted a challenge".
"I wanted to feel scared and I wanted to feel like I didn't know what I was doing and I wanted someone to teach me something," she told Australian Story.
"I always knew I could do something else but now I'm trying to prove it. I'm not just that girl on Home And Away."
LIFE AFTER SUMMER BAY
When Wilson took over from Ritchie on Nova's drive show in 2007, it was reported that the actress was struggling to juggle her TV and radio commitments — at that point, she was yet to quit Home And Away.
But after finally ditching Sally Fletcher, Ritchie again set her sights on radio.
In early 2008, she was named as Nova 96.9's new breakfast show co-host, alongside Merrick Watts and Tim "Rosso" Ross.
During that time, she kept one foot in the acting pool, picking up the role of Judi Kane in season two of Underbelly.
Nearly two years after joining the radio show, Ritchie announced in November 2009 that she was quitting Merrick, Rosso and Kate to return to her acting roots and star in Nine's new police drama Cops L.A.C.
It was a risky move — and one that unfortunately didn't pay off. The series flopped and was cancelled after just one season.
It led to a quiet few years on the job front for Ritchie. She narrated Channel 10's Don't Tell The Bride before heading back to Home And Away to reprise the role of Sally in 2013 to commemorate the show's 25th anniversary, and was an occasional fill-in host on Nova.
But then came arguably the most significant career turn of her adult life.
In November 2013, it was announced that Ritchie would replace Meshel Laurie on Nova's drive show, co-hosting with Marty Sheargold and Tim Blackwell. As Ritchie said at the time, it was her "dream job".
KATE, TIM & MARTY
Six years on, and the Kate, Tim and Marty show is the number one drive show in the country (if you want to know why they're so popular, news.com.au reporter Andrew Bucklow broke it down a few years back).
In the world of radio, where longevity is often elusive, it's no small feat that the trio — who refuse to interview celebrities and have admitted to mostly winging it — have managed to stay on top of the game.
Especially for Ritchie, whose leap to radio has been nothing short of a smashing success.
"I am proud of what I have achieved throughout this radio adventure of mine," she told news.com.au in 2018. "I certainly haven't mastered it but I have learnt a great deal both on and off the air and Nova keep asking me back so I must be doing something night."