Partway through the interview, Aaron Kearney races out of the soundproof studio. He says he needs to text someone who he's hoping will go on air with him at 3pm - it will be his last weekday broadcast with Newcastle's 1233 ABC radio station. It's somewhere past 1.30pm on Friday, and his hopeful on-air caller hasn't texted back.
"You're two calls from a rooster and a feather duster in this job," he says, stepping back into the room. "Two calls go your way, and you're a rooster. Two calls go against you - feather duster."
Later, he would joke about an old piece of journo advice: "Journalists," he says, "are constantly looking for three data points." Three days go your way and you're unbeatable. But three lousy days could spell imminent doom. "Three data points is a trend."
Kearney has spent 15 years broadcasting from the studios in Newcastle West, but he still gets nervous before an interview.
"I'm not sure if nervous is quite the right word for it," he says. "I still get a strong sense of anticipation. Every day, I stand there and think 'I hope I can bring my best today'. So, is it nerves? No. Is it pre-performance low-level anxiety? Yes."
Kearney talks fast. He announces each word, and when the excitement starts spilling over, he doesn't stumble over a sentence, he doesn't break with hesitations - he gets louder; the words more pronounced, his sentences sharper.
"I never set out to get a radio voice," he says. "What I set out to do was to have my voice have the arsenal of weapons that I needed to fully communicate every idea that I had. And this is what I wound up with."
Aaron Kearney: Kicking Tiwi goals; sport in the tropical north
After his 3pm broadcast, he will sign off and step out of the close, still air of the studio and start chasing the story he says he has never reported, but it's the one he cannot leave alone.
"You don't leave an organisation like the ABC and a job as great as this one unless there's something pretty awesome on the horizon," he says. "I essentially have four or five months' work that's so awesome I would never forgive myself if I didn't do it. And I'm backing myself to turn it into something more substantial."
It feels like a quick turn-around for the longtime radio journalist. Only in December, the ABC announced he would take over the weekday Drive program from veteran presenter Paul Bevan. But Kearney says the decision to step away from the microphone has been in the works for a while.
For more than three years, he has been working with ABC's international arm in the Indo-Pacific, bringing a program he designed as part of his masters study to train broadcasters in developing communities. The working title was Commentary for Good; its crowning achievement so far has been training broadcasters for the New Guinea Broadcasting Corporation to commentate the 2015 Pacific Games.
Kearney is now taking a version of the same project to the World Cup with support from FIFA to train indigenous Fijian and Vanuatuan language speakers to commentate on women's games.
"Imagine a woman speaking your language bringing a global event, or a hyper-local event, to you," he says. "We are going to do a hybrid and indigenous language iTaukei Fijian and Bislama Vanuatu indigenous language female commentary of the Women's World Cup back to the Pacific."
Sport is Kearney's passion; the universally "inclusive language" that has the potential to break down political and social barriers. Sport, he says, has opened many doors for him personally and it's no coincidence that his ambitions to affect social change, to forge a better media, are slowly coming together through his first passion.
"At its purest, [sport] is a flat playing field with an independent referee," he says. "[There] are very few other engagement mechanisms that fair, and that generate that much enthusiasm."
Australia could be a world leader in sports diplomacy, he says. His ambition is to see Commentary for Good affecting broad social change, particularly in developing communities.
"Imagine a woman's voice speaking your language with a lived experience but also lacing anti-domestic violence messages through, or explaining why vaccinations are valuable to your children, or how you can get sexual health support without it being known by everybody in your village," he says. "It's a very powerful delivery mechanism, and it simultaneously empowers the message giver and the message receiver."
"The democratisation of disseminating information has been a revolution for the world. It has given voice to people who have never had a voice before. It has broken down power structures that were inept at best and evil at worst," he says. "[But] for all of those shortcomings of the old media system, it took the job of informing a society incredibly seriously. Facts mattered. Accountability mattered.
"The whole concept of the Commentary for Good program that I'm going off to do is a recognition that on the ground in Ghana you can empower a talented group of young women to generate their own football coverage and give people a quality media experience that never would have been available to them before."
Kearney speaks in witty analogies - wrapping his ideas around smaller stories and jokes that make his point. He believes a better media is possible and in the fire and forge of the information age quality journalism is of better value than the quantity of it.
"They say everybody's a journalist now," he says at one point, "and I say everybody's a heart surgeon as well. If you want to give me a knife, I'll have a red hot go for you."
And: "I feel like social media is like when you first get your apprenticeship and you get your first car and then your first pay packet, and you realise you can eat drive-through fast food three meals a day. So you do.
"But somewhere down the track, you know, 20 kilos, a couple of rotten teeth, and no money to show for it, you think: 'eating crap actually isn't a longterm plan'. So, while there has always been, and there will always be, junk food, I feel like we are on a slow but inevitable journey back to a place where people will want some quality in their information diet because if you are what you eat, you think what you read."
Radio was not always in Kearney's sights. As a Year 10 student at St Peter's school in Maitland, he recalls telling a careers advice session how he didn't mind the idea of growing up to be a diplomat.
"They nearly fell off their chairs laughing," he says.
As a young journalist working in newspapers and later television, he didn't give much thought to broadcasting.
"I used to swear black and blue I would never work on radio, and I hated it, and I hated the idea of talkback radio."
But when commuting from Newcastle to Sydney to work for Channel Seven began taking its toll at home, the offer of work at the local commercial radio station couldn't be passed up. Radio, it turned out, was the perfect fit.
"It sounds twee, it sounds low brow, but it isn't," Kearney says. "They gave me a lot of freedom to do a community-focussed show, to really have a forum - a place to talk."
"I have never, not a single minute that I have broadcast, have I ever lost that moment, that sense that people could be doing anything with their time.
"There are video games, there's streaming TV, you know; they could be watching Game of Thrones right now. So, if they're hanging out with me, they deserve the best of me."