When asked to describe herself using only three attributes, Jenny Salt answers: “I can be quite verbose, I like to laugh and I’m caring.”
Another attribute that could be used is humble. “I don’t want to talk myself up. I can tell you the negative side of things as well,” she volunteers.
If you have listened to the smooth voice of Jenny Salt on her podcast Salt – Conversations with Jenny, you may be fooled into thinking her flawless radio persona is a result of years spent in the industry.
In fact, Salt only ventured into the podcast world a year ago when she became the voice of the Sydney Missionary Bible College (SMBC) monthly podcast in April 2019. Her “day job” is dean of students at SMBC, where she has worked in pastoral roles for the past 24 years.
As it turns out, Salt is a natural on air. Her chats with “ordinary people” (recorded until now in her SMBC office) are reminiscent of ABC Radio’s Conversations or Andrew Denton’s Interview podcasts. But there is a distinct difference: Salt’s interviewees are all Christians.
“There is this beautiful testimony of God’s goodness in every single story, even the painful ones.” – Jenny Salt
“The people who I interview aren’t famous. They haven’t written books. They haven’t done anything extraordinary, but all you have to do is just scratch the surface of their lives and there is this story – this amazing grace of God in these people’s lives, in sometimes really hard circumstances. There is this beautiful testimony of God’s goodness in every single story, even the painful ones,” Salt explains.
Now she will be putting her gifts to greater use as Salt joins the Eternity Podcast Network with a brand-new season of weekly episodes launched today, Friday, March 6.
But before we hear Salt plumb the depths of others’ lives, Eternity thought it timely to interview the interviewer and find out more about our host.
“My family consists of parents, two brothers and a sister, their spouses and six nieces and nephews. I’m not married, so they are my family,” begins Salt, now in her fifties.
She grew up on the north shore of Sydney (with a short stint in Melbourne) and attended the local public primary and high schools in St Ives.
“Mum and Dad were not Christians then, but because they were of a generation where it was good to go to Sunday school, they would drop us off at the local Anglican church, Christ Church St Ives. And so I had the benefit of godly Sunday school teachers and youth group leaders who opened the Bible and taught us about Jesus.”
Salt was invited to make a decision to become a Christian by the church’s minister, who also taught Scripture at her high school.
“I am a conformist and it all made sense to me, so I remember praying the [sinner’s] prayer in a science classroom. Then I continued to be discipled and nurtured by the youth leaders. They were very committed.”
(For the record, Salt’s mum later became a Christian too, and they now encourage each other in the faith and share thoughts on the same Bible studies.)
After school, Salt began a career in nursing, but eventually became tired of the gruelling shift work. So, she and another nursing friend quit their jobs and travelled the world for nine months.
It was while waiting on station platform in Wimbledon in London that Salt had a chance encounter that shaped the next phase of her life. She got chatting to a Qantas flight attendant.
“And I thought, this sounds like a really good job. So I just put it in the back of my mind, but when I got home [to Australia], I thought, ‘Will I go back to shift work where I’m working nights? Well, I might just apply and see if I can see what happens with Qantas.’ So, I applied and I got in. I worked with Qantas for about nine years as a flight attendant.”
During that time, Salt met a man and entered into a serious long-term relationship. However, when marriage was on the cards, she felt compelled to give the relationship over to God.
“I prayed to God, ‘Lord, I don’t want to break up, but if you want me to break up, I will.’ I remember that evening, it was almost like God wasn’t just opening a door, he was pushing me through it …
“To use a flying analogy, I had gone into cruise control. As they used to say to us in terms of safety [in aircrafts], ‘complacency is your worst enemy’, and I had become complacent as a Christian.
“I was reading a book by Philip Yancey called Disappointed with God, and it just hit me square in the heart, and I started to think to myself, ‘Are you a Christian? Yes I am. Are you living as a Christian? More or less. What are you going to do about it? I need to do something.’ I felt like I was at a crossroads.”
“I discovered there’s an art to interviewing. I’ve just learned that through bitter experience and mistakes.” – Jenny Salt
When a few friends suggested Bible college, Salt’s immediate reaction was “I’m not a Bible college type.” However, she came around to the idea as a stop-gap measure until God revealed what he actually wanted her to do with the rest of her life.
She chose SMBC, as a few friends had been there, and enrolled in a two-year diploma course. “And I literally haven’t left,” says Salt, 24 years later.
After receiving her diploma, Salt was appointed dean of women, where she employed her relational skills and discovered a love of mentoring younger Christian women. Now, alongside her current role as dean of students, Salt is studying a graduate certificate in Christian mentoring – adding to the Master of Divinity she completed at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School.
Salt discovered her interviewing talent when she began creating seven-minute “Salt spots”, where she would interview a student or staff member during SMBC chapel services.
“I discovered there’s an art to interviewing. I’ve just learned that through bitter experience and mistakes,” she admits.
It didn’t take long for Salt to master the art of making her interviewees feel comfortable. She would sit down with them to chat beforehand – “and that’s when I’d get the best out of them. We would sit for about half an hour and then I’d have this gold. I thought, if only I could record this, that would be brilliant.”
And that’s how Salt – Conversations with Jenny came into being.
“I also get excited when I think that maybe non-Christians are going to listen … They’re going to hear hope. They’re going to hear joy. They’re going to hear the love of God.” – Jenny Salt
As she looks to this new era for the podcast, Jenny’s excitement is tangible.
“I’m very excited that the podcast will, hopefully, gain momentum …
“I also get excited when I think that maybe non-Christians are going to listen and what are they going to hear? They’re going to hear hope. They’re going to hear joy. They’re going to hear the love of God – and the love of God in a context of quadriplegia, in the context of stage-four cancer, in the context of a child that has died. And you think, ‘Well, how can that be?’
“These stories are just so encouraging. And so I’m excited that there might be a larger audience through Eternity that will take them out further.”
The new season of Salt – Conversations with Jenny has launched on the Eternity Podcast Network – subscribe today!