It was my first big break – a job To Die For. Like Suzanne Stone in the Gus Van Sant film, I’d convinced my lover to kill my rival.* It was worth it. Finally I was a weekend weather girl.
The year was 1989. I strutted into the studio at Channel 10 in Melbourne wearing pearls the size of ping-pong balls, shoulder pads
that could take an eye out and hair like an electrocuted poodle. But my armour concealed a fragile heart.
Two years earlier I’d been axed as newsreader at a country television station for telling a ribald joke during an ad break. The punchline was, ‘F*#k ’em all!’ At that precise moment, the director got her sleeve caught in the audio fader. (It might have had something to do with the fact that I was sleeping with her boyfriend, but I digress.)
I had just told 220,000 people in the greater Gippsland region to get f*#ked.
Apparently this is not one of the steps recommended by Chris Masters on the path to becoming a credible journalist. The station received three complaints. Two were along the lines of, ‘We thought that newsreader had a stick up her arse but, jeez, she’s
a top bird after all!’ The third was serious. It went to the Australian Broadcasting Authority. I was lucky to keep my job. But I learnt a valuable lesson: Never swear around microphones whilst engaged in adultery. I went back to digging up stories, from the cowpat-pocked paddocks of Bairnsdale to the human equivalent in Moe – the local courthouse.
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To relieve the boredom, I took a job at Channel 9 in Melbourne – the home of Australian television. Living under that same rock was a legendary news director. He was the source of another learning: It’s best to hide under your desk from four to six p.m. every afternoon to avoid being targeted with taunts such as, ‘I want two inches off your hair and two inches off your arse!’ Also avoid open windows, lest you find yourself hanging out three storeys up with these words ringing in your ears: ‘If I have to tell you again that the plural of water cannon is not water cannons, I’m gonna drop you – RIGHT OUT THIS F*#KING WINDOW!’
My female colleagues formed a cabal called the Pussy Mafia, which was nurturing and supportive – two words you don’t usually associate with newsrooms. It worked until our program was axed. This was when I considered whether I could do the weather. It
wasn’t my dream to be a weather bimbo (no offence to any other meteorologically unqualified men or women doing this important job). I wanted to be a war correspondent. But ya gotta pay the bills.