Geoff Field’s Life On Air
The following piece is an excerpt from an article that originally appeared in the Gay News Network, written by Serkan Ozturk.
Geoff Field is a man who, if you’ve never heard of, you most likely will have heard from.
He has been on our airwaves ever since he was in his teens. From covering the trial of the Anita Cobby murderers, the death of Princess Diana and the impeachment of US President Bill Clinton, to the election of Julia Gillard to the country’s top job, Geoff has been there and voiced that.
For all of that, however, Geoff too knows what it’s like to be the subject of news. Becoming the nation’s first openly gay newsreader and taking part in a public ‘illegal gay wedding’ on national radio are likely to do that.
Sitting inside the tastefully decorated apartment along the Parisian end of Potts Point in Sydney’s east he shares with his husband Jason Kerr and their cat Princess Moet, Geoff recalls how his life’s course was shaped when he was about sixteen while living with his family in the South Coast region of New South Wales.
“My father was best friends with the station’s general manager in Nowra where I grew up."
“One morning, the newsreader was sick. I was still going to school and I got called in to read the news.”
Two weeks later, the newsreader left. And just as he was finishing his School Certificate, Geoff was offered the job.
“And I’ve never been out of radio since then. I have always been in a newsroom. If I was to lose my job as a newsreader I don’t know what I’d do. I have been doing it since 1981.”
Learning the media ropes in Nowra, Geoff moved to Wollongong before eventually settling down in Sydney where jobs with 2SM and 2UW would lead him to the city’s leading news-talk station 2GB. And there, once again in the confines of a radio station, the course of his life changes – Geoff met Jason for the first time in December 1992.
Fresh out of school, Jason was working in his first job in radio, answering 2GB’s phones from midnight to dawn.
“I’d been there for a few months and one night, someone said there’s a new newsreader in for overnight. I didn’t think too much of it but then the lift doors pinged and out walked Geoff and I thought, ‘Hello’!
“The crazy thing was for about three or four months I had no idea Geoff was gay because he was so butch.
“We started going out for breakfast, as you do when you’re working from midnight to dawn. One night we took the big step and went out for dinner. We ended up sitting on the hallway of the old Exchange Hotel listening to Kylie. I knew he was gay then.”
Soon after, they moved to a small unit in Elizabeth Bay and have been inseparable since.
“If the truth be known,” Geoff says, “from that night on, Jason and I have never been apart and I’m very proud about that”.
Such commitment and devotion were in full public display in 2005 when Geoff and Jason took part in a marriage ceremony, billed then as Sydney’s first ‘illegal gay wedding’. The event was broadcast live across the nation on Austereo and Network Seven. While some have labelled it as a cheap ratings stunt, for Geoff, “it was one of the most amazing days”.
“We’ve still got the emails in support proudly kept away in our home – 25,000 of them,” he says.
“Two weeks after we got married, I went to address a youth function. After the event there was a knock on the door from a young guy who told me that, thanks to our marriage, he got the courage to come out as gay to his dad.”
The event remains strong in Geoff’s memory perhaps because it came not long after he had publicly come out as gay while in the role of newsreader on 2DayFM’s popular late afternoon drive show in 2004, then hosted by Kyle Sandilands and Jackie O.
Geoff had been with Austereo, the station that owns 2DayFM, since 1997, and felt it was time to be publicly open about his sexuality.
“It was showing people back in those early days that, yes, I was gay and I wasn’t ashamed of it,” he says.
It earned him the moniker of ‘Geoff the gay newsreader’ but Geoff says, “it kind of worked”.
“It got the message out to people that I was just like anyone else with all my weaknesses, foibles and all the rest of it. After the third year, I just became ‘Geoff the newsreader’ or simply ‘Geoff Field’.”
Geoff spent seven years with Kyle and Jackie O before he left the show in mysterious circumstances in April 2010 amid claims he was being bullied by the show’s host, Kyle Sandilands. False suggestions by Sandilands that he was drunk on air became the apparent tipping point for the newsreader to leave the show after years of being the butt of jokes.
Though why he left the show is still the question asked of him the most, Geoff says his life and career have never been better since moving to the afternoon shift where he presents the news on both Fifi and Jules show, and Hamish and Andy.
“I’m on at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, 6pm and plus I do some entertainment reports for The Dirt. I love doing that shift,” Geoff says.
The article talks more about how Geoff gives back to the community and describes the latest rally for marriage equality that he and partner Jason will be part of this weekend.
Read the full article by Serkan Ozturk here