Radio’s best AM newsreaders on fake news & the importance of experience

Experience is the keyword when you look at this year’s ACRA nominations for Best News Presenter (AM).

The five nominees had a combined experience of around 100 years and included winner Erin Maher, Amie Meehan, Denis O’Kane & Georgia Holland.

Radio Today spoke with each of the 2019 nominees, and winner Mel Usher

Mel Usher

This year’s ACRA winner, FiveAA’s Mel Usher, is a ‘relative’ newcomer to news presenting. She walked a slightly different path to reading news on Adelaide’s #1 breakfast show.

“I started in commercial radio in 1997 handing out ‘icy cold cans of coke’ for Triple M Adelaide. I moved into producing and announcing – eventually settling into news with a cadetship at FiveAA in 2000.

“I’ve worked at Mix 102.3, SAFM, Hit 107 and Nova 91.9. I returned to the FiveAA newsroom in 2017 where I currently read breakfast for David & Will.”

Erin Maher

2GB news director Erin Maher started in the ‘in the bush’ before getting her Sydney break in 1999. She says while journalism has presented some great opportunities, she’s tired hearing ‘fake news’ bandied about.

“I think the term is losing a lot of impact due to over-use. Journalists and producers work hard to make sure their stories are accurate.

“They know the audience relies on the information we broadcast, and there is the potential for damage to reputations if they get it wrong. It can be frustrating for an entire report to be dismissed as ‘fake news’ when we pride ourselves on getting it right.”

Amie Meehan

2GB’s Afternoon and Drive reader/editor Amie Meehan advises those aspiring to a career in talkback radio to take every opportunity to ‘consume’ news and not to be afraid of asking a ‘dumb’ question.

“How can you write a story if you don’t understand it? There is no such thing as a stupid question, just stupid mistakes!

“I was interviewing a state government minister about a finance policy and I didn’t understand what they were saying. I asked them to tell me again in laymen’s terms – the minister admitted they also weren’t really sure.”

Denis O’Kane

3AW’s Denis O’Kane began his radio career in 1965. It involved travelling a lot before finding his groove in news. It’s seen him work in both AM and FM radio.

“I started in regional radio in NSW. I did the usual round of country stations before heading to Adelaide where I took on radio journalism.

“I’ve been doing it ever since in varying roles from News Director to what I’m doing now at 3AW as a general reporter and reader. I still get a buzz out of it – especially with our great team.”

Georgia Holland

2GB’s Georgia Holland already has an ACRA under her belt as Best News Presenter (Country). After just two years with the station, she’s about to take up a role with Channel 7.

“No two days in the 2GB newsroom are the same. I’m currently Breakfast editor/newsreader on the weekends, while during the week my role varies between evening newsreader and general reporting.

“In the newsroom, things can change at the very last second and as a newsreader, I have to always be on my toes and ready to adapt. There are many times when I have walked out of the news booth and thought ‘holy crap’.”

With the level of experience represented by this year’s nominees, it shouldn’t be any surprise if we see them nominated again next year.

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