Episode Four - The News Anchor

Episode Four - The News Anchor
James McHale

James McHale

This week Bonnie and Andrea chat to newsreader James McHale.
James trained as a lawyer, and that’s where his career began, before he realised that life at a firm was not for him. He applied for a cadetship at the ABC, and for the following ten years built up a highly successful career in broadcasting. Now, he is one of Western Australia’s most widely recognised and respected faces of the daily news. A long-time holder of one of the most high-pressure desk jobs you can get, James McHale shares what he’s learned in his time commanding a very unique stage: live television.

Firstly James discusses his background: coming from a family of nurses, and how he went from a budding young lawyer to one of Australia’s best-known newsreaders. McHale shares how studying law gave him some useful insights into his personal relationship with work- and the kind of environments he did (and did not) want to work in. He also shared how feeling like an imposter at work and a competitive, paranoid environment affected his confidence.

James shares how he began his career at the ABC: starting with an intense general knowledge test with 200 questions. Himself and another hopeful broadcaster became the first two Perth applicants to pass in three years. And so began James’ career in broadcasting, spending a few years in radio and doing live crosses before his first day behind the desk. Bonnie and Andrea investigate what it takes to be successful on a stage where every potential mistake is broadcast in real time to an audience of thousands. James gamely shares some stories from when it has gone wrong- from technical difficulties to bursting into laughter mid-broadcast.

James also delves into the moments where he feels less confident. It may be surprising for some to learn that this experienced presenter, who speaks to thousands of people each day, becomes nervous in front of smaller crowds. Bonnie and Andrea share their own experiences with crowds, and the differences between performing for thousands of people or merely tens.  James also gives insight on what it’s like to be social as a person who makes an appearance in the living rooms of thousands every day, and how it can be draining in a different way. He also shares his experiences with feedback from the general public, and how he’s learned the hard way to avoid the comments section on social media.

James McHale generously shares a side of himself we don’t get to see on the ABC, and offers some unique insights from an extraordinary career. James is not only one of Australia’s most trusted newsreaders, he’s also very funny and a real treat to listen to.

In this glimpse behind the news desk, it’s comforting to learn that even the most unshakeable public voices can sometimes feel nervous, unconfident, or that they’re faking it. Even the most polished and professional public personas didn’t get there overnight. What we see on the news or the internet is never the full picture, and you never know how many years it took a person to feel comfortable in their own skin, or that they still get nervous at parties. It’s a pleasure to see a different side of James McHale, who proves he is delightful both on and off camera.

Download a full transcript here.