Since Graeme Goodings was a young boy, he had his sights set on a career in radio. After various stints at newspapers, radio and TV stations across Victoria, Tasmania and South Australia, Graeme became a staple in Adelaide homes each weekday night while reading Channel 7’s nightly news with Jane Doyle for 15 years.
A cancer diagnosis in 2004, followed by the shock news in 2014 that his contract at Seven would not be renewed after 34 years with the station meant Graeme had to pivot rewriting his own career, firstly launching a TV production, public speaking, and media training company.
Now, aged 73, Graeme has found his way back to his first love in radio, reading the news on 5AA on Saturday mornings (which goes hand-in-hand with a 4am wake-up call) and filling in regularly for 5AA’s talkback radio hosts.
However, as you’ll read in this chat – that’s not all that is keeping Graeme busy.
You’ve been sharing the news with Australians for over 50 years. What are some of the biggest stories you have covered?
As an on-road journalist it was the Ash Wednesday bushfires. It was devastating for people in the Adelaide Hills. One day the fire was 500 meters away from where our crew was. From the intensity of the heat and the wind you could feel it almost burning your skin. I remember thinking of the firefighters who were right on the frontline. It was horrendous.
Other stories, September 11 was momentous, I was covering that from the news desk, as was I for the Bali bombings and Princess Diana’s death.
On a lighter note, the Adelaide Crows’ two Premierships in 1997 and 1998. Channel 7 sent me over to Melbourne for the week leading up to the ‘97 and ‘98 grand finals to cover the buildup and that was just remarkable. The euphoria the wins brought to Adelaide was incredible.
I’m an ambassador for the Crows. I have emceed their luncheons, functions, and special events. Today, if they need me at short notice to do something, I do. I was there when the club started, and I feel part of the club.
You must have met incredible people along the way, whose story has inspired you?
Many have inspired me but the first that comes to mind is Jessica Watson, she was 16 years old when she sailed around the world solo. My kids were around the same age as she was at the time. I remember interviewing Jessica at a function, there were probably 500 people there and everyone was just spell bound.
The fact that A, her parents would allow their 16-year-old daughter to sail solo around the world, and B, she did it through monstrous storms. Wow! She was inspirational.
In 2004 you were diagnosed with bowel cancer. Who and what helped you throughout your treatment?
I had a lovely life, a very comfortable lifestyle, a wonderful family, the top rating news program in Adelaide, what could go wrong? Well, it did. When you’re told you’ve got a life-threatening disease, suddenly nothing else matters.
I had eight months of an awful time. I had all sorts of treatment with chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which was unpleasant, but I’m still here so that’s amazing and now my health is really good.
You can’t get through something like cancer, or a life-threatening disease, without a lot of help. I couldn’t have done it without my family – my wife Eve, my kids, and of course the doctors and nursing staff.
I also credit having a positive attitude. It doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’re going to live any longer, but you’ll have a better quality of life. This is the essence of my community talks for cancer support groups, Rotary, and through my Cancer Council ambassadorship. You’ve got to face the reality that it is life threatening, but there is so much you can do, so much help you can get and if you tackle it with the right attitude, you’re on the way to recovery.
How has your role as a dad changed as your children have grown up?
I once asked my mum, “At what age do you stop worrying about your kids?” And she said, “You’re 60 and I still worry about you!”
Our eldest boy Will is on 5AA’s breakfast program, our second son works in hospitality, and the youngest, our daughter is a teacher with a young child.
As your children get older you become an observer and you step back a little. You’re still there for them obviously, but they’re independent – they fly free.
We all get together on birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, and so forth, and they give us the occasional call of, ‘Dad/Mum can you help us with this? Got a problem with the car or take us to the airport.’ It’s nice to still feel needed by them.
My wife and I love babysitting our granddaughter. I’ve heard lots of people say that you love your children with a passion, but the love of a grandchild is different again. It’s on a different level.
What do you want to achieve in the next five years?
I’m just undertaking a new venture – audio books and e-books. I was approached to make an e-book narration of ‘A man called Possum’ a story my late-uncle Max Jones, who was a detective in the Riverland, wrote of a recluse who lived along the banks of the Murray River.
And podcasting – I love podcasting. The thing with free to air radio is your show has a broad brush because the audience has lots of interests, but with podcasts you can target your content to people’s exact interests.
I know some older people feel intimidated on how to access podcasts, but I am working to break down these barriers and create content of interest to them.
From e-books to social media and podcasts, as you mentioned above, the way we consume news and current affairs has changed. How have you remained up to date with these trends?
You just have to, no matter what’s a good idea today it will change in the future and suddenly people won’t want that. You must reinvent yourself all the time.
Part of the reason I love doing news is the technology and how it evolves. It can sometimes be a challenge to learn how it works, but this keeps the brain stimulated.
I’ve built a podcast studio at Glenelg and in my own home. I’ve got a video production studio with my business partner, with cameras, green screens, able to stream live on the internet – the lot. I love technology.
For you, what makes a good life?
I think having a reason to get up in the morning, having a challenge and interests is very important.
Obviously, your health – particularly when you’ve had a health issue – you realise how important good health is. And finally having family and friends around you, not only whom you can rely on and lean on, but who are also there for you to provide support for and wisdom to.