Geoff Field is known as Sydney’s first openly gay newsreader. The Newsroom’s Rachel Adler sits down with him.
I sat outside a little stylish café in Kings Cross called Café Zinc and waited for Geoff Field to arrive. He picked this place since he lives close by and is obviously a regular there from the bright greetings he got from staff. I was nervously waiting, shuffling my notes around. I saw him first, standing on the corner; he couldn’t see me. I approached him and was greeted with a warm hug. We sat down in the corner for some privacy and ordered our drinks. It had been a while since our last chat so we caught up on each other’s lives.
I met Field through mutual contacts and when he found out I wanted to go into radio, he took me under his wing to help me succeed. I’m not the first person he has done with this and I probably won’t be the last. Given his 28 years of experience in the industry, he has gained a wealth of knowledge and is therefore, a great mentor.
Listening to the radio since he was a young boy, he fell in love with it. He knew from the moment he started listening it was what he wanted to do with his life. He started his radio journey at the age of 16 when he joined his local community station 2ST in Nowra.
His natural speaking abilities were recognised by top Sydney radio stations and he moved here to work at 2SM and 2UW. After that stint, he took a job with 2GB where he remained for eight years reading for Ita Buttrose, Derrin Hinch, and the late legendary John Pearce to name a few. During his time as a newsreader, he has covered some huge stories including the trial of the murder of Anita Cobby, the death of Princess Diana, the impeachment of President Clinton and the election that declared John Howard as the Prime Minister.
Field’s career really took off when he found himself reading news for Kyle and Jackie O in 2004. That was when he became more than just a newsreader and his public profile began to sprout.
He did several amazing features while reading the news such as parachuting out of an airplane at 10,000 feet, dangling above a shark tank with meat tied to his feet, reading the news during the Lady Gaga show while she rehearsed behind him, attending the Oscars, being slung off Sydney’s Centre Point Tower, and even a cameo in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert Musical. “Kyle, Jackie and myself all had parts in it, which we did for one night and one night only,” he told me.
Having been part of the Kyle and Jackie O Show for so long he has met lots of celebrities. He recalled the time he and Jackie O went to see Hugh Jackman perform in The Boy From Oz. After the performance he and Jackie met up with Jackman for some drinks who kept saying “come on, have another drink, have a champagne.” Next minute it was 2am and both Geoff and Jackie had to be at work in an hour. So they did – without going home first! He tells me, with a twinkle in his eye and a hushed voice that Kyle had no idea about this story. “But the thing is, you can always go to bed after the show. Sorry, Kyle.”
His favourite celebrity by far is Kylie Minogue who he was lucky enough to spend one-on-one time with. “I got to the hotel in Sydney and Kyle and Jackie weren’t ready [for their interview with her]. They went to have a cigarette. So I spent half an hour chatting with Kylie. That was fun,” he remembers. “Kylie really was the most giving, wonderful, amazing person,” he recalled.
As for more “difficult” celebrities, Geoff keeps his lips sealed. “If there was one, I wouldn’t tell you. I don’t kiss and tell. I’m not that sort of person,” he said.
My favourite anecdote by far was when he told me about his illegal wedding. Field is proud to be known as the first openly gay newsreader in Australian radio and in 2005 he received a great surprise. “I was [at the Kyle and Jackie O show] reading the news and Jackie says we have a life changing moment coming up later in the show. I thought, ‘Oh my god, what are they going to do now? Are they going to put crocodiles in the studio?’ and in walked [partner] Jason. My second thought was ‘What’s going on here?’ and then Jason proposed to me.”
Geoff had to make it very clear on the radio and also on Channel 7’s morning show Sunrise which were also broadcasting live that because gay marriage wasn’t yet legal, it wasn’t real, but it was a step forward for marriage equality in Australia. “I’m very proud of that moment, so without a doubt that is the seminal moment for me in radio,” he said.
After 10 years working on the Kyle and Jackie O Show, Field moved on to radio pranksters Hamish and Andy, the number one drive time show. He said the boys were great fun and a pleasure to work with, but unfortunately, after being with 2DAY-FM for over 18 years, he was the product of downsizing. He decided to see the silver lining in that and took a much-needed break from radio and spent a year travelling with Jason.
So far they’ve been to Finland, Scandinavia, east and west Europe, South America and North America, he listed off his fingers. His new favourite form of travel is cruising. Field said he likes the ease of being able to put your bags on the ship and relax, without having to move. “I hate airport carousels,” Field explained.
Since he immerses himself in social media and news for his job, I wondered if he completely switches off from those aspects while on holidays. “Yes, that’s very important,” he said before chuckling about how Jason would take his phone away from him while on vacation. It even started to become an inside joke to them and to Geoff’s regulars on his social media pages. “Jason’s let me come on for an hour,” he would message to fans, “It’s a very big deal.” He ended by saying that people spend all day checking their phones, “I don’t think it’s good to be connected 24/7.”
When he was ready to settle back in Sydney after travelling, he was pleasantly surprised when job offers came flowing in.
“I had about five job offers but some of them were out of Sydney. I don’t want to leave Sydney. We’ve got our house, Jason’s got his job…” As such, he ended up taking a role as a newsreader at 2SM, which broadcasts to 80 different stations across Australia, saying, “It suits me perfectly at this stage.”
It also allowed him to work for different charities which he is very passionate about. He is the ambassador for Miracle Babies, Marriage Equality, speaks at various community-based events, hosts fundraisers and contributes to mentoring programs for young gay and lesbian people.
He expressed that while he would love to take on all charities, he simply can’t and won’t. He believes that you can’t give your full attention to so many things. “You’ve got to draw the line otherwise you know you can’t really give your best. You’re just giving little bits so I have several charities that I have stuck with but I try where I can to help.”
Field plays his part by doing quick promos on radio for Red Nose Day or tells people to wear a pink ribbon for Breast Cancer awareness.
As I listened to his lengthy career, I began to wonder what has kept Field going in the industry for so long. He explained it was because he gets to speak to so many people.
“Over the years I’ve spoken to millions of people,” he explained.
Field’s best advice to aspiring radio journalists is to consider the microphone as a friend rather than a threat. Breathe naturally and finally, be yourself. Don’t pretend to be anyone else.
“That’s the best piece of advice I could ever give,” Field said. – Rachel Adler
Top image from Geoff Mark Field’s Facebook.