10-11-2007 20:56

Special Report:   Edwin Maher - My China Daily

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There have been many highlights in my broadcasting career, but this has to be the tops - becoming the first non-Chinese face to read news on CCTV International. It was more like an honor than a job-offer when the channel's director, Jiang Heping asked me to join his team of anchors. Actually I have a two-fold purpose. You can see me on three days of the week (Sunday, Wednesday and Thursday 8 a.m 10 a.m. and noon Beijing time) but on my other two days I am voice-coaching the other Chinese anchors, reporters, and voice-over staff.

In December 2003, I completed a six months engagement as Voice Trainer with the English Dept of China Radio International (CRI) so the work environment at television is similar, but busier. As with any organization, it's best asset is the people, and like CRI, everyone at CCTV International is friendly and welcoming, yet fiercely determined to put out the best possible product.

When I was asked to write my story for the CCTV website, I thought, where do I begin and not become boring? Since broadcasting has been my only working life, I have been seen and heard on several services in Australia where I have lived most of my life, and the country of my birth - New Zealand.

As a Kiwi - the bird that can't fly - my own career was hatched with the New Zealand Broadcasting Service in Wellington. In those days, the news was brief and only just emerging from a once-a-day only national bulletin, consisting mainly of government press releases. So it was interesting to be there at the time of rapid expansion.

I learned to not only read news, but be a DJ, and then eventually appear on the fledgling television service from which I still have a video recorded in black and white, speaking in a very "put-on posho" voice. As my daughter, Elizabeth told me when she saw it many years later: "Dad, that's a shocker."

While still very young, I wanted to try the bigger opportunities across the Tasman, and landed in Australia to take up a job on a television station in the New South Wales (NSW) provincial city of Wagga Wagga - pronounced "Wogga". Now I was reading news, commercials, and even compering a daytime panel show where viewers sent in questions about everything from their untidy children "who won't clean up their bedrooms" to husbands and wives "who won't stop snoring". The "experts" were local women, so now you can understand why the show was called, Pettitcoat Panel.

After 18 months I thought it was time to get out from under their skirts and find some more experience. This time I worked for a TV channel in Hobart, the capital of Australia's only island state, Tasmania. Now I was reading more news, more commercials, and hosting another panel program - a junior quiz challenge. At least I was expanding my horizons. But still not quite far enough.

My job train made its next stop in the nation's capital, Canberra, and now a chance for a taste of Australian politics - or so I thought. But my most memorable story was about the installation of new toilet seats in Parliament House, and I can still remember the closing line - "we hope they'll be a great convenience".

There had to be greater challenges. Sydney (NSW) was the place to go - the hub of television in Australia, and despite my toilet tale, it 's off-beat content and play on words actually got me a job at the Seven Network as Associate Producer on a morning current affairs show. Plenty to get stuck into there.

My wife, Robyn, and I now had little two boys and a girl, so you would think we would be settled. But a friend of mine running the news department of a new radio station in Melbourne offered me a job as Senior Journalist and morning newsreader. We decided to go south to the state of Victoria, and then things did start settling down. Well almost.