She’s one of Port’s best known identities – although she lives and works in Tamworth. But everyone recognises Fiona Ferguson and, every day, thousands of us are keen to hear what she’s got to say.
“I’m the news editor and presenter of Prime News for the region, which effectively means I have the final say on the bulletin. But I rely heavily on my people on the ground – in Port Macquarie, journalist Clementine Johnson and camera operator Andrew Watts – to let me know what’s going on. They give me a list of options, stories they consider important, and we decide what to run that night. It all starts about 8.30 every weekday morning and takes all day to pull the bulletin together. The crews go on the road while I’m back in the office taking care of things behind the scenes: making sure our promos go to air, preparing graphics, and many other jobs. We’ve four journalist-camera crews: in Port, Taree, Coffs Harbour and Lismore; they cover a big area (and do a fantastic job!) Nightly we’re watched by [approaching 50,000] people. I also present the news for Prime New England-North West, taking in viewers in Tamworth, Armidale, Moree, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Inverell, Tenterfield and nearby centres.
I completed a B.A, majoring in Journalism at Queensland University, quite a few years ago now. I started out with QTV Bundaberg, then moved to Cairns before heading overseas to do the travel thing. When I returned I came to Prime, have been here ever since and loved every minute. I moved from the role of weekend newsreader/producer/weather presenter to presenter six years ago.
I grew up with my mum, dad and two brothers – one older, one younger – in Queensland. My parents were special education teachers so we moved around a lot when I was little but I did most of my schooling in Brisbane, completing high school at St Margaret’s, Clayfield. I was a bit of an athlete when I was younger and those years are behind me now, but I did rise to the dizzying heights of South Pacific champion for the 100m and 200m sprint events. I competed at the first South Pacific School Games in Brisbane and still hold the record for the 13 yrs 100m … in conjunction with Melinda Gainsford-Taylor (my claim to fame!) I love to play hockey, but since I’ll be a mum soon I’ve had to put those aspirations on hold. I’ve been in Tamworth for twelve and a half years now and married Chris two years ago. We’re currently renovating/extending our home to accommodate our growing family. Not perfect timing, but what can you do! Chris is an export adviser for the government, helping local businesses into overseas markets, and attended the recent Shanghai Expo.
My job is always a challenge, meeting deadlines through the day and of course the big one at night. But those who have it tough are the crews who go out and about. They often drive a long way just to get a story, then have to get back, write it up and put it together: my hat’s off to them every day. As for working in regional television, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I chose years ago not to head to the bright lights of the city: I like to be challenged, I like to be busy, and that happens here every day. Besides, if I hadn’t stayed in Tamworth I wouldn’t have met my husband.
Our reward’s in putting our best foot forward every day, doing our best to present stories relevant to our local markets, and important to people on all sorts of levels, whether it’s a small school event or a major catastrophe. The stories I like most are those at the end of the news; they’re the real “people” stories. For sure I’ll continue doing the job: I get too much satisfaction out of it to stop now. Though I will have to take some time off soon … to have this baby I’m expecting in November. Hobbies? At the moment it’s baby shopping [laughs] and building – though not so much the building: that’s Chris’s domain. For the future, I think becoming a mum will change my outlook a little. I’ve been fairly career-oriented most of my life … but there’s going to be another little person relying on me soon!”