When most of Brisbane was either tucked up in bed or just starting their day, Sarah Greenhalgh was flying high above the city surveying the roads to keep commuters informed on the best routes to work.
Ms Greenhalgh, who graduated with a Bachelor of Journalism in July 2011, spent four months working as the traffic reporter for Channel 9’s Today Show, and has recently secured a job at WIN TV Mackay and Whitsundays.
Her 4am wake-up call as a traffic reporter was tough at times, but Ms Greenhalgh said it was all worth it once she was cruising the skies above Brisbane.
“It was an incredible way to start the day,” she said.
“But it was a job that had its highs and lows. In my first two weeks I had to report on a fatal accident and it was difficult to keep the emotion out of my voice.
“Then there were times when I reported on incidents that were quite funny, like when there was a cow strolling down the east-east arterial road the night of the Katy Perry concert – we thought she might have been a big fan who had got a little lost.”
Ms Greenhalgh started work at The Australian Traffic Network at the start of the year, while also completing her final semester of her degree.
In addition to reporting for the Today Show and 97.3FM each morning, she was also traffic reporter for Nova, 4KQ and Hot 91 on the Sunshine Coast in the afternoons.
Working while also studying kept Ms Greenhalgh busy during the first half of the year. The busiest times for a traffic reporter are peak morning and peak afternoon, which meant she completed a split shift and drove from her Paddington home to the aerodrome at Redcliffe twice a day.
Never picturing that she would be reporting on traffic from a helicopter, Ms Greenhalgh said not knowing the difference between the Ipswich Motorway and the Pacific Motorway soon changed.
“I have learnt in this industry that you need to take any job that becomes available and just run with it,” she said.
“In journalism, and the media industry as a whole, contacts are crucial. It’s not so much what you know, but certainly a case of who you know.
“This job enabled me to be in regular contact with so many diverse media contacts. For example, it was amazing getting to know some of the radio presenters – I often engaged in on-air banter with Robin, Terry and Bob in the mornings on 97.3 FM and Ian Keenan who announces on 4KQ of an afternoon was always so lovely to talk to.
“Paul Reed who is the chief of staff at Channel Nine here in Brisbane often called me in the chopper, asking for footage of things they wanted to show on the evening news: examples include a protest on the M1, fog covering the city skyline, or a nasty accident that has made headlines.”
Ms Greenhalgh said she had developed a particular interest in broadcast television.
“I love the way that images married with words can be used so effectively to communicate to audiences,” she said. “It wasn’t until 2010 that I decided I wanted to do something in television, and when the opportunity arose to do a 10-day internship with Channel Nine at the Ekka, I jumped at the opportunity and applied.
“Luckily, I got selected as one of the two students, and spent 10 jam-packed days producing video reports for the web.”