Former TV anchor reflects on life and cancer battle
FOUR years of chemotherapy, eight months in hospital and a lifetime of experience - former 7 News anchor Mike Higgins has his fair share of stories under his belt.
In 2008 the face many in Bundaberg would recognise from his anchor role in the 1980s was diagnosed with primary cutaneous peripheral T-cell lymphoma and was given a 16 per cent chance of survival.
Mr Higgins, visiting Bundaberg yesterday, began writing his book Trousers Under the News Desk as well as an upcoming novel while he was in hospital battling the rare form of cancer.
"When I was in hospital I was writing on anything I could - scrap pieces of paper, menus, even toilet paper and anything I could get my hands on,” he said.
"The main thing I came out of hospital with was appreciation not just for the Queensland public health system, but the doctors and haematologists, the oncologists and all the nurses - they're amazing.”
Writing his memoir gave him a chance to reflect on his life in radio and television, his work on the environment, his run-ins with gangsters politicians and spies and his cancer battle.
Mr Higgins said he'd noticed a fair few changes in news today to when he was presenting the news bulletins in the 1980s.
"These days there's a lot more serious overseas news,” he said.
"Back when I was doing news we covered overseas stories but it was fairly local and we concentrated on local stories in Queensland.
"The other difference, whilst today's television studios are automated and there's a reader in there with a foot-pedal to work his or her auto-cue, back then there were six or seven people in the studio. There was a floor manager, an auto-cue operator and three or four camera operators.”
Mr Higgins said the studios were also alive with music.
"There were telethons, there were tonight shows, there musical programs - there was always something going on in the studio,” he said.
"You could walk from the newsroom upstairs, into the studio and there'd be a huge number of people in an orchestra and people dancing, so it always had that atmosphere.
"The other difference was that every fridge in every department of the television studio was filled with beer and champagne and it was not uncommon for the fridge to be opened and then emptied when the ratings figures came in.”
Mr Higgins also shared his views on the recent closure of the WIN News Wide Bay newsroom.
"People are going to follow the local news first in their own community, if one newsroom closes down they'll go to the other one, I think it's WIN's loss,” he said.
Mike's book Trousers Under the News Desk is now available from Dymocks in Bourbong St.