Earlier this year, Ruby Assembly‘s Iolanthe bumped into a particularly lovely-looking lass who was rocking a Friday Kahlo-esque outfit at the launch of L’Oreal Melbourne Fashion Festival. It turned out to be Irene Scott from Triple J’s The Hack. Brains and beauty in an awesome package, as you’ll see from this week’s Business Ninja Interview with Irene. Find out how Irene’s stalker-ish determination has taken her on an amazing professional journey. Props, Irene!
1.When you were 18 and in a career-planning session at high school, did you imagine that you would work as a radio journalist? If not, what did you think you’d do?
To be honest when I was 18 I had no idea what I wanted to do… at one stage I was contemplating being a fireman (seriously! But that idea was fairly fleeting), maybe a lawyer or an aid worker? But in reality I think I was always going end up in this game, it’s such a scam! You get paid to meet fascinating people and ask them the weirdest most personal questions you could never get away with without being a journalist. I’m basically a professional voyeur.
2. How did you come to work at JJJ? Did you work in regional radio or print previously?
Sure did, I studied at RMIT then packed my bags to start my first job as a radio producer for ABC Ballarat. Such a great move, you get thrown into every role when you work in a small regional station. People get sick, then out of the blue you get a shot at presenting. It would take years and years to get the same kind of experience if I had stayed in Melbourne.
It also meant each summer you turned into a bushfire reporter. Some of the most stressful, but most rewarding times of my career where every little detail you say on air could be literally life or death for someone. Always so amazed how much people trust the ABC at these super stressful times, and are willing to give us an insight into their lives. Very humbling stuff.
After a few years I headed to India to do some media training at a youth conference and conveniently the world Scrabble competitions were on at the same time. I knew that John Safran was a huge Scrabble nerd so I offered a few live crosses while I was there. It was the perfect way to get in their faces and when I got home I continued my train of harassment which eventuated in a job producing the Dools and Linda show in Sydney. Who said stalking never pays off…
3.What is the strangest thing you’ve ever reported on, and why?
That’s a tough one.. but for some reason I end up doing a lot of the stories that relate to sex, weird genital stories and general social misfits (I’m not complaining). A little while back I did a story about men who had been circumcised and they wanted to get their foreskin back. It’s a tricky process that takes a couple of years of slow skin stretching.. but when you’re talking to a middle-aged man about his DIY ‘stretcher’ that attaches to his bits (buy me a wine sometime I’ll explain how he does it)… you’d want to have a strong stomach.
4.What is your favourite cutting response to ‘You’re Got a Great Face for Radio’?
You can see through the radio! Wow, I’ll wave next time. Shit, I’ve got to stop presenting topless. We get that from time to time, but I think people would be surprised how many good-looking radio presenters are out there.
5. We met your briefly at LMFF and you’re quite the stunner. Where do you go in Melbourne to find the glad rags and knit-knacks that keep you clothed in style?
To be honest I buy most of my clothing in op shops and vintage shops. Savers is awesome, but the best bargain finds are always in the great dusty old op shops in regional areas. I think I seriously have a problem, I can’t go past an op shop without stopping the car and going for a rummage, I learnt my skills from my Mum when I was little. In fact the dress I was wearing when I met you was a $3 op shop bargain! For vintage, Circa on Gertrude Street has some great high quality pieces, or Vintage Garage on Smith Street if you want a huge range. But I guess most of the gems I find are discovered by accident. Gorman is always great, I love the fabrics they use – or Romance Was Born and Edgeley (on Gertrude Street) for some really creative stuff. There’s no reason you can’t play dress ups every day.
6. What’s the best meal you make and which fictional character would you share it with?
Hmm I love to cook, but I think a seared tuna steak marinated in ginger (fresh and the Japanese picked type), fresh lemongrass and soy with some fresh greens has to be up there… every time I eat it I wonder how they can call that grey mush that comes in cans tuna. I think I’d like to share it with Jareth, David Bowie’s character in the Labyrinth (that means I get to hang out with the actual Bowie too right?).
7. When you walk the halls of the ABC, who were the journalists/presenters that initally left you a bit starstruck and why?
Wow, pretty much everyone. Definitely the silver fox Barry Cassidy (I still get excited when I see him), Margaret Pommerantz and Fran Kelly from Radio National. I’m not so scared of Fran anymore, what a legend!
8. Do you like to talk about politics and religion at dinner, or do you consider it impolite?
I consider being polite at dinner horribly boring, food is meant to be shared with robust discussion, bring it on! If you try to talk to me about the weather I’m likely to hurl a chicken leg in your direction!
10.Quadrant or The Monthly?
I have aspirations to read both, and rarely get around to it. You’re more likely to catch me reading the Huffington Post.
Inset far right: Irene Scott in magnificent op-shop find. What a gal!