Sports commentator John Casey is a Broken Hill success story. Starting as a cadet journalist at this very newspaper, to covering some of the biggest events on the global sporting calendar, there wouldn’t be too many who have risen to the very top of their industry in the same way the voice of Australian basketball has.
Growing up in Broken Hill, Mr Casey took advantage of all the sporting opportunities available to him. He played cricket and football for West, as well as a stint at North. He played basketball, baseball, and even had a stint playing water polo.
“I started with the mosquito fleet down at West Footy Club and played my football, and cricket, there before getting into journalism. I’m pleased to see that the West has won the A and B Grade premierships again just recently.
“When I started high school, we changed houses and I started playing for North and finished my career playing with North,” Mr Casey told us.
“I tried my hand at most things, as you do in Broken Hill. I remember trying out and playing a season of water polo and I couldn’t really swim that well,” Mr Casey laughed.
He also took advantage of the unique opportunities available to him by working at the local paper, the Barrier Daily Truth, as it was known at the time, something that has held him in good stead across his four decades in the industry.
“At grassroots level like you are in a small country town like Broken Hill, you get across everything. So, nothing’s daunting to you. You’re asked to cover everything, go to the courts, you have to do police rounds. That broad cross section, getting a chance to work on everything, learning to converse with different people and how to, as a journalist, extract information from people, you carry that with you for the rest of your career.”
And Mr Casey has indeed carried those lessons across nearly every medium available to a journalist. He has conquered print, radio and television and told us he has picked something up in every one of those areas.
“I obviously started there at the BDT and I had no real goal at the time to do radio or television. I just wanted to be a journalist and work for the local newspaper, and then hopefully a bigger newspaper.
“I was lucky enough that I went from Broken Hill to the Herald Sun, and then the news in Adelaide. Then it got to the stage where I wanted to get some overseas experience. I thought it would help me as a journalist.
“My uncle, the late Geoff McClure, who had worked for the Barrier Miner, fully encouraged me and that really helped me and guided me. He told me the experience you get, no matter what it is, will be great for you.”
He would end up postponing those plans when a job offer arose that was too good to turn down, with Channel 10 in Adelaide. He threw his CV in amidst his plans to head overseas, thinking he had no chance of getting the role.
“I got the job. I’d never worked in TV and they were prepared to train me in that sphere of journalism, so I thought I’d go and do that and take it from there.
“Once you get involved with one form of electronic media, you get involved with the other forms as well. So, I started doing a little bit of radio work through my work at Channel 10 and got more experience there.”
After three years at 10 (now Channel 7) Mr Casey decided it was time to get that overseas experience he had promised himself.
He left Australia and got some work in the UK. An experience he said was pivotal in making him the media personality he is today.
“Look, there is no substitute for experience, so it was just a matter of learning something. Every day you go to work and here I am today. I’m still learning.”
The experience working internationally held him in good stead at home as he was recruited to help launch pay TV in Australia with Galaxy sports channel Premier Sports. He uttered the first words ever spoken on pay TV in Australia.
From there his career has gone from strength to strength and he is now synonymous with sports in Australia, particularly basketball where he has called more than 1000 matches in both the NBL and WNBL.
To hear an audio version of our chat with John Casey, listen to the latest episode of our podcast The Red Dirt Round Up by heading to this link: https://brokenhillnow.com.au/podcast-red-dirt-roundup/