WIB Lunch with Hank Phillippi Ryan
Did you know that award-winning investigative reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan is also the author of three novels? Attendees were given copies of her latest release, Air Time at the September 17 Women in Business Lunch at the Charles Hotel. Hank graciously signed the books, as well as her first two novels, Prime Time and Face Time, following an engaging talk about her 30-year career as a broadcast journalist and more recent experience as a mystery novelist.
Hank shared anecdotes about the high-pressure, fast-paced life of a television reporter. She opened with a tale about how fear can overcome hunger. One day she was starving when coming back from an assignment, so she ran into a sub shop and asked how long for a tuna salad sandwich. When the clerk said, “Two minutes,” she said, “Too long,” because she knew that even that brief minute delay wouldn’t allow her to get back to the station in time to file her story.
Being self-confident and facing fear were central themes in many of the stories Hank divulged. “I think I got my first job in broadcasting because I was so young and so naïve that I didn’t know enough to be afraid,” she said. She covered up her lack of experience or degree in journalism by telling the radio station owner, “Your license is up for renewal at the FCC and you don’t have any women working here.” She said got her first TV job because she didn’t know enough to know that it was a screen test and that she should have been terrified when the news director handed her a microphone and asked her to talk.
Hank talked about going undercover in the days before cameras became small and inconspicuous. Back then a reporter put a camera in her purse and covered it with a scarf. When investigating a possible cult, she was asked what was in her purse and almost exposed, but got away by standing up to her questioner. She added that writing her first novel and knowing people were going to read it was almost a scarier experience.
Hank expounded on the similarities between being a reporter and a mystery writer. “Whether it’s television story or a mystery novel, you’re looking to tell a wonderful, important story with characters you care about.” The inspiration for the main character of her novels came from the truism that, “They key to being successful in television is to be married to your job.” There is no time for a personal life when you are on call 24/7.
Charlotte “Charlie” MacNally, Hank’s protagonist, is a 46-year-old veteran television reporter. She’s beginning to think, “What happens to a TV reporter who’s married to her job when the camera doesn’t love her anymore?” Charlotte is “worried that she’s going to be a media old maid.” She is examining her life and the decisions that have led her to where she is in the world and where she wants to be.
Along with absolutely loving her job, inspirational quotations help Hank manage stress and get through the tough times. Favorite quotes by Winston Churchill, Calvin Coolidge, “anonymous—and that’s not one of my sources!” and her mother focus on persistence, determination and believing in your success. To her, “Never give up means that even though pathways can change, you have your eye on your goal.”
Hank’s fourth novel, Drive Time will be released in February. Visit www.hankphillippiryan.com for more.
Thank you to Cambridge Trust Company and Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company for sponsoring the 2009 Women in Business Series.
View video highlights from this event by clicking on the play button below. Click on the YouTube icon to view it larger via YouTube.