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Profile image for Cathy Campbell

Cathy Campbell

Journalist, Presenter

The eldest of two daughters, Cathy Campbell credited her gregarious, outgoing nature to a nomadic childhood, thanks to her banker father.

Told at one point that she didn’t have a good voice for broadcasting, Campbell studied journalism at Wellington Polytechnic, and won the course’s broadcasting award in the process. She worked as a reporter at Radio Windy and Radio I, where she met journalist and future husband Ric Salizzo. On their OE, they worked together at radio news agencies in Italy and London.

When Campbell returned downunder in 1986, she got a job as TVNZ ‘s health reporter, and began an extended period fronting live netball coverage. Her work as a reporter and on-air presenter would later expand, thanks to gigs filling in as a newsreader on the midday and breakfast news bulletins, and presenting sports on the primetime news.

One memorable challenge was covering the Cervical Cancer enquiry that began in 1987; another was reporting on the 1989 helicopter crash which killed TVNZ cameraman Joe Von Dinklage.

In August of that year Campbell was asked to audition on the spot for an anchoring role on new show Sportsnight. Though Kiwi Jennie Goodwin had led the gender charge 14 years before, as the first woman in New Zealand (and the Commonwealth) to read primetime news, Campbell’s successful audition marked another first: that of a woman fronting a New Zealand sports show.

No fan of the idea that there should be a quota for female presenters, Campbell argued in 1990 that the country had already “broken the barriers” for female newsreaders. At that point the TVNZ newsroom was predominantly female.

By 1990, Campbell was also co-anchoring the late night One Network News at 10. The combination of writing and presenting news and sport certainly kept her busy. One night in November 1990 she found herself running between television studios, co-presenting Sportsnight alongside Phillip Leishman, and changing jackets to present updates on the resignation of Margaret Thatcher. “It was funny that the two roles I had been playing for most of the year were put together like that. That one night would sum up my whole year.”

By 1991 Campbell’s combined workload saw her handing over Sportsnight’s reins to Leishman. In this period she was one of two female sports presenters on TV One’s main network news bulletin (alternating week by week with Jane Dent). In 1993 Campbell was asked to join Geoff Bryan as co-host of TVNZ’s flagship four-hour sports programme on Sunday afternoons, then known as Countrywide Bank Grandstand.

“Cathy was the obvious choice,” argued TVNZ Head of Sport John Knowles. “By happy coincidence, we have a male-female duo, but it was more important we had the right person for the job, rather than any gender consideration.”

After 15 years in journalism, Campbell moved into public relations in the 90s, initially as communications director at Auckland’s Regent Hotel. She did consultancy work for two Auckland PR companies before launching PR and events company Cathy Campbell Communications. The company specialised in luxury and lifestyle brands, and managing events. Clients included New Zealand Fashion Week, Auckland Racing Club, Trelise Cooper and LG Electronics.

Campbell also made a two-year return to television in 2000, as an associate producer on five day a week Susan Wood interview show Today Live.

Campbell died on 23 February 2012, after a two-year battle with a brain tumour. Her funeral service packed out Auckland's Sacred Heart College chapel.

Profile published on 4 June 2011. Updated on 26 February 2012

Sources include
TVNZ News Reference Library
Annette Bell and Katie Reading, ‘Cathy: Go for TV, girls’ (Interview) - The Auckland Star, 25 September 1990
Denis Edwards, ‘Bubble and speed come naturally’ (Interview) - The Dominion Sunday Times, 11 February 1990
Toni McRae, ‘Campbell’s top role’ - Sunday Star, 3 September 1989
Karen Nimmo, ‘A Good Sport’ (Interview) - More magazine, July 1993, page 36