Rahni Sadler is a reporter for Sunday Night, the flagship program in Seven’s news and public affairs line-up. She joined the show full-time in January 2010, after filing a series of guest reports in 2009.
In her first year as a full time reporter on Sunday Night, Rahni, along with producer Rebecca LeTourneau, was awarded the Medicines Australia/National Press Club award for Excellence in Health Journalism for “The Vanishing”. The story followed the lives of two young mothers devastated by early onset Alzheimers and introduced the groundbreaking work of Perth’s Doctor Ralph Martins who is close to finding a genetic marker to identify the devastating disease before its onset.
Her story on women and heart disease has been praised for raising the profile of a silent killer. Heart disease kills more women than all cancers combined and it’s more likely to kill women than men. Jo Court, the wife of former WA premier Richard Court, suffered a heart attack at 45. She was fit, healthy, not overweight, didn’t smoke and did not have a family history of heart problems. Monica O’Loughlin seemed equally healthy and at 51 ignored chest pains because she was female. Monica lost her life to a heart attack within days, leaving behind a husband and five children.
Among the stories Rahni covered last year was the plight of Tamar Stitt, a ten year old from Perth dying from a rare form of liver cancer. Her parents had fled with her to El Salvador to avoid being forced by law to give Tamar chemotherapy, believing that natural therapies and God would cure their daughter.
Rahni also spent a week in the high seas off the Cook Islands on a Greenpeace ship intercepting fishing boats pillaging endangered Tuna.
And she came face to face with an angry Pierce Brosnan who calmed down once he realised she was there to report on the paparazzi, not behave like one of them.
Rahni comes to Sunday Night after seven years working as an Australian news correspondent in the United States. After moving to Los Angeles in 2003 Rahni covered election campaigns, natural disasters, celebrity highs and lows and thousands of other fascinating stories.
In 2005 she spent two weeks at the scene of and following the journeys of the refugees from Hurricane Katrina. In 2007 she was among a small group of journalists who were flown into Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for the trial of David Hicks. In 2004 Rahni was among the hundreds of waiting journalists who watched as a handcuffed Russell Crowe was led from the first precinct police station to the busy Manhattan court nearby to answer assault charges stemming from a phone throwing incident.
Rahni reported live as Heath Ledger’s body was removed from his Manhattan apartment. Rahni had interviewed Ledger on many occasions, including on the red carpet after the 2006 Oscars when the star and then partner Michelle Williams left devastated at failing to take home awards for Brokeback Mountain.
Rahni was fortunate enough to attend the Oscars six times. On the red carpet she got to interview everyone from Brad Pitt and Nicole Kidman to Kate Winslet who as a nominee that year admitted she was “terrified” at the notion of giving an acceptance speech. Rahni’s favourite moment was in 2005 when she had a one on one interview with a very tired but jubilant Cate Blanchett as she left in the wee hours carrying an Academy Award for her role in The Aviator.
Based in Los Angeles, Rahni had the chance to interview many celebrities. She says the best interviews often came as a surprise. She says in real life, Will Ferrell is much funnier than Ben Stiller, Kevin Spacey is a real charmer, Halle Berry is frighteningly shy and Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees is so down to earth he doesn’t seem to realize he’s a multimillionaire mega star.
But as a former political science major with a passion for American history and politics, Rahni lists covering the US election in 2008 as “far and away the highlight” of her career.
“Attending such an impassioned and history-making Democratic National Convention and hearing speeches by Ted Kennedy, Hillary Clinton and of course Barack Obama’s acceptance speech was just unbelievable,” she says.
On the day of the history making election Rahni commentated live from the US for nearly eight hours.
“Then there is the inauguration when I was lucky enough to witness history. We stood in our spot on the media stand across the road from the White House in sub-zero temperatures for 12 hours and it was all made worthwhile when Barack and Michelle Obama walked past and waved. Given fears of an assassination attempt the first couple was expected to be driven in the bullet proof limousine to the White House rather than walk down the streets lined by the public. I was unexpectedly thrown into the position of commentating their symbolic walk live on air. To say I got a bit excited would be an understatment.”
Rahni has been fortunate to travel to some plum locations on assignment including The Bahamas for Greg Norman’s over the top wedding to Chris Evert and to Denmark for the birth of Princess Mary’s second child.
Rahni began working for the Seven Network in 1997 in the Federal Press Gallery in Canberra. Within a year she scored her first big scoop, having discovered the date of the next federal election several days before it was announced. Over the next three years she reported on the sacking of several MP’s in the travel rorts scandal, the Melbourne waterfront dispute, debate over and the implementation of the GST, East Timor’s independence and Australia’s Constitutional Convention and the ensuing Referendum on the Republic.
Rahni moved to the network’s Sydney newsroom in May 2000. Among hundreds of news stories reported then her favourites were the Sydney Olympics, the highlight of which she says was reporting from the top of the Harbour Bridge as the fireworks went off on the closing night of the Games, and the bumpy landing of Steve Fossett near a remote Queensland mine after he successfully circumnavigated the world in a hot air balloon.
In the Sydney newsroom Rahni spent three summers reporting on devastating bushfires, having a close call in December 2001 when a house she and cameraman Jason Wotherspoon were filming was suddenly surrounded by flames. Thankfully the NSW Bushfire Brigade helped Rahni, Jason and the family inside the home to safety.
Before starting at Seven, Rahni worked at WIN TV in Canberra for a year. She says local tv was a great training ground where you reported on two to three stories a day, presented the afternoon news updates on air, then produced the 6pm news bulletin and operated the autocue for the newsreader. She spent a week representing the Win Network after the Thredbo Landslip, presenting hourly updates from the scene.
Rahni graduated from Sydney University, where she studied a Bachelor Of Arts, majoring in Political Science (Honours).
“At university I studied history and politics and while I’d studied Australia at school I thought it would be interesting to focus on the US. Courses like “The Black Experience in America” and “20th Century American Social History” she says have come in very handy in the past few years and “made the experience of watching America’s first black President being elected and inaugurated all the more exhilarating".While at university, Rahni spent every holiday break doing extensive work experience. In between volunteer shifts on radio stations like to 2RPH and 2NBC she spent six weeks at ACP’s now defunct Mode Magazine, two weeks with radio station 2GB in Sydney. Two months at Capital Television in Canberra and a week trailing the press secretary for then Minister for Sports and the Environment, John Faulkner.
In her spare time Rahni can be found at the beach, swimming, surfing or on her beloved paddleboard.
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