Karen Tighe leaving the ABC to focus on her health

ABC SPORT presenter Karen Tighe is leaving the ABC to focus on her health. She has been with the network 35 years.

Tighe joined ABC Television in the late 80s spending her first eight years as a sports researcher, broadcaster and presenter covering golf, tennis, netball and cycling. In 1997 she moved to radio and became the host of the national weekend sports program Grandstand which she has presented ever since.

The role saw Tighe cover four Olympic and six Paralympic Games for television as well as swimming, basketball and netball World Championships. She was also host of ABC TV’s coverage of the tennis Hopman Cup from 1994 to 2010. Tighe became the first person to win a Sport Australia Media Award twice. In February 2020 she received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Sports Australia Media Awards in Sydney.

Tighe said:

“ABC TV and then Radio Sport have been my working home since March 1989 after the combination of a letter and little piece to camera on a VHS I had posted to then Head of ABC TV Sport David Salter asking for a job, resulted in being asked to come in for a chat and then the next week offered to join the TV Sport team at Gore Hill.

“Leaving the ABC has been a very difficult decision, but I depart celebrating the increasing opportunities for talented women in sports media and commentary and similarly on the field with teams like the Matildas in football and the Australian women’s cricketers. As for the Olympics and Paralympics I will always be following! It has been a privilege to be part of the ABC Grandstand family.” 

In 2020 Tighe was hospitalised with Herpes Simplex (HSV-1) Encephalitis and became an advocate for encephalitis awareness in Australia. World Encephalitis Day is today, February 22.

Fellow ABC SPORT Broadcaster Quentin Hull paid tribute to Tighe:

“Karen Tighe is the undisputed Queen of Australian sports radio.

​From her early days as a television anchor, right through to her final summer as host of Grandstand, Karen has been the ultimate professional and a pioneer for women in the Australian sports media.

​Karen’s unabashed love for sport and its people has been evident in every broadcast she made. She is as authentic as she is thorough, and her name will rightfully sit alongside the likes of Alan McGilvray, Norman May and Jim Maxwell, as sports broadcasting icons for the ABC.

In recent years, Karen’s return to the airwaves after illness has not only been an inspiration, but the ultimate reflection of her work ethic and passion.

​Away from the microphone, Kaz is the most wonderful colleague you could hope for. All of us at ABC Sport have been blessed to work with her and we wish her all the best.”

Tighe wraps up on Summer Grandstand this weekend.

Karen Tighe Photo: Anthea Auld

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