An Evening with Hank Phillippi Ryan
by Ann Talbot 10/29/12
Hank Phillippi Ryan has been at Channel 7 since 1983 and is now #1 in seniority. Hank is an investigative reporter, author of a mystery series and proud introducer of her newest book, The Other Woman.
In the upper town hall, Hank Phillippi Ryan served not only as guest speaker, but also as hostess. She greeted every person in the audience individually as each was seated.
Leslie McDonnell, above, director of Holliston’s Public Library introduced Hank. As a kid in Indiana, the library was important to Hank. This continues to this day as a writer doing research. Her tip for late night researchers – call a library in California. They are open much later.
Wearing both hats of tv reporter and author, Hank has to be careful of her background. The cover of her current book states “Hank Phillippi Ryan, the Other Woman.” Her next book states “Hank Phillippi Ryan, the Wrong Girl.” One of her first investigative reports dealt with the fact that automobile headlights get worse as time goes by. After the testing, writing the story and making the film, Hank was positioned for a lead-in photo. She stood in front of large letters stating “Dangerously Dim.” Even worse, a colleague was photographed in front of the title “Botched Plastic Surgery.” This is the type of delightful information that entertained an appreciative audience.
Hank did not plan to be a reporter, but she did dream of doing something to change the world. She worked on political campaigns in Indiana, but her candidates did not win. However she discovered that after disappointment, something good happens. With no journalism training or experience, she applied for a job in tv news. At the time there were no women on the staff so she got the job. She learned quickly, because a person must produce to keep the job. She is proud to be part of the history of women in television.
Early on, Hank wanted to be a mystery writer. She found that fiction and non-fiction writing are very similar. Both involve telling a good story, having the characters get justice and requiring that the author makes things right. In tv journalism, you cannot make things up. She loves making up a world that never existed before in her fiction books.
How did The Other Woman come about? Hank was reading People Magazine in the dentist’s office, a piece about a hiker who went off with “the other woman.” Diverting herself from the root canal, Hank began thinking about this other woman. Who is she? Why would you ruin other people’s lives on purpose? Was there any way she could avoid getting caught? Hank began thinking about the “what ifs.” And the book was in the works. Being set in Boston, we will recognize the locations.
Hank considers herself the poster child for following your dreams later in life. She started her first novel at fifty-five and burst into tears when she typed “the end” onto her manuscript. She firmly believes “leap and the net will appear.”
The audience was invited to ask questions:
How do you juggle two careers? Follow her mother’s advice – you will if you want to.
Where did the name “Hank” come from? A college friend said she didn’t look like a “Harriet” and the name stuck.
What was the favorite story that you covered? No one favorite, but several came to mind. A family was duped into buying a house that the seller did not own. They got the money back. Mortgage lenders were exposed and three new laws were passed as a result. She investigated 911 calls going to the wrong place. And on. Hank couldn’t possibly pick one.
Are you planning to write a non-fiction book? No, that is her day job. She loves making things up.
Does the other woman always get caught? In some way or other, yes.
What a delightful evening we had. The group clustered around the autograph table talked informally with Hank and she liked having her picture taken with each. We discovered a lovely, warm enthusiastic lady, not just the serious person that graces our tv screen. I plan to begin reading my autographed copy today. Thanks to the Friends of the Library for the program.