With nearly 4 decades at Nine under her belt Jo Hall admits to being surprised to find her career is about to take another detour, hosting regional Victorian bulletins for Nine and Southern Cross.
Today she begins the first of 4 Nine News bulletins, in Western Victoria. For the past 5 years she has been doing news reporting and daily news Updates.
“I stopped doing weekends 5 years ago, which was a big change but I loved claiming my weekends back. I wasn’t sure whether I’d miss doing the weekend news, but I didn’t. I really looked forward to having my weekends off, spending time with my twins,” she says.
“That was a big shift and now it’s another shift.”
Hall had 13 years of anchoring weekend bulletins, and has years of experience filling in for Peter Hitchener and Brian Naylor, before him.
“Anchoring is something I really love, going in to people’s lounge rooms delivering the news. It’s something I don’t take for granted. As much as I love reporting stories, I really do love the anchoring.”
But she will continue to file weekly stories for Nine News Melbourne too.
“Management and I were both on the same page about keeping a presence on the Melbourne news service. I wanted to keep doing the feature stories which I love doing. I probably won’t be able to do as many. I was doing 2-3 a week and they are very time consuming to write and shoot because they are longer-format,” she continues.
“So I really hope I can do one a week.”
The Nine-Southern Cross regional bulletins are already underway in New South Wales/ ACT presented by Vanessa O’Hanlon, with Queensland to come with Samantha Heathwood.
Hall will front bulletins in Ballarat, Bendigo, Albury-Shepparton and Gippsland.
Each of the one-hour bulletins will look and feel the same as capital city bulletins covering state, national and international news, with 7 minutes of news from regional reporters and crews. Hall will pre-record introductions for each market in late afternoons, joined by Nathan Curry for Sport and Sonia Marinelli for Weather.
“They’ve had to reconfigure the newsroom to accommodate a regional production desk with 3 producers,” she explains.
“We work alongside the Melbourne production desk, and they’ve had to build a new studio and a new control room which sits side by side. One puts the Melbourne bulletin to air and one puts the Victorian bulletins to air.”
Hall has been visiting regional centres for promotion ahead of the four bulletins and was struck by the size of the markets.
“I can’t believe how big they are. Ballarat goes right down to Mt Gambier on the South Australian border, to Warrnambool and Lorne, then all the way north,” she notes.
“We spent most of the day in Albury and it’s a beautiful part of the world. We did some media there and the reporter from the Border Mail asked me why I thought viewers would tune in to the news service we’ll be providing as opposed to the 2 localised bulletins there.
“I said, ‘Are you saying people in the country aren’t as interested in what’s happening on the world stage or what’s going on in Canberra, what affects their hip pocket or a CBD rampage where a driver mows down 6 people –as well as what is going on at their local doorstep?’ I think what we’re doing is the perfect offering.”
But Nine will also face competition from WIN News and Prime7 News both of which are well-entrenched with regional audiences.
“I think competition is a great for everybody. Everyone will lift their game when it’s a competitive set of circumstances,” Hall suggests.
“I think, to be perfectly honest, regional viewers have been a bit short-changed and a bit neglected.”
Nine News Western Victoria begins 6pm today on Nine (check local guides).