30 years with Nine for Tony Jones
He's covered Sport for Nine for 30 years, but Tony Jones reveals Sport is not his number one passion.
Nine News sports presenter Tony Jones chalks up 30 years with the network today.
As part of Nine’s Melbourne news team Jones has covered both state, national and international events from AFL to Olympics -but reveals that Sport is not his first love.
“Sport has never been my number one passion,” he tells TV Tonight. “My number one passion is politics. To this day I always go to the front of the newspaper and work my way to the back.
“That’s why I was able to co-host the state election coverage, which was an absolute highlight for me.
“When the job came up at Nine it was for a sports reporter. If it had been a medical or court reporter I would have gone for that as well.
“I haven’t had to work hard to do sport, because I genuinely love sport. But I’ve said to people that sometimes I would rather watch Question Time than an AFL home and away match.”
It was news director John Sorell who interviewed the young Jones, then at 3AW, for the position in 1986. He recalls a meeting reflective of the man and the era, at the Bridge Hotel.
“It was an odd interview. He would occasionally turn around, ask me a question, grumble in response then go back to his drinking group,” he remembers.
“About a week or so later he rang up and said ‘What are you doing? Give them your resignation and get over here when you can.’
“That was 30 years ago.”
At Nine in the ’80s, Kerry Packer was the boss in Sydney and beer was replenished in the GTV9 refrigerators (including being switched from VB to Swan when Alan Bond took charge). Working for John Sorell required a thick skin.
“He was you ‘old style’ news director. There was no airs and graces, it was a tough place to work and brutal at times. As a 22 year old it was quite an eye opener,” he admits.
“Only the tough survived, not just on the road, but in the newsroom.”
Amongst his broadcasting highlights, Jones recalls a heated members meeting at Dallas Brooks Hall when a merger was floated between Hawthorn and Melbourne, covering a 1994 Australian Cricket Team tour of South Africa after the dismantling of apartheid, getting heavied by security when he tried to interview Prince Albert in Puerto Rico during Melbourne’s bid for the 1996 Olympics, plus summer and winter games in London, Vancouver and Commonwealth Games.
But there’s also the tougher times watching colleagues getting retrenched, or even his own dumping from the Sunday Footy Show.
“I got the arse from that about 6 years ago,” he recalls. “It was a bit of a kick in the guts at the time, but you move on. You can’t take these things personally. I still had a job in the newsroom, that’s all that mattered.”
In recent years Jones has also served as summer anchor for Nine News when Peter Hitchener takes holidays.
“I make no bones about the fact that that’s what I consider the next step to be, but –and I’m not just saying this- I’d be the happiest man if Hitch says for another 5 years. I love working with him and we get on famously. He’s very much part of my family. My kids love him, my wife loves him. My dog’s not too rapt about him!
“Why would you want him to move on? It will be a lonely old news studio when he goes.”