Yooralla customer writes about his visit to Channel Nine

Supported by Yooralla, Tim, who attends Yooralla’s St Albans Community Hub, has been working hard this year towards achieving his NDIS goal.

Yooralla customer Tim Jong, whose National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) goal is to be a professional writer, has written an article (please see below) about his recent visit to the Channel Nine studio in Docklands.

Supported by Yooralla, Tim, who attends Yooralla’s St Albans Community Hub, has been working hard this year towards achieving his NDIS goal.

Tim has been writing articles for the Hub’s quarterly newsletter that goes out to customers and their families and carers, to further develop his writing skills and to gain practical experience.

Tim also recently won the 2019 Dulcie Stone Writers Competition for his submission titled ‘Getting to Know Me’.

Tim shines at Nine
By Timothy Jong

I travel to Southern Cross train station to watch AFL football matches, whenever Brisbane Lions are playing at Marvel Stadium. While I’m driving to the big match in my wheelchair, the Channel Nine logo on the GTV 9 building catches my eye. Where the network broadcast the news from Bourke Street, as oppose to where they record big productions, such Millionaire Hot Seat and Talkin’ ‘Bout Your Generation from Docklands studios.

Due to my interest of reading online articles related to television on websites such, as TV Tonight and the Herald Sun. Also, being inspired by television news legend, Peter Hitchener and having the privilege communicating to him on social media occasionally. I’ve been fascinated and wanted to go in a television studio, while they are going live to air.

This time, with the assistance of warm up guy Michael Pope, who also communicates to me about various topics through social media. He passed my email address on to Kylie, the person who you can contact about being apart of a studio audience. When I came home from camp, I chose an appropriate date for me and support worker Hisae, to attend the Channel Nine tour and finalised it with Kyle.

Accompanied by the legendary news reader Peter Hitchener on the tour, ‘Hitchy’, he’s known to some of his peers. He first introduced Hisae and I to his boss, who was already there. There was a police officer with her mum coming on the tour as well; she was eventually on the afternoon news at 4pm for an interview.

First up we were shown the small studio, where The Sunday Footy Show and the children’s show Kids WB are shot. These two shows use the same space, but they change the set for each show. This means that when one show is wrapped up for filming, a group of people called set designers come in and change the whole set around to get it ready for the next show.

One of the topics I brought up with ‘Hitchy’ while we were viewing this small studio, was how Brian Naylor and his wife, who were engulfed by the flames that led to tragic passing of the married couple in the Black Saturday fires in 2009. Brian Naylor was the main news presenter at Nine in the 80s and 90s, before the former news reader retired in 1998.

I asked the present anchor how he managed keep a straight face and not getting emotional, while delivering the dire news about his friend to his audience. Mr Hitchener replied “It was really upsetting, but it was my job to tell our viewers what had happened Brian and Moiree”.

Down the passageway of Melbourne’s GTV Channel 9 building we went, whilst I was gazing at the framed photos of network stars, from the Today show, The Voice and the now defunct AFL Footy Show.

I have been tracking the longest running breakfast program; the Today show’s rating slum for a number of years. I asked my tour guide Mr Hitch, would the network axe the Today program. No, but the show will make further changes, he replied. ‘Today’ has been losing more of its viewers Australia wide, since executives have shown one of their hosts the door from the breakfast program. Now, as a result of that, early morning risers look like they have switched to other morning TV offerings.

Around the corner, there was a small and squashy room where they put make up in, before the presenters go on air. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to go inside the squashy room. But, from looking into the make-up room, I noticed the two large mirrors with the small bright lights surrounding the mirrors. I could also see two chairs with someone sitting in one of them.

Veering around the final corner in my wheelchair and driving down the steady ramp, before the three of us entered Nine’s news studio. I took the time looking at the current presenters which were framed on the left side of the wall. There were the three current week night hosts on the 6pm news, including Alicia Loxley and Nine Network legend Jo Hall. When I finished memorising the photos of the celebrities and then got to the bottom of the ramp, there was one last portrait, this time of Eddie McGuire.

After doing all that, it was time to go into what I went on the tour for, the Nine News studio of course! Greeting Hisae and I at the door was reporter Brett McLoud. I became feeling excited, as I saw the bright Nine News logo on the widescreen in the distance. Driving over cables on the ground with my wheelchair and heading towards the set at the back of the studio, then I knew I was on the ‘Big stage’.

Exploring around the news set I went, trying to see everything I could on this special day. But, I wasn’t able to sit behind the desk, as there was a step before it. I did point out the autocue or the teleprompter to Peter. The autocue is a machine with text, where the on-air TV hosts reads from.

Before Brett McLoud read the four o’clock news bulletin, I watched Mr Hitchener as he pre-recorded a promo of the daily news events for radio station, Light FM. While Peter went off to do a voice over, it was time at the stroke at 4pm for Brett McLoud to go live.

Each time before and after a doing a live cross to a roving reporter including ad breaks, the camera guy calls out and queues when the presenter is on or off air. I was surprisingly feeling relaxed and calm, as I was trying to capture the moment in my mind.

Before too long Livinia Nixon walks in the studio to say the weather report. Livinia is lovely and a warm woman. Her friendly smiley with tanned face stunned me. Also, her big eyes with flicked up lashes really stood out at me, even though I’ve met her at the Royal Melbourne Show.

Mr Peter Hitchener offered Hisae and I to stay to watch him saying the news bullion at 6pm, but Hisae had already called my mum to extend her shift working with me. Plus, Youssef the taxi driver was waiting to load me in his taxi, from opposite the GTV building. While back at Channel Nine, ‘Hitch’ walked us back to the foyer, saying thank-you for coming and finally shaking hands. Overall, I had a great day at the television station and I have memories and photos that I’ll keep forever!

The purpose of seeing what they do in a TV news studio to have a basic understanding.  A part of my NDIS goal is having one on one support each Wednesday.   I am feeling like I’m growing my knowledge of how to glue my articles together and how to make sense for people reading them. One day taking my writing skills, I would like to find a volunteer position.  Injecting the skills which I’ve learned into my volunteering position, I could explore the endless possible options.

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