Telum Talks To... Jodie Gunders, Executive Producer at ABC's Queensland Country Hour
How has the ABC's Country Hour programme evolved over its 75 years?
In the beginning, Country Hour had an important part to play in educating farmers. Now, farmers have a broad range of tools at their disposal, so our programming has evolved. We continue to create content for a primary industry audience, but we also produce rural content for broader audiences, recognising the public’s increasing interest in food production and sustainability.
What do you think the ABC Country Hour provides your audiences that other outlets cannot?
Boots on the ground! We have rural reporters all over the country, from Kununurra to Burnie, Geraldton to Mackay, and everywhere in between. The face-to-face contact we have with our audience - and the hours spent in the field - sets us apart. We know rural communities and what matters to them because we live here too.
What are the key trends in agribusiness at the moment, and how is ABC Country Hour covering them?
Agriculture is such a fascinating field. Consumer interest in food production and animal welfare has given rise to fake meat and plant-based alternatives to milk and dairy. Carbon farming and regenerative agriculture are other growth areas, as the agricultural sector seeks to address the challenges of climate change. And farmers are innovators! There is a lot happening in robotics and traceability. We cover it all with a view to creating content that is rigorous and meaningful to the ag sector, and also accessible to an urban-based audience.
Can you explain the relationship between the different ABC Country Hour programmes across Australia? Is there any specific content that you syndicate between shows?
We work together closely, starting with an early morning editorial meeting where we share ideas and plan stories for the day. Big yarns with national significance will get a run on more than one programme. If you have a story that would work for multiple states, you don’t have to pitch it to every Country Hour producer. Just pick one, and we will share it around to avoid duplication. We are really fortunate to have a Reporter based in Parliament House, Canberra, and we also work closely with a small team of highly experienced national rural reporters.
Could you explain the relationship between ABC Country Hour and ABC Rural? What is each responsible for and where do they sit within the broader ABC organisation?
The Country Hour programmes and the ABC’s specialist rural reporters, including the National Rural and Regional Reporting Team, all sit within the ABC’s Regional and Local division, which is one of the biggest in the organisation. Rural reporters continue to produce high-quality radio content, but also spend a lot of their time producing digital stories and, increasingly, filing for television. Rural reporting for the ABC in 2021 is very much a multiplatform gig.
How many producers and reporters are roughly involved in each Country Hour show?
It varies from state to state. In Queensland, we have two part-time presenters and a Producer putting together the Country Hour each day, with contributions from nine rural reporters around the state. In contrast, the Northern Territory and Tasmania Country Hours are put together with just a Presenter, a Producer and two rural reporters.
What would your ideal story pitch from a PR look like?
An ideal pitch is one that’s tailored to the Country Hour’s brief and what we’re looking for. Have some talent for us to chat to, even better if you can offer women and / or culturally and linguistically diverse talent. We especially love the people who are on the ground, doing the work rather than the talking heads in the city office.
Do you have any pet peeves when it comes to PR pitches?
A big pet peeve is when PR people put out a press release, but then don’t have any talent available to interview. Or when they approach multiple reporters with the same story. Just pick one of us and we will get it to the right programmes!
Do you have any editorial deadlines that people should know about?
We are on air from midday each weekday, so the earlier the better. Our reporters also work across online and television, so consider pictures if you have a story that will work on multiple platforms.