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Following God’s still, small voice

Emilie Ng  |  28 October 2020

Journalist Jo Hayes says her successful media career is largely the result of praying and listening to God. 

Hundreds of thousands of people across Brisbane know her voice, but journalist Jo Hayes says there’s only one voice in the world that matters to her.

God’s comparatively still, small voice has helped the 35-year-old Catholic carve an impressive yet unlikely journalism career in radio and television, including the ‘God moment’ that landed her a most recent gig with 7News Brisbane.

Born and bred in Brisbane, Jo’s Catholic faith has been a pivotal part of her journalism career – there isn’t one news job that hasn’t grow off the back of many hours of prayer, whether her favourite daily practice of Lectio Divina or a 54-day Novena. Like many journalists, Jo’s news career has been a winding pilgrimage from one job to another.

‘So, I was a speech pathologist and after getting my degree and working for a year I realised that I needed to do something else’, Jo says.

YOUTH MISSION TEAM VOLUNTEER

She took a break from work in Melbourne in 2008 to volunteer for Youth Mission Team, a national organisation that facilitates retreats and reflection days for Catholic school students.

‘It was during that year that I had a resurgence of this childhood dream to be a reporter, to be a journalist’, Jo says.

‘It was what I wanted to do since I was a little girl but for various reasons just didn’t pursue it after high school. I just knew that I needed to give journalism a go.’

After shadowing a newsreader at her local Christian radio station, 96Five, which eventually led to full-time work, Jo studied a Masters degree in Journalism and prayed for God to open some doors.

In 2012 she landed a role as breakfast newsreader for Brisbane’s second-most popular commercial radio station, 4KQ. The job meant waking up in total darkness for seven-and-a-half years and presenting the news to more than 200,000 listeners.

LEARNED SO MUCH

‘It truly was just such a fun ride and taught me so much about mainstream journalism in a secular workplace and I just really felt so covered by God in that time’, Jo says.

While working at 4KQ, Jo realised a more specific childhood dream emerging – to be a television journalist. But with no experience in TV news, the dream looked impossible, at least in the natural world.

‘It is just unheard of, to go from not being in TV at all to getting a job at a capital TV newsroom’, she says. ‘No one does that, but I knew that’s what I wanted to do.’

Jo prayed that 2016 would be the year she broke into television, and more specifically, a job with Channel 7.

‘I remember doing a 54-day Novena in August-September of 2016, really praying and fasting for God to open the doors for me for a job at Channel 7.’

Jo eventually scheduled a meeting with Channel 7’s boss at the time and said very boldly to him in that meeting ‘I really want a job with you’.

‘And I’m not kidding, he said “Alright, you can start this weekend”’, she says.

Her first job was to cover a story on Australian netball team Queensland Firebirds and she’s never looked back since.

‘I remember interviewing the representative from the Firebirds and holding the Channel 7 microphone and just standing there going, “I absolutely love this”’, she laughs.

While Jo has continued her freelance work with Channel 7, last year she heard that still, small voice yet again urging her to end her radio career.

MEANT TO DO

‘I had been sensing this call for about 12 months, so I knew that I knew that I knew that it was what I was meant to do, and God had really placed on my heart a list of things that I desired to complete and tick off this year.’

In February 2020, Jo switched off her microphone in the 4KQ news booth for the last time to pursue this new season with God. Then, the pandemic hit Australia.

To make matters worse, her bread-and-butter project, the one that would provide her basic income for a while, was put on hold for at least six months.

‘I was really nervous for a period of time and I was really just baffled, looking at God going “OK, I know that I heard you, so you must have a plan, but you must reveal it to me very soon because I don’t know how I’m going to pay my bills”’, Jo says.

Thankfully, she was able to get extra work from Channel 7, which held her over until she finally got a call back from the manager of her other project. In November she will be launching her first investigative news show, ‘Untold’, with international Catholic station Shalom World TV.

‘It’s an amazing opportunity to cover some really in-depth and important news stories through the lens of truth and through the lens of our faith’, she says.

Jo strongly believes that people of faith should chase their dreams the way she chased her TV dream.

‘God loves it when your dreams are brought to fruition because God is glorified when men and women are fully alive’, she says.

TO LIVE FULLY ALIVE LIVES

‘He wants us to live these fully alive lives where our dreams and desires are fulfilled because we are full of joy and fulfilment and that is a witness to the unbelieving world.

‘I can say that wholeheartedly and without a shadow of a doubt that I know that I was put on this earth to be a TV journalist.’

And she knows none of it could have happened without that still, small voice.

‘We need to make sure our spiritual ears are open to Him, to His voice, and turned down to the voice of the world and the only way we can do that is by spending quality time with God so that his voice is louder than the voices of the world’, she says. 

 

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