Behind Yates' motorsport broadcasting aspiration

  • Repco Supercars Championship
  • |
  • 16/09/2021
  • By Charlie Bullis

Supercars host Jess Yates has detailed the key advice given by the mentors who ignited her passion to pursue a career in motorsport broadcasting.

The popular Foxtel host has skippered Supercars broadcasts since 2015 alongside Hall of Fame inductees Mark Skaife and Neil Crompton.

Yates has spent 15 years with Foxtel, and also anchors coverage of the NRL, Big Bash and domestic one-day cricket, and international surfing.

The 2021 season marks Yates' seventh season as the hosting face of Supercars.

She also welcomed her second child in April, and returned to the host desk at Tailem Bend.

The 37-year-old travelled with her young son and daughter to the Supercars events in Darwin and Townsville, before returning home to Sydney.

Speaking on the V8 Sleuth Podcast, Yates explained the important advice that kick-started her career path.

"When I was much younger, I was involved with the Australian Supercross and Motocross championships and did some promotional stuff with them," she said.

"It was on Channel 10 at the time; we were telecasting but it wasn't live, but Greg Rust was there hosting.

"I knew I would really like to be in television, and I'd like to be a journalist, but I wasn’t sure of which pathway I was going to take.

"Michael Heaton - who was the producer at Channel 10 at the time - was there, so I asked him for some career advice.

"I had a really interesting conversation with [Heaton]... he said to go and get a university degree, go and get a real qualification, and then say yes to everything, start knocking on doors, try and get as much experience as you can, and just don't take no for an answer.

"I'll always remember that advice."

Yates studied journalism at Charles Sturt University in Bathurst and completed work experience with Fox Sports and Channel 10.

Yates at the 2021 Repco Supercars Championship launch

The experience included several days working with 10's sports department.

It was there she met former Supercars commentator and Channel 10 host Matt White.

"I'll never forget; I went in the studio, and when I was introduced to the team, Matt got up out of the seat," Yates said of meeting White.

"He said, 'Just come and sit at my desk, I'll log you in, and I'll show you how we do everything'. He's a superstar.

"He took time out of his day to talk to me and show me how everything worked. He said, 'If you've got any questions, please come and ask me'.

"I'll never forget that moment either because Matt didn't have to do that, he didn't have to talk to me. He didn't have to take time out of his day to talk to the work experience girl, but he did.

"I like to pay that forward because those really important people took some time out and that made all the difference to the impression that I got about the industry.

Yates and Matt White at 2016 Supercars Gala Awards

"I remember sitting at the desk and doing a screen test, that tape still exists."

Once graduated, Yates worked as an Assistant Producer with Channel Nine before heading overseas on a 12-month post as a sub-editor for a Laos newspaper.

She returned to Australia at age 22, and worked as a freelance journalist for several networks, before gaining a full-time role with Fox Sports.

Working long shifts and grasping every opportunity, Yates reflected on one of her most important mentors, Fox Sports head of operations Tim Moran.

"I'll never forget Tim Moran, because he said to me, 'If you really want this, there's an opportunity here for you, but you have to work hard, and you have to say yes to every opportunity'," she said.

"At that time, I might get in at 4am in the morning and I wouldn't leave until nine o'clock that night, because someone would ask, 'Can you stay?'

"[I'd reply] 'Absolutely, whatever you need me to do'. I just wanted it so badly, and that was really sage advice.

Yates with Mark Skaife and Neil Crompton

"I'll be grateful to him forever because he was such a wonderful mentor to me, really taught me the tricks of the trade, and encouraged me to go for it.

"It wasn't easy then because there weren't a lot of women... in fact, there were maybe two or three other girls and we were all on different sides of the roster, so you never saw anybody.

"That can be pretty daunting. I was 22 years old.

"You’re going into this really male-dominated workplace, but also in sports, anything you were reporting on was on men. I was interviewing men all the time.

"To have somebody in my corner who said, 'I believe in you, you can do this, you should go for it', was massive.

"There's been definitely a couple of people in my journey who really encouraged me and given me some really great advice on how to sort of navigate my way into the industry.

"I have had the opportunity and I really look for those opportunities where I can be that person for someone because, that's how it works, right?"

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