Jonty Messer: From tractors to television
PUBLISHED: 11:40 06 August 2019
Home is where the heart, and the news is, as we discover from ITV News Presenter Jonty Messer
From driving a tractor to driving the news agenda: not an obvious career path perhaps but for Jonty Messer, it was always going to be the one for him. Growing up on his family farm gave an idyllic childhood; full of helping with the harvest and working on the land: "I absolutely loved driving my dad's tractors up and down the fields but I'm afraid I am a fair weather farmer" Jonty tells me, "It's great in the sunshine but not quite so good in the winter!"
Thankfully though there was no pressure from his parents to take on the family farm, instead they were more than happy for Jonty to pursue his natural curiosity and general nosiness about life: "I love meeting people and hearing their stories and after studying psychology at UWE Bristol I knew that I had to follow my passion. All those years listening to the news on the radio when helping on the farm led me to complete a post-graduate degree in Broadcast Journalism in London."
For Jonty home is always the West Country and it wasn't long before he was back in Bristol; chasing up and down the M5 freelancing for lots of different radio stations learning his craft and doing whatever was thrown at him: "I have to say that working for BBC Radio Somerset was one of the best times because we were a small team, we were young and we got to do loads of different roles. "That's what I really love about local radio and television; if you are good and you say 'yes' to everything then you get the chance to do lots of interesting things. I would be out on the canals, Taunton High Street and then the cricket ground always meeting interesting people. I love hearing stories about where they live and what is important to them. I get to meet lots of important people in my job but the best stories are the ones from the unsung heroes, just going about their lives."
A career move to ITV in Bristol nine years ago was a big change from radio but Jonty's ethic of working hard and saying 'yes' to every opportunity certainly paid off. From starting out behind the scenes it wasn't long before he was presenting the breakfast bulletins and the sport. Then the moment came that every aspiring presenter dreams of; the main news presenter was unavailable and Jonty got the call to step in.
From there it has just snowballed and last year Jonty became the anchor of the flagship news programme for ITV News West Country alongside Kylie Pentelow. It's a role that Jonty doesn't take for granted: "I love featuring those that are doing amazing work. We forget sometimes there are a lot of good people about, doing good things and it is great that, at 6pm every weekday, we get to highlight that. Yes, there are lots of serious matters going on as well but at the end of the programme hopefully viewers are left with the feeling that where they live is actually a great place to be. Although I am slightly biased of course; the West Country is just simply amazing!"
Home life is just as busy as the day job with two young children and wife Katie, who also has a successful career as a chiropractor: "Katie has always been there for me. I used to drive her up and down the fields in my dad's tractor all those years ago but I must have done something right as she married me!"
The buzz of live TV is one that Jonty will never tire of: "There is nothing like it; the adrenalin just races through you as a little voice in your head tells you there are lots of people watching. "The minute before we go on air it is silent apart from the PA counting down in your earpiece, 30 seconds, 15 seconds etc and then the music starts; that's my favourite bit."
I suspect you have often wondered what the presenters are saying at the beginning of the programme just before the microphones are turned up? Well Jonty can reveal: "I usually say something like, 'Have a good show' but I was working with one presenter recently who asked me not to saying anything as it might make her laugh!"
When it goes wrong...
Jonty tells us a funny tale from his time in broadcast: "You have to be prepared for anything but one evening the back of Kylie's dress broke just before we went on air. I had to use a giant clip to hold it together for the whole programme."