Friday, 10 March 2017

Joy Hruby. A wonderful lady.

This story is about my experiences with Joy Hruby. 
I met Joy in 2001, I was studying film and media production. As a student needing work experience. 
community TV was a good option . Channel 31 in those days was  an  obscure channel people used to get without knowing what it was. The signal was weak or unreliable, reception was limited  to residents here and there . 
Community TV was around in Redfern since 1988. 
My dream was to be on TV. I enquired about CTV1, an underfunded grass roots set up. I had to find a program to work on that wanted me. 
Joys show " Around the world with Joy Hruby " was filmed on a Tuesday night. I remembered turning up to what was a mixed bag of odd people a cross between a pantomime and crisis centre. Being community TV means everyone was working for free, it served as a training ground for aspiring TV presenters or crew to eventually make their way into the mainstream. Until then I was doing extras work on  All Saints or Home and Away.
There was this crazy but endearing energy on the set of what was a storage space in the basement of the housing commission towers at Redfern. You couldn't get any more grass roots than this. 
I met Joy , she was this sweet wonderful lovely warm old Aussie lady from a bygone era. A tiny bit of a theatrical diva, Joy was a cross between Dame Edna and Gloria Swanson. Always calm and poised Joy spoke The Queens English in eloquent style ! 
I immediately felt liked and accepted. Joy later said when we met she wasn't sure but she gave me a go anyway. Joys attitude of giving people a go launched many careers, it also gave purpose to the idle , disadvantaged, or those like me starting out. 
There was a deep sense of community and connection between everyone, completely different people made instant friendships . 
From the beginning Joy allowed me to produce and present my own weekly 6 minute segment. 
For someone who was doing a media film course this was a huge break in humble circumstances. 
For several years I would find / organise guests  while pitching the ideas to Joy, then with her guidance interview them on the show . This was broadcast live to the local residents, that was CTV1, then put on a tape to be dropped off to channel 31 to be broadcast to the Sydney area as well. 
Joy was many things , she was the producer, director and star of her own show, but she also shared the spotlight with others. Every week she offered advice on how to present, or tips to improve  interviewing skills . This was an incubation of better things to come. For several years I cut my teeth, 
But at the same time enjoyed it. 
2002 after 9/11 was a turbulent time politically . Looking back now,  it was incredible to note that all those different independently produced shows by various radical groups , most with an agenda to push - where not censored , while at the same time there where a growing number of viewers watching  . There where anti everything shows. Anti Israel, anti establishment, anti corporate etc. there where shows that where pro anything the government objected to. So the plug was pulled. 
Community was shut down for a while, then the licence was put out to Tender. 
The new community station was TVS , that's Television Sydney, part of Sydney western universality campus based out at Penrith. TVS had new management but also involved many from the original channel 31.  Joy was on the new board . She pushed hard for me to have my own show, based on the fact I had 4 years experience on her show. The new board agreed on the condition it was to be a Greek Cooking Show !!!!  Joy had a huge influence on my life . 
Working with other students from film school we made a pilot show, which was approved by TVS, 
Then I did one 13 part series of a highly successful Greek Cooking show called "Greek Style " 
This TV series was then picked up by community TV channels in Melbourne, Brisbane , Adelaide and Perth. This was the most exciting era of my life. From the most humble beginnings I became a successful tv producer, presenter and celebrity ! 
All along Joy was supportive. Her show became a star factory, many of her presenters went on to create their own shows. This was a wonderful time for many including the grateful public who had access to real people creating independent shows, with no budget, no corporate or political interference . Joy was the proud mother hen. Her ugly ducklings became the new generation of black swans. 
In the meantime for 7 years I made lifestyle show " Yianni's City Life " a mix of cooking, interviews , fashion and events. In 2010 my show was in the best lifestyle program category in the Logies .
Joy continued to do her show in Botany, it was filmed in the garage of her tiny townhouse . As Joy grew elderly she allowed others to do more for her. There was a loyal group of presenters and crew who in the end took over. 
The only time I saw Joy angry was during the battle to stop the closure of community TV.
The enemy was the then communications minister Malcolm Turnball. He decided it was time for community TV to be online only ! 
How can it be TV if its not on TV ? Unfortunately the spectrum was sold to Optus and Telstra for billions of dollars...this was a sad end to a great era of broadcast community free to air tv. 
Through crowd funding Joy raised several thousands of $$$, this enabled her to keep producing her show for You Tube.  
Joy became frail at but was always in good spirits, deeply religious yet non judgemental. I remember once years ago mentioning how bitter some people become with time. Joys respond was "that's the easy way out " Joy kept herself busy, there where many people around her because she was this loving mother , aunt, or Grandmother figure . Joys children and their kids are equally similar. 
In the last few years Joy went into a nursing home, the first one " Sir Joseph Banks " around the corner from her home , Joy was able come home  every day for several hours . Then Joy got a spot at a very nice place at Rushcutters Bay -Elizabeth Lodge. There she had her own room with a pleasant view, the atmosphere there was happy. I visited Joy twice. About a week before Joy passed away I just had this feeling to see her. I popped in at lunch time, in the dining room , we sat together and ate a meal.  
Mentally Joy was in fine , we had in depth conversation, but she did look weak. Joy was planning her 90th birthday for Saturday July 1st 2017. 
Joys funeral at Maroubra was the happiest one I've ever experienced. I am Greek Orthodox and our funerals are so depressing ! Yes we where sad - but the day was a true celebration of a great person who lived more than most. Joy was well prepared for her departure she pre made a video dressed as an angle talking to us from heaven. The church was packed , then we all headed to the Yarra bay sailing club near her original home at La Perouse for the most Joy-us wake ! 
Joy Hruby thanks for the great memories - see you in heaven one day ! Hugs 
Yianni Zinonos 

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