Entertainment

The inside story of Tracy Vo’s sudden departure from the Today show

Newsreader Tracy Vo’s departure from the Today show came as a surprise to viewers, but her colleagues at Channel Nine had apparently anticipated it for weeks.

The journalist, 37, announced on Tuesday she was returning to Perth to be closer to her parents, just four months after moving to Sydney to join the breakfast program.

Multiple sources say she took advantage of a clause in her contract that gave her the option to return to Nine News Perth within six months if she ‘wasn’t happy’ at Today.

She is believed to have made the decision after feeling increasingly isolated from her family in Western Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

No surprise: Newsreader Tracy Vo’s departure from the Today show came as a surprise to viewers, but her colleagues at Channel Nine had apparently anticipated it for weeks

One insider said: ‘Tracy never gunned for the job. She was headhunted and brought out from Perth. Word is they begged her to take it.

‘Everybody at Nine, including [head of news] Darren Wick, thinks she’s great, and they were all confident she would stay in Sydney after her first six months.’

Another source said: ‘She’s very popular at Nine and well-liked in Perth – which is partly why they put her on Today, to try and attract more viewers from there.’

Emotional exit: Daily Mail Australia understands Tracy had a clause in her contract that gave her the option to return to Nine News Perth within six months if she ‘wasn’t happy’ at Today

‘She never settled in Sydney’: Multiple industry sources claim it was Tracy’s decision to leave Today and she wasn’t forced out by management. Pictured (left to right) with Karl Stefanovic, Allison Langdon, Alex Cullen and Brooke Boney

But Tracy supposedly had trouble ‘settling in’ after arriving in Sydney in January and told colleagues she feared she ‘couldn’t hack it’ on the Today show. 

A third source said: ‘Tracy never settled in Sydney. She is very family orientated, and her family is in Perth. She was living in temporary accommodation and hadn’t signed a lease, which suggests she always had Perth in the back of her mind.’

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Tracy is said to have ‘freaked out’ as the coronavirus pandemic worsened and state borders closed, prompting her decision to return home.

Family first: Tracy ‘freaked out’ as the coronavirus pandemic worsened and state borders closed, prompting her decision to return home to be with her family. Pictured with her father 

One source said: ‘The person doing her old job [at Nine News Perth] was only temporary, so she asked to go back to that, and Nine allowed her to.’

Another added: ‘She went to Perth for a holiday, but COVID-19 blew up and then it became a more permanent thing to transfer back to the Perth newsroom.’

Daily Mail Australia understands Tracy may eventually return to the Today show, but if she does ‘it will be her decision’. 

Open door: Daily Mail Australia understands Tracy may eventually return to the Today show, but if she does ‘it will be her decision’. Pictured at her home in Perth on Tuesday

Tracy has been replaced on Today by sports reporter Alex Cullen. It hasn’t been confirmed if or when she will return to the show.

She will resume her old job presenting Nine News Perth from Wednesday, as well as hosting the local weekend news.

‘I felt it was the best thing to head back west to be close to my family at this uncertain time,’ Tracy told TV Blackbox on Monday. 

‘I just want to make sure everyone stays safe, looks out for each other, and of course, always practise social distancing.’  

New role: Tracy has been replaced on Today by sports reporter Alex Cullen (pictured). It hasn’t been confirmed if or when she will return to the show

One of the few Vietnamese faces on Australian TV, Tracy began her journalism career in radio, reporting for Western Australia’s 6PR Radio and Curtin FM 100.1.

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She moved from Perth to Sydney in 2004 after nabbing the role of breakfast editor and newsreader at local radio station 2SM.  

Over the next few years, Tracy made the transition to television, working for the likes of Sky News and Channel 10.

She joined Nine News Sydney in 2007 and spent five years in the newsroom covering a wide variety of stories.

Popular: Before joining the Today show, she’d worked at Nine for more than a decade, having landed her first job at the network in 2007

Career: She moved from Perth to Sydney in 2004 after nabbing the role of breakfast editor and newsreader at local radio station 2SM. Over the next few years, Tracy made the transition to television, working for the likes of Sky News and Channel 10

In an interview with 9Honey in 2017, Tracy referred to Sylvia Jeffreys as one of her closest friends from her days at Nine in Sydney.

She said: ‘Building really solid friendships like Sylvia Jeffreys and Amelia Adams, they’re still two of my closest friends, despite being on the other side of the country.’

In 2012, Tracy left the Sydney bureau and returned to Perth to care for her parents.

Pals: In an interview with 9Honey in 2017, Tracy referred to Sylvia Jeffreys (right) as one of her closest friends from her days at Nine in Sydney

There, she joined the Nine News Perth team as a reporter and fill-in presenter.   

She is no stranger to covering hard-hitting news stories, having reported on events including the death of Nelson Mandela, Schapelle Corby’s release from prison and the mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.

In addition, she has also worked as a political reporter for the network in Canberra.

Done it before: She joined Nine News Sydney in 2007 and spent five years in the newsroom covering a wide variety of stories. In 2012, Tracy left the Sydney bureau and returned to Perth to care for her parents 

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Proving she really can do it all, she became a published author in 2014 with the release of Small Bamboo – the story of her family’s dramatic escape from war-torn Vietnam in 1978. 

She was once the victim of a drink spiking rampage, which saw offenders Chebli Djait and Adel Samadi prey on nine women – including Tracy – and three men during a six-day period in October 2004.

According to a report by the Sydney Morning Herald in 2006, Tracy testified against the two men in court following the incident, which took place at Pontoon Bar in Sydney’s Darling Harbour.

Past: She was once the victim of a drink spiking rampage, which saw offenders Chebli Djait and Adel Samadi prey on nine women – including Tracy – and three men during a six-day period in October 2004

Tracy claimed that the men had bought her a vodka drink, but said she could hardly recall anything after that.

‘I just wasn’t seeing straight, and from that point, parts of the evening blacked out,’ she told the court.

Recalling the incident, Tracy said she remembered feeling strange, as though she was ‘really, really, really drunk’.

Ordeal: Tracy fronted the NSW District Court in 2006 to testify, with the men each being sentenced to 15 years in prison. Pictured at Downing Centre Court in Sydney in 2006

The next day, she felt exhausted and was hardly able to move.  

It turned out the men had been spiking people’s drinks with epilepsy medication in an attempt to steal their belongings and, in some cases, sexually assault their victims.

Tracy fronted the NSW District Court in 2006 to testify, with the men each being sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to an ABC report at the time.

Hard-hitting: She is no stranger to covering hard-hitting news stories, having reported on events including the death of Nelson Mandela, Schapelle Corby’s release from prison and the mystery of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

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