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Brian Edwards and Judy Callingham offer professional and effective media training for people in both the private and public sectors.
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Shit Happens! An Open Letter to John Campbell

 

Shit happens, John. I’ve been “let go”, sacked from more broadcasting jobs in New Zealand than I care to remember. And, more than once, with absolutely no warning.  To add insult to injury, the sackings generally occurred at a time when the show was enjoying both public acclaim and ratings success.

Top of the Morning (1994-1999)

In December 1999 my producer, Catherine Saunders, and I were summoned to Wellington for a meeting with Radio New Zealand CEO Sharon Crosbie, an old friend of both of us.  “Summoned”  is perhaps the wrong word. Catherine and I had made a habit of going down to Wellington just before Christmas to persuade Sharon that the success of TOTM merited yet another increase in our pay. Sharon would sigh wearily but to date had come to the party.

We were pretty sure of a warm reception. The latest radio survey had just come out. TOTM, whose previous incarnation had a cumulative audience of around 80,000 when I took over the slot in 1995, now had an audience of 340,000. It was the highest rating Saturday morning radio programme in the country, not to mention outrating almost every other programme on National Radio. We had every reason to expect a warm reception from the boss.

We were called in separately to be told the news. I’d been sacked.

To this day I have absolutely no idea why I was sacked as host of TOTM. Poor ratings? Get real! Poor listener response? Ditto! My role as media advisor to Helen Clark, the newly elected Prime Minister? Hardly, TOTM was a politics-free zone with the exception of one personality-style interview – with Jenny Shipley! Which leaves two defamation writs in 5 years, neither of which, in my reasonably informed opinion, should every have been settled.

Certainly not the second, in which Paul Holmes claimed $5,000 for allegedly having been defamed by yours truly on the show

This is what happened. A close friend of Paul had told me Paul had been highly disappointed by the low-key nature of a TV election debate he’d chaired between Jenny Shipley and Helen Clark. Paul had, according to the close friend, “been hoping for a cat fight”. I mentioned this in passing on the show. Paul issued a writ against RNZ for defamation and RNZ caved. I’m not sure which is more unbelievable – for a broadcaster of Pauls’ reputation to be so thin-skinned, or Radio New Zealand so chicken-livered as to settle this preposterous suit.

You know the rest, John. When the news got out, you interviewed me on TV3 News about the sacking. You were very supportive.

Then there was a public outcry. Thousands of people wrote to Radio New Zealand to protest. A couple of “offers they know you can’t accept” were made to me by  RNZ during all of this.

Sound familiar?

Shit happens, John.

But wait, there’s more! Read the rest of this entry »

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Teasing Out The Ponytail Affair

female-bully-1

John Key, the Prime Minister of New Zealand,  liked to tease Amanda Bailey, a waitress at the Cafe Rosie in Parnell, by pulling her ponytail. He did so repeatedly over a reasonably lengthy period, despite being asked by the waitress on more than one occasion to stop. His initial response was that he was, with his wife Bronagh, a regular customer at the the cafe where, despite his being the PM, the atmosphere when he was there was always jovial and jokey. He didn’t think he had been doing anything wrong. It was just a bit of fun, a bit of “horseplay”. He has since apologised publicly to the waitress, essentially saying that he’d misread the situation and got it wrong. He won’t, we can be reasonably certain, ever pull a waitress’s ponytail again.

So what we’re talking about here is teasing. The school playground is probably the most common place to encounter teasing. If ponytails are allowed in New Zealand schools, I have very little doubt that girls (and quite possibly boys) with ponytails will have had them pulled on numerous occasions and will be thoroughly fed up with it. They will no doubt have asked their tormentors on numerous occasions to ‘cut it out’. Their pleas will almost certainly have been ignored.    Read the rest of this entry »

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From Omaha to Hotel California

View from the bach at Leigh

View from the bach at Leigh

About 6 months ago we bought ourselves a bach in Leigh. It’s not terribly posh. You could easily mistake it for a Lockwood, but it’s half way up a cliff and all you can see from the deck is the sea and the horizon and, jutting out, the distant peninsula that is home to the Tauwharanui Regional Park and, on a clear day, Great Barrier Island. And all you can hear are the waves breaking on the rocks at the bottom of the cliff.

To get from Auckland to Leigh, you head for the Warkworth turn-off to Matakana, then on to Leigh bypassing the turn-0ff to Omaha.

I remembered that John Key has a holiday home at Omaha where he barbecued chops and sausages for John Campbell.

I’m a nosy bugger and about a month ago could no longer resist the temptation to check out the resort which our Prime Minister had chosen as his Kiwi  – as distinct from Hawaiian – holiday destination.

I gather there’s a fashionable and unfashionable part of Omaha. Homes in the “unfashionable” part have apparently just hit the $3 million mark, so the price of a “bach” in “fashionable” Omaha must be astronomical.

To satisfy my curiosity about Omaha Judy and I made  a detour on our way from Matakana to Leigh.

There are a lot of posh and a lot of not-so-posh-looking houses. The land in front of the houses is flat, so the only elevation above sea level, and therefore the only view of the sea, is from any storey above ground level. The streets in front of the houses form a grid of roughly parallel lines.   We drove down Street One for as far as we could go, then did a U-turn round the median strip into Street Two which ran parallel and brought us back to our starting point.

It was a deeply depressing excursion.

I’m sitting on the couch in our “Lockwood” now, looking across the sea to the horizon, interrupted on one side by Great and Little Barrier and on the other by the Tauwharanui Peninsula. Occasionally you can see the Coromandel. But you can always hear the waves breaking on the rocks.

I’m listening to my all time favourite LP, The Eagles’ Hotel California – The Last Resort:

“Some rich men came and raped the land,
Nobody caught ‘em
Put up a bunch of ugly boxes, and Jesus,
people bought ‘em
And they called it paradise
The place to be
They watched the hazy sun, sinking in the sea

“And you can see them there,
On Sunday morning
They stand up and sing about
what it’s like up there
They call it paradise
I don’t know why
You call someplace paradise,
kiss it goodbye”

Love that song!

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