Brian Edwards Media

Story!!!

Garner and du Plessis-Allan

You will have read that, following his unceremonious dumping by the Board of TV3, John Campbell is to join his close friend and former producer Carol Hirschfeld at Radio New Zealand where he will host Checkpoint. He’ll do the job very well of course, but the visual dimension will be lost. John’s face told you as much as, and sometimes more than his words. His approval or disapproval of a guest was invariably patent.

And then of course there was his ENTHUSIASM!!! That too will be missed.

Campbell may nonetheless be more suited to the hard-edged current affairs that Checkpoint offers than the high-rating, soft-serve confections that apparently turn the TV3 Board on. But I’ll still miss him on the box!  

And Story?

*Well, to begin with, I’m not entirely sure which meaning of ‘story’ TV3 intends. Are we to be “told a story” or “given the inside story”? The choice of presenters would suggest the latter. I have enormous respect for both Duncan Garner and Heather du Plessis-Allan but I also have some questions:

*Why two presenters at all, since the effect is to undermine rather than enhance the credibility and authority of both. And, to a degree, of the programme itself. One person is a presenter. Two presenters  is an act.

Take newsreaders Simon Dallow and Wendy Petrie. They’re one of the better acts, though an act nonetheless. Catch Simon pretend-listening to Wendy as he waits his turn to read the next item. ‘Good heavens, didn’t know that, Wendy!’ [TURN] ‘But try this for size!’

Mike Hosking and Toni Street are next up and the perceived difference in status is more pronounced.  More Tarzan and Jane, if you like, though there are differences. Tarzan had less to say than Mike; it was Jane who had the real speaking part.

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I need to make it clear that I’m a huge fan of Toni Street, whose capacity for patiently listening to Mike Hosking is only outdone by the almost maternal tolerance her face displays as if paying attention to a little boy who’s just got home from school and is excitedly telling a hugely long and not entirely interesting story.

I can’t see Heather du Plessis-Allan putting up with that or Duncan Garmer expecting her to. But I do have some questions:

*Why compete with Seven Sharp by putting on a programme that in format and personnel at least looks like its clone?

*Can the in-depth current affairs that a recent Listener article leads us to expect from Story really be achieved in the roughly 22 minutes of air time available in a commercial half-hour?

*How many items will normally fill those 22 minutes?

*Will Story suffer from the same level of largely one-sided badinage between the hosts as Seven Sharp?

*And what if the programme doesn’t meet the TV3 Board’s taste for bite-sized, tasty chunks?

But I’m at least encouraged by this quote from Duncan Garner also in the latest Listener:

“I think we’re going to try very hard not to make junk food.”

A welcome and particularly apt analogy.

11 Comments:

  1. I have watched the TV3 news for years. However over the last couple of months the evidence of the company’s financial woes has become evident. More filler stories from overseas, more stories without vision and more teasers to fill in expensive time.

    I therefore tried TV One again. But I find Petrie and Dallow unwatchable (and believe me I have challenged my own responses to them). Petrie has such a high voice I use it to clean my oven while Dallow is extremely fast and creates an impression of glibness. Put them together with the banal hyperbole used to create a sense of drama these days and I find the whole package both overstimulating and irritating.

    My prejudice no doubt, but I just share it since as a media expert I thought you might be interested in what turns people off particular formats.

  2. Its great news for Nat Rad listeners.I will miss Mary Wilsons interview style but John Campbell is a great replacement.
    http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/201765428/john-campbell-talks-about-joining-radio-nz

  3. Mediaworks picks losers from other channels & giving up popular programmes. They let go Home & Away. Picked up discarded Masterchef NZ. They got Paul Henry who were dropped by TV One & Aussies. Look at Newsworthy. Only thing they did not do in the first show is get a room after the spa & Shower. Disgusting. They got Samantha Hayes an investigative journalist playing second fiddle to a comedian who is not a comedian. Bottom line Mediaworks to survive need new Governance & Management to give it new direction & ideas. Or else they have to call receivers soon.

  4. I couldn’t possibly comment, since I’m still enjoying an out of order Sky connection which sends me to a warm bed and books to read. I just don’t miss what is on offer on the idiot box.

  5. Lest there be any misunderstanding, I need to make it clear that I’m a huge fan of Toni Street, whose capacity for patiently listening to Mike Hosking is only outdone by the almost maternal tolerance her face displays as if paying attention to a little boy who’s just got home from school and is excitedly telling a hugely long and not entirely interesting story.

    Thanks. This brightened up my day. :-)

  6. I remember the days when the news reader, was it Phillip Sherry?, would sternly gaze from the depths of his black and white box, and read to us an item of news. On completion, we could watch him turn the page as he prepared to read the next bulletin. It was slow, some would describe it as dull, but we got the news, and nothing but the news.

  7. I used to enjoy Mary Wilson, she got to the point and did not tolerate fools. I never did like “Campbell Live” John carped on and often embellished the story line. If he intends more of the same then it is, search for another channel or switch off time for me.

    • I agree Bill. Mary Wilson is arguably the sharpest interviewer in New Zealand. Campbell tends to waffle and emote. I’m glad he has found a new role but sorry that it is at the expense of Wilson, no matter that she is his “boss”. I always thought that she was too hot to handle for a lot of National politicians, and wondered how long it would be before she was gotten rid of altogether after playing a lesser role on Checkpoint for some time. I was surprised when I heard that that RNZ was going to hire Campbell, given that National has been stacking its management with its own supporters, but once I heard that he was replacing Wilson, maybe not so surprised.

    • I like Mary Wilson. I think she will be a loss. John Campbell, on the other hand, I just find annoying – all that gurning and emoting. But perhaps he will be better on radio.