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Newstalk ZB

Newstalk ZB
Newstalk ZB Logo 2015
Broadcast area New Zealand
Frequency List available below
Format News and talk
Owner NZME Radio
Webcast Auckland
Website Official website
Corporate website

Newstalk ZB is a nationwide New Zealand talk radio network operated by NZME Radio. It is available in almost every radio market in the country, and has news reporters based in many of them. In addition to talkback, the network also broadcasts news, interviews, music, and sports (sometimes in partnership with its sister network Radio Sport). The network's hosts include Rachel Smalley, Mike Hosking, Leighton Smith, Larry Williams, Jack Tame and Tony Veitch. Wellington has a local morning show hosted by Tim Fookes, and Christchurch has a local morning show with Christopher Rupert Lynch.

Newstalk ZB operates one of the largest news operations in New Zealand, with over 50 newsreaders, reporters and editors nationwide. The network operates a news centre in Auckland, news hubs in Wellington, Christchurch and Parliament, and regional newsrooms in Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill. The network's talk radio format has rarely changed since 1987, and its predominantly white male line-up has been criticised for lacking gender and ethnic diversity, and contributing to an under-representation of women and Māori in the media.[1][2]

Most of Newstalk ZB's programming is produced in Auckland, in the NZME Radio building on the corner of Cook and Nelson Streets. According to Lonely Planet, the station provides a forum for "the most lively discussions on New Zealand issues".[3] Conspiracy theorists,[4] veganism advocates,[5] victims of sexual assault,[6] and housing activists have called talkback. Regular callers include an urban Māori man, a state housing beneficiary, a security guard, a Timaru pensioner, a West Coast grandmother, a dairy farmer, a Dutch butcher and several taxi drivers.[7]


  • History 1
    • ZB network (1926-1987) 1.1
    • New format and national roll-out (1987-1996) 1.2
    • Privatisation (1996-2002) 1.3
    • Ratings drop and Cheeky Darkie comment (2002-2009) 1.4
    • Restructure and Canterbury earthquake (2009-2011) 1.5
    • Ratings dip and controversies (2011-) 1.6
  • Programmes 2
    • Weekday breakfast 2.1
    • Weekday mornings 2.2
    • Weekday afternoons 2.3
    • Weeknights 2.4
    • Weekend breakfast 2.5
    • Weekend mornings 2.6
    • Weekend afternoon 2.7
    • Weekend nights 2.8
    • Holiday talkback 2.9
  • News 3
    • History 3.1
    • Affiliate Service 3.2
  • Stations 4
    • AM frequencies 4.1
    • FM frequencies 4.2
  • Other services 5
    • Timesaver Traffic 5.1
    • Promotions 5.2
    • Notices and cancellations 5.3
    • Website 5.4
  • References 6


ZB network (1926-1987)

The history of Newstalk ZB dates back to 1926 when Auckland station 1ZB was first started initially broadcasting on 1070AM, the station moved to 1080AM in 1978. The stations brand name was the stations call sign 1ZB. A ZB station was established in the four main centres of New Zealand as 1ZB Auckland, 2ZB Wellington, 3ZB Christchurch and 4ZB Dunedin. Up until 1987 the four ZB stations were music stations running a mixture of local and networked content. Each other individual station on the Newstalk ZB network has its own history with most stations starting out as a local AM radio run by Radio New Zealand.[8][9]

New format and national roll-out (1987-1996)

Newstalk ZB introduced this logo when it adopted its current talkback format in 1987.

In the mid 1980s, 1ZB Auckland lost a number of its key on-air personalities to privately owned Radio i, including Merv Smith who had hosted 1ZB's breakfast programme for over twenty years. The station's ratings subsequently plummeted as large amounts of listeners migrated to other stations. In 1987 a decision was made to re-launch 1ZB as a talkback station branded as Newstalk 1ZB. While the change was not popular initially the station showed growth by the end of the first year and by 1989 the breakfast show presented by Paul Holmes was the number one show in Auckland.[8][9] In February 1993, in Auckland, Newstalk 1ZB began broadcasting on 89.4 FM as well as the original 1080 AM when local station 89X (formerly 89FM) ceased to operate, Radio New Zealand purchased this station a year earlier and chose to close it down and use the frequency for Newstalk 1ZB. The current Newstalk ZB nationwide 0800 number (0800 80 10 80) actually comes from the original 1080AM frequency in Auckland that is still in use today.[8]

During the late eighties and early nineties Radio New Zealand switched many of their local heritage stations to FM but retained the AM frequency in each region running the same programme on both frequencies. Following the success of the talkback format in Auckland a decision was made to switch 2ZB Wellington and 3ZB Christchurch to a talkback format in 1991. At the same time new FM music stations were established in Wellington and Christchurch, these stations were B90 FM (Wellington) and B98 FM (Christchurch). In the early nineties many of the Radio New Zealand local stations that had switched to FM began running morning talkback shows on the AM frequency while continuing to play music on the FM frequency. In 1993 and 1994 the local Radio New Zealand station in some regions were rebranded with the Classic Hits name and the AM frequency was used to roll out the station across New Zealand, it was at this point Newstalk 1ZB was rebranded as Newstalk ZB. Initially those regions that ran local talkback shows on the AM frequency continued to do so and Wellington and Christchurch were initially local versions of Newstalk ZB.[8][9]

Privatisation (1996-2002)

In 1996 Radio New Zealand sold their commercial operation and Newstalk ZB, along with Classic Hits and ZM, became part of The Radio Network. In 2001 Newstalk ZB was further expanded into the smaller community markets in New Zealand. The smaller regions did not have their local stations rebranded as Classic Hits during the early nineties and many of these stations were still only broadcasting on AM frequencies. These stations were consolidated together in 1998 to become part of the Community Radio Network, in 2001 all Community Radio Network stations were rebranded as Classic Hits and at this point began broadcasting on FM if the station was already on FM leaving the AM frequency to now be used to broadcast Newstalk ZB. Today most Newstalk ZB stations run complete networked programming, however Wellington and Christchurch still have a local show in the mornings between 9 am and 12 pm.[8][9]

Ratings drop and Cheeky Darkie comment (2002-2009)

Newstalk ZB's Auckland audience dropped dramatically in 2002 as music radio stations became more popular, raising questions about the future viability of the network.[10] However, the station recover and retained the highest market share of any commercial station nationwide for several years.[11]

Paul Holmes caused controversy in September 2003, after he referred to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan a "cheeky darkiece". Holmes was labelled racist and faced pressure to resign. He issued two nationwide apologies, sent a letter of apology to Anna and met with members of the New Zealand Ghanaian community. The incident also affected his television show, which lost the sponsorship of Mitsubishi Motors.[12] The Radio Network took disciplinary action against him, put their staff through a training seminar on racism run by race relations commissioner Joris de Bres, and a $10,000 donation was made to Save the Children. The Broadcasting Standards Authority refused to uphold 10 complaints against Holmes for the complaint, leading one complainant to appeal the decision in the High Court. On the same breakfast show Holmes asked whether the female journalists were making journalism "ignorant and bitchy", particularly at certain times of the month. The authority found the comments were "insulting and inappropriate" but did not amount to denigrating and discriminating against women journalists.[13]

Race relations commissioner Joris de Bres received a record number of complaints about the issue, a record later broken by a racially polarising and profanity-laden letter written by

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The Newstalk ZB website combines on-demand content with breaking news coverage. The network's Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch streams are all available on the iHeartRadio website and app.[103] Newstalk ZB has been commended for including scientific content on-air, but criticised for the lack of science podcasts and audio content on its website.[104]


ZB stations have a long-running history of running notices for events and community groups. Cancellations for club and school sports events and recreation clubs have traditionally been broadcast every 30 minutes during breakfast in many markets.[101][102]

Notices and cancellations

Over several years, Newstalk ZB has given funding and support to Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, visiting international productions and local theatre companies.[98][99] It also supports the work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service operated by the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, primarily through advertising and awareness-raising.[100]

Newstalk ZB runs regular promotions for movie previews and local events.[93] The network has sponsored a range of events - from Variety, the Children's Charity special children's parties and food bank events, through to musical tours from bands like The Feelers.[94][95][96] Its on-air competitions include breakfast giveway campaigns like the ASB All I Want For Christmas contest.[97]


The traffic centre also records prerecorded weather updates for several stations, including Mix 98.2 and Radio Sport. Lorna Subritzky is ZB's breakfast traffic host, replacing former host Wendy Meyer.[92]

The Newstalk ZB Timesaver Traffic Centre produces and records traffic updates for all New Zealand Media and Entertainment stations. These updates for Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin air every 15 minutes during peak breakfast and drive timeslots, and hourly throughout the day and weekend on Newstalk ZB and The Hits.

Timesaver Traffic

Other services

FM frequencies

AM frequencies


On the internet, The Affiliates Unit also provides a continuously-updated wire service of text articles and streaming audio of Newstalk ZB's stories for websites such as XtraMSN, TelstraClear, NZ City and the New Zealand Rugby Union. It also supplies a news wire service to Prime TV, Sky TV, Sky News Australia and TVNZ.

The Newstalk ZB Affiliates Unit is based in the Auckland newsroom, and records a variety of hourly bulletins for other stations of NZME Radio and sells its bulletins to a number of external clients including Radio 1XX - One Double-X in Whakatane and the Eastern Bay Of Plenty. Lucy Walker presents these bulletins during weekday mornings. At all other times the main Newstalk ZB Network newsreader also records the Affiliates bulletins.

Affiliate Service

By 2000 a large number of radio stations had been taken over by RadioWorks, which did not want to pay for a news service operated by its main competitor and chose to start their own news service. After CanWest purchased RadioWorks the news service became known as the Global News Service (Global is the same name as Television network in Canada operated by CanWest), and in early 2005 it was again renamed to Radio Live News.[10] Similarly, IRN News later became Newstalk ZB News.

In 1996 Radio New Zealand sold their commercial operation and The Radio Network was formed, at the time The Radio Network purchased IRN. The Radio Network branded the news service on their own stations as Radio Network News while the news service continued to be called IRN on stations not owned by The Radio Network despite the news coming from the same place. Radio New Zealand continued to operate their own news service on Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert, the two non-commercial stations that were not sold.

Newstalk ZB News began as Independent Radio News, a news service played on most independently owned and operated radio stations in New Zealand during the 1980s and 1990s. The majority of New Zealand radio stations not owned by Radio New Zealand used this news and sport service usually followed by the station's own local news and weather forecast.


The news service covers a ride range of news stories, from industrial relations to prisoner rehabilitation.[88][89] It extensively covers crime and court proceedings, but was criticised for publishing a wire story about the verdict against lawyer Davina Murray in 2013.[90][91] Network weekday newsreaders include Bernadine Oliver-Kerby (Breakfast), Malcolm Jordan (Mornings), Niva Retimanu (Afternoons), and Kay Gregory (Evenings/Overnights). Weekend and fill-in newsreaders include Joe Gilfillan, Tim Dower, Bruce Russell, Lucy Walker, Eric Young, Freda Wylie, Josh White and Alistair Wilkinson. Sports newsreaders include Matt Brown, Rikki Swannell, Andrew Alderson, Brenton Vannissleroy, Guy Heveldt, Andy Rowe and Elliott Smith.

Newstalk ZB operates Newstalk ZB News from its Auckland news centre, producing live bulletins for the national ZB network. Welington and Christchurch both broadcast live local news bulletins during the breakfast show, Auckland has live local bulletins at 7.00am and 8.00am, and other stations carry network bulletins every half hour. Regional newsrooms previously provided each station with local news segments during the breakfast show. Newstalk ZB's pip sting, headlines segmented bulletin structure and "Keep up with Newstalk ZB" tagline were removed in December 2014, replaced with a single continuous bulletin, new theme music and "Now You're In the Now" tagline.[87]


On public holidays and during the Christmas and New Year holiday season, the Breakfast show airs 06.00am to 09.00am, a nationwide morning show airs 9.00am to 1.00pm, an afternoon talkback show airs 1.00pm to 6.00pm, and The Two airs 6.00pm to 12.00am. On Good Friday and Christmas Day the Christian Broadcasting Association air a special programme from 6.00am to 6.00pm, featuring children's music, Bible dramas, long-format interviews and other features. A 2013 Easter special on religious music in the film Les Misérables, entitled Les Misérables with Petra Bagust, was a finalist for Best Music Special at the New York Festivals World's Best Radio Programs awards. An hour-long 2013 Christmas-themed show, Newstalk BC, won gold for Best Director and Best Talk/Interview Special, silver for Best Performance by an Actor and Best Religious Program, and was a finalist for Best Drama Special, Best Editing and Best Entertainment Programme Production.[84] In 2015, CBA also won Best Documentary at the NZ Radio Awards[85] and two more Gold awards at the New York Festivals in the categories of Best Children/Young Adult Program for The Crazy Kiwi Christmas Kids Show and Best Writing for a new and improved version of Newstalk BC.[86]

Holiday talkback

  • On Saturday evenings, Bruce Russell hosts a music-and-memories show called In My Day from 6pm until midnight. Previously, Jim Sutton hosted Nostalgia, a show that showcased music from yesteryear, until Saturday 13 April 2013.
  • On Sunday evenings, a show hosted by Sam Bloore and Jax van Buuren, Total Recall, airs from 6pm to 7.30pm. This is followed by Real Life with John Cowan, in which John Cowan, Ian Grant or Frank Richie interviews a well-known or high-achieving person about their life. Past guests have included parenting experts and philanthropists.[82][83]
  • Tim Roxborogh and Tim Wilson host The Two from 8pm until 11pm. Former Sunday night hosts include Oliver Driver, Petra Bagust and Pat Brittenden.
  • Mike King's talkshow The Nutters Club airs from 11am Sunday to 1am on Monday.

Weekend nights

  • Tony Veitch presents Veitch on Sport, a combination of live sports updates and commentary and sports-related talkback. The programme, which is simulcast on Radio Sport, includes interviews with major New Zealand sports people. Wellington previously broke out for a local Scoreboard show hosted by Daniel McHardy, focussing on local sports issues like the Wellington Phoenix and local club sport updates. For over 40 years, Christchurch also broadcast a Scoreboard show for its region, hosted by Malcolm Ellis for over 15 years, however the Christchurch show was discontinued at the end of 2009 due to cost-cutting and now takes Veitch's show with local breakouts three times an hour Murray Deaker presented a show for the network on Sunday afternoons with a similar format, called Deaker on Sunday until his retirement on 22 December 2013. Willie Lose and Peter Montgomery also previously hosted Saturday afternoons.

Weekend afternoon

  • Jack Tame presents the Saturday Morning Programme between 9:00am and 12:00pm from a studio in New York. The show opens with an editorial by Tame about current affairs, followed by an editorial by former Fair Go host Kevin Milne about the media, politics and issues affecting his life.[72] Film reviewer Darren Bevan has a regular segment covering new releases, film festivals and film awards.[73] Mike Yardley hosts a regular travel segment, featuring a different destination each week.[74] Paul Holmes hosted the show from 2009 until he retired due to illness in late 2014.[75]
  • In Wellington, Justin du Fresne hosted local show 'The Great Weekender' until the end of 2013. Garry Ward hosted the show from the start of 1983, until his sudden death on 17 September 2009. Ward's 50-year career also included TV and radio commentary of the Commonwealth Games, Olympic Games, softball, soccer, judo, baseball, hockey and water polo. He had also worked for 14 years in newspapers, including 14 years as circulation manager for The Dominion.[76]
  • Andrew Dickens presents a similar programme called Andrew Dickens' Sunday Café, at the same time on Sunday morning, with interviews and sponsored regular guests segments. Dickens has a weekly radio documentary feature, branded as Dickens Around, in which he visits events, businesses and activities. The show was previously entitled 'Kerre's Cafe' when Kerre McIvor hosted the show.[77] The show includes a feature interview after 10.00am, with past guests including former politician Richard Prebble and activist Tama Iti.[78] Travel commentator Megan Singleton has a weekly segment, highlighting a different aspect of her travels.[79]
  • Carly Flynn hosts the morning show on long weekend Mondays and summer holiday weekends, with one-hour specialist talkback with home and garden experts, celebrity chefs, life coaches and legal experts.[80][81]

Weekend mornings

  • The All Sports Breakfast airs on Saturdays. It includes a Garage Sale segment for the first half hour, and local sport, sports panels, and interviews with athletes and sports journalists. The Auckland version with Nigel Yalden, the Christchurch version is hosted by Lesley Murdoch and Craig Kerr, and Wellington and Dunedin have their own versions.
  • The Resident Builder with Pete Wolfkamp airs on Sunday mornings. The two-hour-long DIY talkback programme was hosted by Ruud Kleinpaste. Kleinpaste and experts on real estate and insurance are regular guests.[71]
  • The Sports Power Hour with Daniel McCardy also airs on Sunday mornings. It features commentary on weekend sport from McCardy and others.

Weekend breakfast

  • Talk Sport with Mark Watson airs on weekday evenings. The hour of sports-related talkback and interviews is simulcast live on Radio Sport. It was previously hosted by Murray Deaker, Peter Montgomery, Willie Lose and Tony Veitch.
  • The Kerre McIvor Show with Kerre McIvor (née Woodham) features news talkback and live breaking news. Substitute hosts include Andrew Dickens and Tim Roxborogh.[68]
  • The Two is hosted by Tim Roxborogh and Tim Wilson, and airs on Friday and Sunday nights. It was previously hosted by Roxborough and Pam Corkery. Overnight host Bruce Russell previously hosted both Friday nights and summer nights, but was removed from the timeslots in January 2013 over comments he made about Seven Sharp hosts Ali Mau and Jesse Mulligan. Russell asked if was it was "okay for this programme to be populated by a dyke and a clown", referring to Mau's homosexuality and Mulligan's comedy career. The comments were criticised by talkback callers and on Twitter. Russell apologised a few hours later, and Newstalk ZB apologised the following day.[69] Russell had previously been criticised for allegedly allowing racist callers and making generalisations about Māori people.[70]
  • Overnight Talkback features talkback on current affairs, music and hourly news, sports and weather updates. It is hosted by Bruce Russell on Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings; Tim Roxborogh on Wednesday, Thursday and Tim Beveridge on Saturdays; and Gary Denvir on Sunday. Substitute hosts include Peter Wolfkamp and Tim Dower. Previous hosts included Alf Rose, John Peachey, Noelle McCarthy, James King, Nick Robinson and Pat Brittenden.[69]


  • Larry Williams Drive features live crosses to reporters, political commentary and quickfire news talkback. The first hour includes interviews with newsmakers, political editor Barry Soper, financial analysts, overseas correspondents and sports journalists. The second hour includes interviews with newsmakers and experts, and a topical panel discussion with commentators like David Farrar, Tim Watkin and Cameron Slater.[61][62][63][64] Business and finance experts like Cameron Fisher, Fran O'Sullivan and Rob Hosking appear in the final hour of the programme.[65] Susan Wood, Greg Boyed and Tim Dower serve as the programme's substitute hosts.[66] Williams has been described as "short on humour, long on suspicion" - as someone who "seethes and snarls" and feels "personally affronted" by the news stories he covers.[67] He has remained in the drive-time position consistently since 1987, appealing directly to peak-hour commuters. The show includes 15-minute news updates, hourly news and sports bulletins, and regular editorials. It has also featured many on-air arguments - during the Blackheart campaign for Team New Zealand, for example, he often argued with fellow host Murray Deaker.[67]
Blogger David Farrar is a regular commentator on the drive programme.
  • The Farming Show is a Dunedin-based farming talk programme broadcast on Newstalk ZB in Alexandra, Gisborne, Oamaru, Queenstown, Tokoroa, Wairarapa and Wanaka. The programme is simulcast on Hokonui and selected stations of Radio Sport.
  • The Danny Watson Show is Newstalk ZB's afternoon open-line talkback programme, drawing on a range of other careers and broadcasting roles. Described by NZ On Screen as a "vocational chameleon", Watson began his broadcasting career on children's show Spot On alongside The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. He also hosted children's show What Now?, magazine show Danny's Cafe and a local version of prank show Candid Camera before replacing Chris Carter in the afternoon slot.[52] He has put his long tenure in talkback down to loving people and being addicted to hearing their stories.[53][54] The programme includes regular special interest discussions with specialist journalists and contributors. On Mondays the programme features personal trainer Claire Turnball and a series of health guests.[55][56] On Tuesday afternoons Watson highlights new products, innovations or ideas - from conservation board games to flat-footed ballet shoes.[57][58] He also co-hosts a segment Tech Tuesday with technology experts and a range of specialist guests.[59] On other days Watson features long-form talkback with a range of experts, such as representatives of community and justice groups.[60]

Weekday afternoons

  • The Leighton Smith Show with Leighton Smith is Newstalk ZB's morning talkback programme. The show includes a mix of talkback on topical issues and interviews with experts and newsmakers.[44] It also includes a weekly paid segment with Investigate editor, author and publisher Ian Wishart. Wishart uses it to express conservative views on issues like Māori-Pakeha relations, climate change and economics, and alternative views on criminal cases and Vitamin D.[45] Smith has been criticised for his climate change scepticism, for giving too much airtime to sceptics like Christopher Monkton, and for not including scientists who accept anthropomorphic climate change.[46]
  • The Tim Fookes Show is Newstalk ZB's Wellington morning programme. The show includes interviews with newsmakers and Wellington councillors, reviews with local expert commentators, and regular panel discussions with politicians and political commentators.[47][48][49] Sean Plunket hosted the show from late 2010 to late 2012, while also presenting TV3's The Nation political programme, working as a media trainer and writing for Metro Magazine. His appointment followed a 13-year career as co-host of Radio New Zealand National's Morning Report, and his legal challenge to Radio New Zealand's ban on news staff having other jobs.[50]
  • The Chris Lynch Show is Newstalk ZB's Christchurch morning programme. The Christchurch show, then hosted by Ali Jones, was dropped at the end of 2009 and replaced with the network show. After much complaint from listeners and a major drop in listeners The Radio Network decided to bring back a local show to Christchurch in mid-2010. The new show was initially hosted by Mike Yardley who had hosted the same show on the station in the past, but he left in November 2012 and was replaced by former TVNZ Close Up producer Chris Lynch in January 2013.[51]

Weekday mornings

  • The KPMG Early Edition is hosted by journalist Rachel Smalley. The early morning programme includes interviews with international and national news interviews, overseas correspondents and business commentators, from regular interviews with Bill English and Andrew Little to one-off interviews with experts in their field.[38][39] There are also live crosses to chief reporters in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.[40] Andrew Dickens or Tim Dower serve as fill-in hosts.[41][42]
  • The Mike Hosking Breakfast with Mike Hosking is a 150-minute news programme featuring interviews, correspondents, conversations, commentaries and quickfire talkback on the issues and business developments of the day. Separate half-hourly news bulletins, sports highlights, traffic updates and weather forecasts are broadcast for Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and the nationwide ZB network, alongside headlines at quarter past and quarter to the hour. Jack Tame, Susan Wood and Larry Williams are the show's substitute hosts, and Tim Dower presents a 180-minute version of the show on summer and public holidays. Hosking became host in 2009, replacing Paul Holmes who had presented the show since 1987. A Christchurch version of the show, hosted by John Dunne and Ken Ellis, also aired from 1987 to 2008, while a Wellington version, presented by Lindsay Yeo, aired from 1987 to 1996.[43]
Bill English is a regular guest on Early Edition.

Weekday breakfast


The Broadcasting Standards Authority upheld a complaint about an editorial on the Israeli shelling of UNRWA Gaza shelters during the Israel-Gaza conflict. The authority found the programme had overstated the number of people killed in the bombing of the Rafah Preparatory A Boys School and had wrongly condemned Israel of targeting civilians and killing every civilian inside. Newstalk ZB argued the number of fatalities was irrelevant to the broader point, but the authority said the right to express opinions in editorials did not justify factually inaccurate and misleading statements.[37]

Blogger Cameron Slater has been a regular commentator on the drive programme for several years, and has been both critical and supportive of the station's positions in the past.[30][31][32] In 2013, the Broadcasting Standards Authority rejected complaints against Slater over his suggestions that openly-gay Labour MP Grant Robertson "enjoys being stabbed from behind" - and Newstalk ZB defended what they argued was "robust, irreverent, edgy" debate.[33] In 2014, he participated in a series of one-hour pre-election panel discussions on the drive programme. He retained the position following the release of Nicky Hager book Dirty Politics. However, left-wing commentators calling for him to be taken off-air or resign.[34][35][36]

Host Rachel Smalley apologised in April 2014 after describing New Zealand women over 72 kilograms as "heifers" and a "bunch of lardos" during an ad break when she believed her microphone was off. The comments was reported and criticised in several local and international media outlets, including and the Daily Mail.[24][25][26][27] In a tearful apology the following morning, she described her comments as deeply offensive, stupid and judgemental and said she deeply regretted her choice of words.[28] The Broadcasting Standards Authority rejected complaints against the comments, saying they were neither calculated nor deliberate.[29]

The TNS T2 2013 commercial radio survey showed the network had 11.4% of audiences aged over 10, and had the most listened-to breakfast show in the country. It came as Rachel Smalley became host of the newly created Early Edition programme.[11] The same survey in 2014 showed Newstalk ZB lost 0.3% market share but gained 7600 listeners during a time when other NZME radio stations were in decline.[22] It has also been observed that ZB and Mai FM are the only stations that can be received by car radios in used imported cars from Japan — of which New Zealand is a large market — due to the Japanese FM band spanning 76-90 MHz instead of the standard 88-108 MHz band.[23]

Ratings dip and controversies (2011-)

The local morning show remained on the air but was broadcast from a temporary location. Following the first earthquake this was at the Whitebait Studios in Christchurch, and following the February earthquake in February it was a hotel in Christchurch. The Radio Network Christchurch never returned to their Worcester Street premises and eventually set up in a new location. The building was taken down in August 2012, in New Zealand's first ever controlled building demolition with explosives.[21]

Following the Christchurch earthquake on 4 September 2010 and the major aftershock on 22 February 2011 programming in Christchurch was greatly affected. After both earthquakes the station broadcast in place of other radio stations in Christchurch operated by The Radio Network, the local studios located in Worcester Street in Christchurch were evacuated. Local news services in Christchurch were replaced temporarily with the network news feed which mostly contained news stories related to the quake heard by all of New Zealand. Local news readers reported news about the quake for all of New Zealand.[21]

The network went through a process of restructuring during the Global Financial Crisis, removing one reporter position in the Parliamentary press gallery, one position in Wellington, one position in Auckland, and five reporting, hosting and producing roles in Christchurch.[19] The Christchurch local news and sport bulletins and local morning show were later reintroduced, with NZME investing $7.8 million for a 17-year license for its 100.1 FM Christchurch frequency.[20][21]

The Christchurch Newstalk ZB building was imploded after it sustained major damage in the 2012 earthquake.

Restructure and Canterbury earthquake (2009-2011)

Artist Ralph Hotere responded to Holmes' "cheeky darky" comment with a series of artworks. One, White Drip to Mister Paul Holmes, was a 2.7 metre long piece of corrugated iron painted in black, with a drip of white paint extending nearly the full length of the work. ‘To Mister Paul Holmes’ is stenciled on the top of the piece, which is now one of his signature works.[15] Holmes was apologetic and regretful about using the phrase, but later argued there was a fine line between humour and offense.[16] The phrase featured on a commemorative tea towel,[17] and fellow broadcaster John Hawkesby remembered Holmes as a "cheeky little whitey" at his funeral in 2013.[18]


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