Guyon Espiner leaving Morning Report

One can always quibble about political interviews, but I think generally Guyon Espiner on RNZ’s Morning Report has been one of the better interviewers – well prepared and as persistent as is possible with politicians trying to avoid giving straight or relevant answers.

This is Espiner’s last day on Morning Report (he is moving to another job in RNZ). Newsroom interviewed him about hos tenure – Guyon Espiner: What I won’t apologise for

… there are two major things people have complained about over the past five years and I am not sorry for either of them. I am not sorry for speaking te reo Māori on the radio and I am not sorry about interrupting politicians.

You might remember the backlash when about two years ago I started to use more te reo Māori on Morning Report. The messages streamed in. Diatribe, gibberish and rubbish were some of the less offensive descriptions. Listeners invited me on a daily basis to leave to a ‘Māori station’ and one texted to ask “when are you going to get a grass skirt and put shoe polish on your face”.

For a Pākehā from a privileged background it was a small insight into racism in New Zealand, a tiny sliver of what some people must put up with every day.

But slowly that receded and now the main complaint I get is that I speak te reo Māori too quickly. Slow down. We want to learn, they say. So thank you for that too.

While I had thousands of complaints from Pākehā, I’m not aware of one complaint from Māori. Not one. So to other Pākehā worried about how they’ll be received for using te reo Māori: from my experience, if you put the work in you will be rewarded and embraced. Karawhiua e hoa mā.

I find the use of te reo on RNZ (by Espiner and others) a bit of a distraction, and I largely ignore it, but I understand the importance of it to others. Our national broadcaster should cater for everyone.

The other thing I am not sorry for is interrupting politicians. I know some of you swear at the radio and have even thrown things. Admit it.

I’ll make a deal with you. The day politicians give straight answers to legitimate questions I’ll hear them out and move on to the next question. Until then, they need to be dragged back on track or they’ll just read out the talking points in a non-answer to a question you never asked. They will run down the clock until they are saved by the pips.

Getting decent answers out of politicians trained and practiced in avoiding answering questions, and diverting to spouting their own parrot points, is a very difficult task, but interviewers should persist, as Espiner has done.

What is he going to do now?

The satisfaction I got from doing The 9th Floor series of interviews with former prime ministers came to mind (yes I was probably the only person in the ward thinking about Mike Moore and Geoffrey Palmer at 2am). I want to get back to long form and investigative journalism.

I’m staying at RNZ so you can judge here on the website and on the radio whether I’ve been successful or not.

I think he has been successful on Morning Report, and I’m sure he will do a good job with whatever he does at RNZ from next week.

Ardern on ‘affordable housing’

Jacinda Ardern has been interviewed by Guyon Espiner on RNZ’s Morning Report on so-called affordable housing.

“This is still a price point significantly lower than what people are paying at market rates,” tells . The govt has raised its ‘affordable’ AKL price point from $600k to $650k.

Is $650,000 ‘affordable’ for an Auckland house? “For too many people it won’t be”.

“This is still a price point significantly lower than what people are paying at market rates.

“I would rather try than do nothing at all.” discusses what is ‘affordable’ for a house in AKL.

“We’re still doing policy work [on immigration fixes]. Making sure we have best export education system we can,” & also other changes in ensuring tests meet labour needs.

They keep missing what i think is an important point.

In the past most first home buyers started with older cheaper houses. Some people then go on to build new houses.

I’ve (part) owned seven houses and none of them have been new. I bought what i could afford at the time (sometimes barely afford). I don’t feel deprived.

RNZ beats commercial radio

The biggest surprise for me in this story is that Radio NZ (the now like to be called RNZ) hasn’t been included in ratings done for commercial radio before.

This makes some of Stuff’s stuff a bit strange in Bloody marvellous! John Campbell and Morning Report lead RNZ to a ratings resurgence

The “king of breakfast radio” Mike Hosking has been dethroned by state broadcaster RNZ’sMorning Report programme.

RNZ has attracted the highest national audience against commercial radio news rivals in all key time slots, results from a survey released this week show.

It was the first time in 17 years RNZ has been included in a radio survey with its commercial competitors.

How can they (Stuff) claim ‘a resurgence’ and that Hosking is ‘dethroned’ when there was no previous comparison?

Regardless of that, the survey GfK survey (conducted over 18 weeks and sampled nearly 11,00 people aged 10 years and over) shows that RNZ is a major player on the pictureless airwaves.

Total New Zealand Commercial Radio Audience Measurement

For the first time a Commercial Radio Audience Measurement Survey has been conducted across the whole of New Zealand, giving valuable insights into the strength and scope of commercial radio listening across the country. The survey was conducted over 18 weeks and sampled 10,863 people aged 10+.

Department of Statistics estimated population data at 30 June 2015 indicates approximately 4,010,000 people aged 10+ years live in New Zealand. The Total New Zealand Commercial Radio Audience Measurement Survey shows over 3,134,000 or 78.2% of them listen to a commercial radio station each week.

The survey showed:

  • RNZ’s Morning Report programme, hosted by former TV personality Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson from 6am-9am, had about 386,000 listeners.
  • Mike Hosking Breakfast, which runs from 6am to 8.30am, was ‘a distant second’ to Morning Report.

(In May, Newstalk ZB reported that Mike Hosking was the “king of breakfast radio” with 265,000 listeners).

  • RNZ shows Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan, Jesse Mulligan in afternoons and Checkpoint with John Campbell were all leading their time slots against rival stations.
  • The Edge was the top ranked station nationwide with 663,000 listeners each week followed by RNZ with 529,000 listeners. Newstalk ZB was close behind with 504,000 listeners.

So RNZ appears to be working and providing something that many people make use of.

I think that an alternative to commercial radio is worthwhile and adds something different to the radio mix.

Espiner, abuse and imperiling democracy

There’s been an interesting debate at The Pundit on a post by Josie Pagani which relates to Martyn Bradbury attacking the appointment of Guyon Espiner to Morning Report. Bradbury included Josie Pagani in his hissy fit Espiner, Hosking & Paul Henry – the 3 Broadcasters of the Apocalypse.

He has some support from Stuart Munro commenting at The Pundit:

Martyn’s concern about Espiner is not misplaced – unless he radically lifts his game it will erode what was customarily a fairly high standard at National Radio.

For some roles it wouldn’t matter, but for the routine grilling of the most disingenuous people in New Zealand, politicians, to send in the muppets is to imperil democracy.

At best Martyn’s concern is premature and excessive. And out of step with the majority reaction I’ve seen that applauds Guyon’s appointment. In contrast I’ve seen just a few who have reacted “he’s not one of us so he is enemy” – and referring to Guyon as a muppet who will “imperil democracy”.

This relates back to Josie’s main point, that The left must stand up to abuse.

There is something wrong with a version of the left that despises people.But what Martyn Bradbury and the demonisers are attempting is
ex-communication. Their conduct is anti-ideas because, confronted with
someone who has a different idea, they don’t engage. They vilify.

That’s true (and of some on the right as well, it hapens daily on Kiwiblog as it does at The Standard). It seems to be a symptom of political frustration, if they can’t get someone to agree, if they disagree – or don’t get appointments of people who seem agreeable – they attack and vilify, and try to shout down or shut down.

This friend/enemy approach must be counterproductive but if you point that out you get attacked as well, accused of being the vilifier.

I think abusive politics does far more to imperil our democracy than the appointment of one widely respected journalist to one job in one media outlet