Publication:

Nelson Mail - 2021-11-26

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MediaWorks unveils plans for talkback

Business

Glenn McConnell

Dallas Gurney, the former Newstalk ZB boss who is now crafting its newest challenger, calls New Zealand ‘‘Aotearoa’’ and talks about ‘‘modern perspectives’’. He has been tasked with creating a brand-new news and talk radio station, after MediaWorks’ new boss, Cam Wallace, effectively mothballed Magic Talk. The station was mainly known for its provocative daytime hosts Sean Plunket and Peter Williams, broadcasting veterans who rallied against ‘‘cancel culture’’, and were accused of allowing blatant racism and misinformation on air. Yesterday, MediaWorks confirmed its weekday line-up for the new talk station and its name – Today FM. A list of younger and well-known broadcasters have been confirmed for the station, led by current Newshub political editor Tova O’Brien. O’Brien will take the breakfast show, following from First Light with Rachel Smalley. Former political editor and AM Show host Duncan Garner is on 9am to midday, passing the baton to Leah Panapa and his former co-host, Mark Richardson, at midday. Lloyd Burr will pick up the reins for the drive show, with former ZM and Hits host Polly Gillespie in the evenings. On top of that, Gurney said MediaWorks was hiring up to 25 reporters to form the start of its newsroom after separating from Newshub. Previously, Magic Talk and its presenters operated at distance from reporters. Gurney said that must change. ‘‘News is news. You must start with the facts,’’ he said. ‘‘There is a place for objectivity.’’ The new team of reporters would work with presenters to break stories on air. The other big change would be in the tone and focus of discussion, Gurney said. Where Magic Talk had excelled in provocation, he said those days were over. ‘‘If we are going to be successful in talk radio, we can’t just copy what the opposition is doing and expect a different result from what we have had for the last 15 years.’’ He said the main difference between Today FM and Newstalk ZB would be the more solutionsfocused discussions on Today FM, compared with what he described as ‘‘just provoking audience reactions’’. He promised ‘‘a modern perspective on New Zealand’’. ‘‘A place we can talk about potential solutions to problems, without clobbering each other over the head all the time. There has got to be a home for fair, objective, balanced and dare I say it, a positive outlook on our future.’’ And he said Today FM would be firmly focused on ‘‘the centre’’, rather than Left or Right. The station would launch in the first quarter of next year but an exact date was yet to be set.

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