I love Radio New Zealand

I’ve always thought those ‘I (heart) NZ’ genre of tee-shirts were olympically lame. They made me want to buy a tee shirt that said ‘I ( picture of psychopath stabbing randomly) jetskis’ or ‘I ( stick figure throwing up) Nigella Lawson’s cupcakes. But it’s very unfashionable to be so negative so I never really got round to either buying or manufacturing them. Lately however I’ve wanted a tee-shirt that says ‘I (stick figure radiating hearts) Radio New Zealand. Because I do. In the words of those great 20th century poets ABBA, “I do I do I do I do I do.” One of the great joys of my present job, despite its inherent mundane nature is that I get to listen to Radio New Zealand for the whole day without any ad breaks. I am never told what to buy or what to wear, never told it’s not ok or not to shake my baby and never advised to go for a cervical smear test.

Unlike TV news or most of the print media offered up for consumption in this country, I can rest safe in the knowledge that none of the economic forecasting or commentary will ever come from any real estate organisations. Neither will I be made dizzy from the media loop the loop which is a mainstay of kiwi print and television journalism whereby newsreaders veer off the rails of reasonable newsworthiness and go careering off creating their own personal relationship train wrecks and then get their other newsreader friends to comment on them, or be outraged that other news organisations got there first. I can feel reassured that if Sean Plunket ever decides to go upmarket and become a lesbian and date a pole dancer from Huapai that R N Z will never feel the need to let me know. It may sound mean but I really don’t care what interchangeably blonde newsreader does or even thinks about anything .. simply because it’s just not news. I love Radio New Zealand precisely because they actually have the resources to go and pay for the answers to the questions they/we want answered through the official information act and the time to follow long running issues – the boring yet vital spade work of attending hearings and parliamentary debates to track politicians’ real form rather than the 5 minute sound bites we get of what may be just politically expedient at the time. They have the skills and the people to do all the tedious groundwork that real journalism used to be about. Saturday mornings without Kim Hill is as the Russians say ‘an egg without salt’ or a ‘kiss without a moustache’ a meaningless meander towards Sunday. Kim Hill still actually reads books and understands them – thereby doing all the hard work so her listeners can follow the most fascinating of discussions on everything from meta-physics to the architectural reasons why there are so many conspiracy theories about the twin towers – and still feel like you’re having fun. She’s the braining up when other news media is dumbing down so fast that listening to it feels like being locked in an elevator with Paul Henry and Susana Paul after all the cables have been cut.

If Radio New Zealand were a species in this political climate– it would be a Black Stilt or a Chatham Island’s petrel. Extremely rare and under extreme pressure from destruction of habitat.

Jonathon Coleman – the minister of Broadcasting in a peculiarly mustelid like speech, announced a few days ago that RNZ really needs to get jiggy with it and think of some cool funky ways to come up with some more cash. Like sponsorship. I can see that working. ‘Saturday morning with Kim Hill and Durex – Protecting Plonkers Like You!’ I’m sure she’d be up for it. He wanted to know what an organisation that costs $38 million a year to fund should look like. If it were in any other country it would look like a ford cortina after the cousins have borrowed it for a road trip up North. Instead it’s still cruising like an old Benz. Before Mr. Coleman starts taking the wheels off and flogging the hubcaps I’d just like to say – mate: as the last bastion of decent independent ad free news in this country – it’s cheap at twice the price.

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