As someone who’s sat in a talkback studio, waiting for the lights to blink to indicate a caller wants to fill a few minutes with something other than my increasingly desperate blathering, I know exactly what it’s like to be Willie Jackson or John Tamihere. They, at least, have one another to talk to if those lights steadfastly refuse to illuminate. When you’re in the studio on your own, the phrase “dead air” seems palpably real. You stare at the microphone that stares back, sightlessly accusing you of not being interesting enough to provoke Fred in Takapuna to press a few digits on his phone rather than jump online and comment on that damned upstart Slater’s blog.
You’re constantly walking a fine line between stirring up the audience sufficiently to get prompt them to call, and not making an ass of yourself by saying something clearly calculated just to cause outrage, though increasingly – and especially on Radio Live – the latter tactic seems to be not just accepted but encouraged. How else to explain hour after hour, day after day, of Michael Laws’ entirely predictable and by now well canvassed opinions that the poor, the infirm, the mentally fragile and of course “fat brown slugs” are responsible for any plight in which they may find themselves?
Anyway, back to “Willie and JT”, as they seem to want to be known. I don’t believe their now infamous interview with the victim of “Roast Busters” was a premeditated attempt at attracting attention to their show – though goodness knows they and everyone else could do with some, as their lacklustre ratings clearly illustrate – which only makes what transpired worse. Read more »