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Life’s a breeze


Hilary Muir breezes into our interview. Bright, bubbly and full of life; just as she sounds on her morning radio shows. By the time we meet, she’s already done her early morning start at The Breeze, and most of a full day, yet the enthusiasm hasn’t dimmed.

 

 

Enthusiasm for people, for life and for causes are what keep Hilary on the go. She’s always been a people person and her various roles reflect that.

Breakfast show presenter, popular MC, marriage celebrant, funeral celebrant, mother, friend and confidante. And she loves a good anecdotal story.

Those who tune into her show regularly know all this, enjoying the banter between Hilary and co-host Fitzy (Dave Fitzgerald) and their choice of topics. She adores radio and its people dynamic.

“I wake up in the morning, bounce out of bed and make the most of the day. I love people, company and radio.”

Thirty-seven years’ radio experience hasn’t dimmed her joie de vie; she’s still eager to hit the airwaves each morning, seeing every day as an opportunity to bring to life on radio the lives of Cantabrians.

“There’s so much choice whether it is people or topics. Whatever we talk about is relatable to our listeners.”

Originally from the deep south – Invercargill and then Dunedin – Hilary has been with The Breeze since its inception two decades ago this year. She has always worked in radio – 15 years in Dunedin, including seven years also reading news on Regional television, two of which were with Jim Mora, and a parenting programme on TV called Parent Time.

“I’ve always worked with male DJs; it’s an awesome contrast,” she explains, naming James Daniels and latterly Fitzy as her most recent co-hosts.

Christchurch stole her heart several years ago and for Hilary it is home. “It’s such an evolving place; I really love the people. They have so many stories to tell and some have been through so much, yet they still stand strong and proud of their city. There’s a real courage amongst the people here.”

Work hard but take time out to relax is part of her personal ethos.

Time out is spent relaxing with family and friends, and holidaying in her regular go-to destination of Kaiteriteri in Nelson Tasman.

For the last 20 years she has spent summer holidays staying at the same bach and loving its simplicity.

“No dishwasher, no wifi, everyone takes their own linen and it’s so close to Breakers Beach. A perfect holiday bach.”

Then it’s back to Christchurch, swapping ocean waves for radio waves, and the beach for The Breeze.


 

Jay-Jay Feeney: Off The Cuff


You can tell a natural-born performer by how an interview request is met; the plan-ahead type introverts want emailed questions, sometimes even to answer via email. Jay-Jay Feeney, on the other hand, is completely comfortable with ‘off the cuff’; live radio Monday to Friday will do that to you. So too will a life in the limelight.

It’s a life the 91 MORE FM host has craved since the age of nine. “I used to listen to the radio as a kid and just loved it! I had absolutely no idea how to actually get on the radio,” she laughs. “But I would spend hours making my own radio shows at home.”

It was at the age of 15 when the dream began to materialise in the form of work experience at New Plymouth’s Energy FM.

This would be the time in the story to add, ‘and the rest is history’, but then that would seriously sell short the incredible career Jay-Jay has been able to craft for herself – one that has seen her meet Pink five times, hang out with Tom Cruise in his personal trailer and get awarded for her Outstanding Contribution to Radio at the Radio Awards in 2018 (even if she was in the toilet when her name was called!), to name just a few of her professional accomplishments.

But it’s the station’s annual Jingle Bail – which saw her and co-host Flynny locked up in a 5x5m ‘jail cell’ for five days – that she is most proud of; an annual pilgrimage which raised $158,661 for Koru Care NZ and sent 39 Kiwi kids on a plane to the Gold Coast in its 2019 incarnation.

“It’s such a fun week; exhausting as hell, but so rewarding!”

Open and honest by nature, Jay-Jay’s always found it easy to talk – even about the difficult stuff. “I love connecting with people,” she says.

“We’re so lucky in radio that we get to do that, more so than any other medium. That’s why I do it, whether I make someone laugh, cry or just relate!”

Over the years she’s shared the love (former co-host Dom Harvey), the heartache (their infertility struggles) and the pain (their marriage break up and her mental health struggles); you could say she wrote the book on it – which she did in 2013 with Misconception, about her battle for a baby.

“It was real, it was honest, I knew only people who needed it would read it, so it wasn’t for a mass audience,” she says.

But it also came with its pitfalls.

“Once you do talk about something like that, you do become the poster person for it and that’s quite draining; the same happened with talking about depression.

People will say ‘thanks so much for talking about it and opening up’ but then they want to tell me their heart-breaking stories and ask what they should do.

“I’m not the expert; I’ll share my story, but I can’t help you work out what to do.”

She’s sharing the love again, this time with her off-shore Algerian beau, Minou, who she has spent a summer of love with, travelling the length and breadth of the country.

“It’s been really cool travelling around New Zealand and seeing the country through a tourist’s eye,” says Jay-Jay, who admits she hasn’t seen as much of her own country before – like many of us!

“Everyone needs a foreigner to visit,” she laughs.

The couple checked out Te Anau and the Milford Sounds; they experienced the Māori culture at Te Puia in Rotorua; they went jetboating in Taupo; then there was kayaking, glow worms and hotpools in the mix.

“The hardest part is he gets four weeks of holidays a year – and he’s just used them! So he can’t go anywhere.”

So she’s applying for a visa to head to Algeria herself in the next couple of months and while she’s confident her boss will give her two weeks, she’s going to beg him for three!

In the meantime, she’s planning on working hard and looking after herself.

“Those three things will make me very happy – having a great time with work, looking after my mental health and love!”


 

Energising the airwaves


Mike Puru energisers the airwaves along with Anika Moa and Stacey Morrison on The Hits Drive show from 3 to 7pm. After a decade at The Edge and as TV host for the first two seasons of The Bachelor, he’s the personality from Southland who has won hearts nationwide.

 

 


So how much fun is it sharing the studio with two of the coolest chicks in showbiz? What a trio!

It’s a great combo – two very special women who have the biggest hearts but also the best humour.

They are both admired in the specialty fields and maintain family life but are always keen to share experiences and laughs.

I’m always learning Māori and what it’s like to have kids, so I just add my yarns and experience and it makes me laugh every day.


What are a couple of awesome/weird/profound moments?

We all, quite often, sing along to the songs and every now and then Stace and I look up at Anika and think ‘wow you are amazing’.

We forget she is actually one of New Zealand’s best singers.

The other profound moment is the realisation of our backgrounds – all very similar upbringings and somewhat weird we all ended up together!


You hosted for the first two seasons of the Bachelor. So, The Bachelorette 2020 – wish you were there and what do you think of it?

Where to start? First of all I think the Bachelorette is brilliant; I would hate being a single straight male dating, so I’m finding it hilarious watching these guys.

Secondly it’s much better just watching it on TV – the problem you have with hosting is you know what happens before it airs and it’s hard to keep your mouth shut until it airs.

And thirdly, I think Art is great at presenting – although I miss being part of something so huge on TV.

I’ve been there, done that and quite happy to be a watcher… PS, it is all real – I used to get asked so many times but I can assure you what you see it what happened!


TV or radio – differences for you?

Someone once told me ‘radio pays ya mortgage, TV pays for ya holidays’ – and that was great advice!

TV is so fickle and short-lived.

I was out of full-time work for a few years constantly freelancing in many areas, but I loved the move back to full time radio as there’s something special about being live each day and having your listeners become part of your extended family.

TV is great fun, but changing fast; radio has stood the test of time and I love it.


Do you get to your hometown of Gore often? Is Southland still stuck in your soul?

Love Gore! It was big enough to have opportunities but small enough to not have to compete for jobs and experiences.

I host the Gold Guitars each year and love catching up with family as well as being part of something that is part of Gore’s history – I owe Gore a lot so it holds a special place in my heart.


What’s life at the moment for you when you’re off the air – what gobbles up your leisure time?

Radio demands mean you are constantly looking for material so it never really ends but you need to live life to experience that so I mainly just hang with my partner and dog at home doing house things – I’ve found mowing lawns and cleaning quite therapeutic.

We try often to sponge off our mates who have holiday homes; Auckland is a great region for weekend getaways so we try to do that as often as we can.


Dreams (big and small) for this year/decade?

I’d love for our radio show to become of the “must listen“ shows in the afternoon and I would also love to get back to France where my partner is from – his family and the region (Southwest France) is amazing and I can’t wait to get back …

so please tune in and give the gayest, brownest family-friendly entertaining show on radio a go so I can earn enough money to get back to France.


 

A Talented Trio


Jono, Ben and Sharyn had quite the award haul at this year’s New Zealand Radio Awards late last month, winning Best Music Non-Breakfast Team and taking out the Blackie Award with Producer Dan for their ‘Deadpool Marathon’. We caught up with this talented trio about their third year of livening up the radio waves in the afternoons.

 

 

 

First of all, congratulations on your award haul at the Radio Awards!
Jono: Thank you. Ben has some very incriminating photos of the judges and it finally paid off!


How exciting was that for you?
Sharyn: It was really exciting for me because I had never won an award! I had been nominated every year for 13 years and never, ever won. Jono and Ben already had heaps of them so it might not have been as exciting for them.


How cool is it to get to hang out together for a day job?
Jono: It’s a pretty sweet gig. Sometimes you have to really check yourself when you’re having a bad day and remember I’m getting paid to do the sweetest job in the world, which is talk s**t into a microphone. It’s a dream job.


Do you consider your radio trio to be more friends or family?
Jono: Fremily; a family of friends. You’re kinda locked in a room together for four hours a day, and that’s not including the time you spend before the show preparing, so you celebrate the good times, you cry over the bad times, so it is more like a family I’d say. By the way, Sharyn’s pregnant too, to make it a real family (joking!).
Sharyn: Oh my god, don’t say that! I’d definitely say it’s more like a family. Doing a radio show with someone is such a weird relationship because it’s almost like you’re married, but there’s no sexy finale.
Ben: And Jono doesn’t do any cooking!
Sharyn: But you still have to communicate in the same way and look after your friendship and things like that and if anything ever happened to any of these guys, we’d cook for their families and stuff.
Ben: At the same time we’re the first to mock each other for everything else. We know each other so well now, we know what buttons to push to not offend but to have a bit of fun.


What have been some of your standout moments on the radio?
Ben: The one that jumps out at me is when these guys blindfolded me and took me to Sydney and I had no idea what the surprise was going to be. All that ran through my head all day as I sat there with a blindfold and headphones on was that it’s going to be something with snakes or sharks or something horrible, but it turns out I was sitting in a room with one of my favourite comedians, Kevin Hart, so that was pretty cool.
Sharyn: For me, it’s that our show is not afraid to talk about things that matter and things that are important, even if it’s things that are hard for us to talk about. We’ve talked about some pretty heavy topics, but Jono and Ben have embraced it. It’s not a highlight at all because what happened was in no way a highlight, but how our show came together, as a family, on the day of what happened in Christchurch. It was a horrific event and in no way a positive thing, but it was really beautiful to see the power of radio to bring so many people together, to look after each other in such an awful time.
Jono: And I have no highlights. Nothing but lowlights. I have highlights in my fringe right now because I went blonde a few months ago, I can’t afford to keep it going, now the regrowth’s there.


Sharyn what have you been able to take from the experience of working with these guys?
Sharyn: Well I don’t know if they’ll let me get through it, because every single time I try to compliment Jono and Ben, they interrupt and don’t take the compliment because that’s who they are. In our industry, there are so many big egos and whereas Jono and Ben don’t have an ego at all and it’s amazing. I also don’t think people realise just how hard they work. I don’t think I’ve met anybody in this industry that always gives it a thousand; most of us are just striving to give it a hundred. The big thing for me is I used to cry and get really upset every time anyone ever said anything bad about me and I think they’ve really taught me that it doesn’t matter what one person thinks of me because you know the actual truth, so I shake that stuff off easier than I used to.
Ben: Basically we showed Sharyn all the horrible comments there were about us out there and she felt a lot better about herself.
Sharyn: See what I mean though, can’t take a compliment without a joke! It’s just not in their DNA, they’re just not egotistical in any way, which is amazing.


And boys, how have you benefited from working with Sharyn?
Sharyn: They have to talk about their feelings a lot more.
Ben: It’s true! I think we’ve sort of grown as people and broadcasters, working with Sharyn, coz you do talk about stuff you probably wouldn’t have gone near; things that matter. It’s really cool to talk about those things and be more real.


What is something about each of you that people would be surprised to know?
Ben: Jono’s not actually bald!
Jono: I think people are surprised we actually work hard. But we do put a lot of time into planning for the show because we want it to be good.
Sharyn: I think people would be surprised that Ben is quite a sensitive dude and Jono works constantly. It’s hard to think of one ever for yourself, mine’s probably something like…
Jono: Well the thing with Sharyn is she’s exactly who she is on the radio. That’s why Sharyn is so good at her job, because you know exactly who she is; she’s real.


What do the next 12 months have in store for you?
Jono: Contract negotiations.
Ben: That’s a great question for our boss!
Jono: We’re in the last year of our contracts…
Jono: There could be an interview at Metropol Magazine! Do you need any writers? Not good ones but…
Sharyn: Hopefully keep doing what we’re doing and not get fired!

 


 

Brodie Kane

Brodie’s greatest ‘hits’

Brodie Kane has spent the last decade in the big smoke, but home is where the heart is for this much-loved Breakfast journalist, who headed back to Christchurch six months ago to join radio legend Dave ‘Fitzy’ Fitzgerald on The Hits

Brodie Kane
“The opportunity to host a breakfast radio show was to good to be true”

“Look, I won’t pretend it was easy,” she says of the decision to leave the place she had called home for almost 10 years to the day.
“I’d been up there so long; I was very settled. I really enjoyed my job working on Breakfast, but as time went by, it was the lure of a new challenge. I’ve always loved radio and one of my goals was to host a radio show.
“The opportunity to host a breakfast radio show was too good to be true, combined with being able to come home to spend more time with my family and give something else a good crack. It just made sense in the end.”
So how’s she enjoying being back? “I’m answering this on what’s probably the coldest day of the year,” she laughs.
“I’m loving it. The last time I lived in Christchurch was for 18 months back in 2014. It was a broken city. I know there is such a long way to go, but equally there are so many wonderful things happening, so many wonderful people are involved in getting the city back on its feet.
“Christchurch is a really colourful, vibrant city. It’s really grown in the last 12 months or so and it’s fun to see it happen.”
Journalism was first put on Brodie’s radar by a careers advisor in high school, before she attended Canterbury University, supporting herself with part time promotional work in radio – of all things. “I wanted to be a story teller and there’s no better place than the media to do that,” she says.
“I had so much admiration for journalists and radio hosts. I’ve loved the adventure over the past decade.”
Brodie has some pretty impressive accolades under her commercial belt, including interviewing Mick Fleetwood from Fleetwood Mac, even winning Best Broadcast Sports Story award a couple of years back. But it’s her work with Fair Go that stands out as one of the most rewarding.
“Every day I feel lucky to be in the job I’m in. I am very lucky to be in an industry I love; that’s pretty cheesy, but hey!”
So how is radio treating her? “If print, TV and radio were three siblings, radio would be the super fun party sister,” she laughs.
“It is so much fun; there are so many passionate people that work here. What I really like is you get to be yourself. What I love about The Hits is that they’re awesome about encouraging you to be a strong woman, not enforcing old school stereotypes.
“They really want their women hosts across the country to be strong and speak their mind. I’m really lucky to be able to do that; get up every morning, work with Fitzy and just have so much fun. It makes the awful time of the alarm clock going off worth it.”
What does the next 12 months have in store? “I’ve got some exciting personal projects like the Auckland Marathon later this year and other sports broadcasting related things on the cards. But workwise, we will continue to grow the show so that every single person in Christchurch sets their alarm for 6am and listens to us for the next three hours,” she laughs.
With that level of passion and dedication, you just know it’s going to happen.