Willie Jackson and John Tamihere are both very popular talkback hosts. At times I have listened and enjoyed some of their more gently unPC comments, all in the name of ‘showmanship and entertainment.’ Both are not known for suffering fools or some of the more serious callers, sensitively, who call in on a range of subjects. Both are former politicians and it was my belief that John was about to return to the Labour Party folds and try to get back into Parliament. Maybe I am wrong on that score but if he is intending on going down that road, he may have done himself some damage as a result of his comments and the way he and his co-host handled a caller who was trying to relay her experience re the ‘Roast Buster’ experiences.
This time, both me may have been just that bit ‘too smarty pants,’ and ended up belittling the young lady who called. As a result they have received threats, causing the radio station to bring in extra security and the damage does not stop there. Advertising revenue has been cut from their show and from the station in general. Any half-hearted apologies either from the two men or the station seemed to have fallen on deaf ears as the advertising dollars dry up. ‘Management’ is alleged to have spoken to the two men.
We all know that both men are ‘men’s men.’ No--I don’t mean they are gay! I mean that they like to be a bit edgy in their comments around a range of issues and they do not always see eye to eye with many groups in society that promulgate fairness around women’s issues and other minority causes. Put even more simply, they like to provoke around social issues and it is this tendency that has made them popular and a little off-side with sectors in the community. One could say that this is the nature of talk back radio, a subject that I portray in my latest book, TALK TO ME, and that to be successful in their chosen endeavour, they need to take it to the edge. Let’s face it, if they were boring, no one would listen.
Those who listen to talk back radio, thinking that it serves as their main source of information about how the world works are at best mistaken. If they chose to listen and to not take it too seriously, then perhaps talk back radio is doing what it is meant to do: provide a platform whereby listeners can hear, take part in discussion and be entertained at the same time. There is a very fine balance that can easily be tilted towards the inane and the stupid, if not be downright insulting.
I believe that this time, John and Willie have gone too far in the way they handled that young woman. I know that both men will have their supports and the sad reality is that despite their stance, they well have drawn even more listeners who revel in such actions. The advertising dollars lost may well be won back and then some, simply because people want to be shocked.
But, guys---your words and actions should be held up to review and you need to take account for the way you have mishandled on this occasion and front up---big time. We want a better NZ, not a more dangerous one, but at the same time, don’t lose that spirit you both have; one that I really enjoy, most of the time.