Mike Hosking’s Newstalk ZB breakfast show rates highly in every city and region in the country except Rotorua. Madeleine Chapman investigates.
At 5:59am every weekday morning, as Kate Hawkesby is saying her goodbyes and Mike Hosking prepares to start his popular breakfast radio show, the city of Rotorua changes the channel. The ratings monster of Mike Hosking Breakfast – ranked in the top three, often number one, in every other centre around the country – ranks a dismal 8th in Rotorua.
That’s the injury. The insult to that injury is the revelation that Newstalk ZB – including his wife Hawkesby – ranked number two in the midnight-to-6am time slot. It’s just Mike they don’t like.
Hosking lamented his lack of audience on Friday morning, cheerfully wishing ZB listeners farewell. “Okay bye Rotorua! See you tomorrow!”
The news didn’t seem to bother Hosking too much, who joked with Hawkesby about his Rotorua woes. “I’m so depressed. We’re going through the markets and it’s 1, 2, 2, 1, 2, Rotorua 8, 2, 1, 2…”
Rotorua, the blot on the nationwide success of Hosking and his musings. Perhaps there was a simple explanation that Hosking could share with the rest of his listeners. “Rotorua, come on! What’s the matter with you?” Perhaps not.
He didn’t seem too concerned with finding out if there really was an explanation. But while Hosking might be happy with a major audience share throughout the rest of the country, the fact remains that Rotorua, for whatever reason, simply does not want to hear what he has to say.
Todd McClay, MP for Rotorua, literally couldn’t believe the ratings as they were read out. “I think this is fake news, Rotorua people love Mike,” he said, possibly from a National Party branded car. “When I go out that’s all they’re talking about.”
Taking out that coveted top morning breakfast spot in Rotorua is Flava. The greatest station in the country, The Coast, comes in at second. The Coast operates squarely in the 45+ age demographic, as does Newstalk ZB. It’s clear the oldies in Rotorua would much prefer some Hall & Oates to some Mike and Hosking. McClay, the consummate politician, had an answer for that too. “We are a tranquil city and it doesn’t surprise me that between six and nine in the morning people are listening to music. I think if Mike was to come out with a Christmas hit, people would tune in more.”
Or maybe it’s simply that Newstalk ZB has an AM frequency in Rotorua, “which might have something to do with it,” said McClay, probably from his car. A car which inexplicably “is AM only, you can’t get FM on it.” McClay listens to ZB. He did not say whether he listened as a fan or as someone whose car only gets AM frequencies.
This annoyingly straightforward explanation was supported by a member of Rotorua’s most famous family. Mohi Beckham, longtime resident and brother of Steven and Valerie Adams, said frequency is a serious issue in Rotorua, particularly for farmers and those living in more rural areas. “RadioLive guy has better coverage than ZB down here, especially for truckies and that. I was a RadioLive guy when I was a delivery truck driver.”
That doesn’t explain the second place ranking for ZB in the midnight-6am time slot, although they placed second behind local station The Heat FM, which led by a country mile in the graveyard shift but is barely noticed for the rest of the day. Extensive investigations have uncovered no explanation as to why The Heat FM is so popular at 2am. I’m choosing to believe it’s because they play an audio recording of Michael Mann’s 1995 masterpiece Heat in that time slot.
It must also be said that six hours is a long shift and Hawkesby only covers the last hour. So while Hawkesby playfully boasted that listeners were big fans of her show and not Hosking’s, for all we know listeners could be tuning out before her show had even begun and it wouldn’t affect the ratings. But for the sake of this story, let’s assume that the entire city of Rotorua changes the station from Newstalk ZB at 5:59am every weekday morning.
Beckham gave perhaps the closest thing to a reason why.
“He might come off a bit racist or a bit rich and Rotorua people don’t take to that stuff too well, to be honest. I mean I kinda like him but can I tell you right now? He comes off as a bit of a toss.”
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