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MediaSeptember 10, 2015

Television: Does My Platform Look Big in This? The First MediaWorks Presenter Power Rankings

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This year has been the most turbulent in MediaWorks’ history. They’ve farewelled one nationally beloved broadcaster so clumsily that it threatened to sink the ship for a moment there. But they’ve also launched three new news products in less than six months in Story, Newsworthy and Paul Henry. There are mutterings about the role of Julie Christie and the arrival of the good ship Glucina into Weldon’s harbour. It’s a lot of fun watching the company navigate right now. And against that chaotic backdrop it seemed like the perfect time to reassess the on-air talent, and measure their importance to the company by weighing their work across all of MediaWorks infinite mutating platforms. These rankings are extremely scientific, entirely subjective and specifically designed to cause problems at the company’s next salary negotiations. Enjoy!

1. Duncan Garner

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Garner’s ascent to the top of the these rankings was inevitable, given that MediaWorks has essentially draped itself around him like a garish polyester cloak, conforming to his shape, his motion. He is MediaWorks, and MediaWorks is he: a brash, unrepentant workaholic with mainstream views held very, very strongly. Only a few short years ago, Garner was an energy guy, coming down from the Beehive mountain to testify furiously about the misdeeds of its inhabitants; only let loose for five furious minutes in the middle of the news. We watched, marveled, shook our heads and moved on.

Now he rules the roost, with three hours of agenda-driven talkback a day, followed by a half hour primetime current affairs show which is deeply informed by his worldview. He’s active, if a little inscrutable at times, on Twitter, and there can be no doubt that in MediaWorks modern, multi-platform era Duncan Garner is king. / Duncan Greive

Main outlets: RadioLive, 3-6pm Weeknights; Story 7pm Mon-Thurs.

Twitter: 24.3K followers

2. Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce

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The court jesters are slowly but surely taking over the Mediaworks castle. Funnymen Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce spend 20 hours a week on the radio, hosting The Rock’s drive show from 3-7 on weekdays, before digging deep to present an hour of televised comedy and hijinks on TV3’s Jono & Ben every Friday night. They also command a cool 43.8K twitter followers and a crazy 282K Facebook likes – almost 100K more than John Key!

Jono  and Ben are inevitably set to become New Zealand’s first co-Prime Ministers under some terrifying post-TPP MediaWorks takeover of Parliament. Already this year the pair have launched 10,000,000 cans of V into our impressionable and now fully peaking youth, successfully sailed their TV show from 10pm to 7:30pm and piloted an inflatable bouncy castle across Lake Taupo. Now they’ve sailed into the #2 spot on these Power Rankings, thanks to their status as both TV and radio heavyweights and walking billboards. / Calum Henderson

Main outlets: The Rock, 3-7pm Weeknights; Jono & Ben, 7:30pm Fridays.

Twitter: 43.8K followers

3. Hilary Barry

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Queen Bazza has been working for TV3 since 1993, and shows no sign of slowing down. If anything, she’s speeding up – this year signing up to an excruciating amount of on-air time, much of it in a Jim Kayes-Paul Henry sandwich. Yum.

What else have we seen from Hilary this year? One of the most poignant reactions to Campbell Live’s axing, some great indoor cricketing and some really great dancing. So. Much. Dancing. She’s also been vocal on social media about a lot of precious MediaWorks property, driving that nasty witch Natalia away from our bully-free shores with her pointy Twitter pitchfork. She even wore the same jacket as Steve Broad for crying out loud. I’m also intrigued by Hilary’s love of hilarious behind-the-scenes pranks, and her championing of the siesta. If Judy Bailey is the still the mother of the nation, Hilary Barry is the cool auntie who lets you have a sip of brew from her illustrious CRAFT BEER FRIDGE. Hilary is a ray of light, and epitomises the MediaWorks I want to see in the world. / Alex Casey

Main outlets: 3 News, 6pm weeknights; Paul Henry 6-9am weekdays (simulcast online and on RadioLive).

Twitter: 59.4K followers

4. Guy Williams

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Williams first entered the nation’s gaze on TVNZ’s Breakfast as Jay Pryor, a pro-whaling activist. Since that Jono & Ben prank in 2010 Guy has ascended the internal MediaWorks bubble shaft like a gangly Charlie Bucket who’s had his anus sealed with Selley’s No More Gaps. The lanky one is the epitome of MediaWorks’ eat-itself ubiquity, and is particularly valuable thanks to his monster twitter army. He clocks up 20 hours during the week on radio station The Edge’s 3-7pm shift as part of Guy, Sharon & Clint Afternoons. He’s also the offside joke master general for Jono & Ben on TV3, and the purported destroyer of all decent television in his role as the narrator for NZ’s version of Come Dine With Me. At his peak, Williams was contributing an extraordinary 23.5 hours to Mediaworks’ weekly schedule.

He combines broad dad jokes with of the best awkward humor New Zealand has ever seen since Jonah Lomu officially greeted Public Enemy at the airport and Flavour Flav thought he was the driver. He’s a versatile keeper for MediaWorks – and rightly so. / José Barbosa

Main Outlets: Guy, Sharyn & Clint on The Edge Afternoons from 3pm-7pm; sidekick on Jono & Ben, Come Dine With Me narrator, The Xtra Factor host.

Twitter: 87.5K followers

5. Mike McRoberts

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The 3 News co-anchor can boast 14 years at the Flower Street sanctum. In that time his hair may have got whiter, but his professional dedication to introducing stories about the royal family and the latest Bieber atrocity remains undiminished. While presenting the news (five hours a week) is McRoberts’ main gig, he can be called upon to launch himself into war zones like a full flak jacket bullet and, at least in one case, literally saving a little girl’s life.

Despite accusations of “becoming the story”, McRoberts remains a steadfast and reassuring presence during the nightly Clockwork Orange-esque montage that is the TV news. His hands, big as cake tins, envelope the nation in a warm cocoon of love and as we all drift off you can hear him whisper “home boners.” He’s one of the network’s most prominent faces, but slips down the rankings a little due to being dedicated to one medium and one show. / JB

Main Outlets: 6pm News anchor (simulcast on RadioLive), occasional war correspondent

Twitter: 36.7K

6. Paul Henry

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The unfortunate fact is that Paul Henry, post-Breakfast, has been more talked about than watched or heard. He moved to RadioLive, and didn’t dent ZB. He moved to Australia, and his show tanked. He moved back, replaced Nightline, and barely moved the ratings needle. Last year MediaWorks famously announced they would deploy him everywhere, all the time. So how’s his fancy new gig Paul Henry doing? Only OK-ish.

All this mediocrity means he’s lower in the rankings than the big chunk of TV and radio primetime he occupies would suggest. But at the same time, it’s hard to make a case that it’s his fault particularly. Every opponent he’s come up against has been in an extremely dominant position. So while Paul Henry so far seems a bit too lightweight for both my own tastes and for viewers, MediaWorks have shown major faith in Brand Henry, and will likely keep unspooling rope for a long while yet. But there will certainly be nerves on Flower Street about whether this vast multi-year investment is ever going to pay off. / DG

Main Outlets: Paul Henry, 6-9am, Monday-Friday on TV3 and RadioLive

Twitter: 9.8k (show account)

7. JJ & Dom


Lately MediaWorks has shown a pronounced ruthless streak. The Vote launched to much fanfare, but got cut down before getting to its first election. Bedtime staple Nightline was dumped for a measly year of The Paul Henry Show. And John Campbell has left commercial networks entirely. They’ve had a clearout and round of re- brands and -positions at radio too. But one thing never changes: JJ and Dom, the pranking, puerile prince and princess of pop radio. Nothing can stop these overgrown children – neither columns from The Spinoff, nor columns from The Spinoff. If anything, they’re more entrenched than ever, with JJ’s long-running, semi-tragic appearance on Dancing With the Stars and the rise of The Edge TV. Still, radio is a ruthless medium. And the JJ and Dom approach is starting to seem awful dated. Could 2016 be the year their time runs out? / DG

Main Outlets: JJ, Mike and Dom, The Edge 6-10am weekdays. JJ a go-to reality guest, The Edge TV

Twitter: JJ: 53.2K. Dom: 42.2K. Radio show: 45.5K

8. Patrick Gower

Paddy Gower ascended from cult hero to icon with a few choice expletives towards the end of last year. But even if he hadn’t created that glorious moment for our young nation, his value to MediaWorks would still have been sky high after his electrifying work through last year’s extraordinary election campaign. He inherited Duncan Garner’s position as 3 News Political Editor in 2012, and took his predecessor’s already aggro approach and pumped it full of meth and steroids. Whenever political news breaks – and often as not it’s Paddy or his able lieutenants breaking it – he’s the guy you want grinding it into paste on the fuckin’ news. He may go too far at times, and some find his whole style repugnant – but Patrick Gower a one man political wrecking ball, and a must-retain for MediaWorks. / DG

Main outlets: 3 News Political Editor, Panelist on The Nation, commentary across radio properties

Twitter: 28.7K

9. Sharyn Casey

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Sharyn Casey fought tooth and nail for a place at The Edge after winning a competition to work for the almighty station. She jumped off the Skytower, spent an exorbitant amount of time handcuffed to Chang in a bikini. and had to kiss 40 strangers. Years later, it looks like all that good honest work is now paying off. Sharyn Casey has freed herself from at least one of The Edge handcuffs, and has spread her talents effectively across a myriad of other MediaWorks products.

From some excellent accidental swearing on Dancing With the Stars NZ, to the animal-masked chaos that was The Xtra Factor, to sporadic appearances in Jono & Ben sketches, she’s proved that she has the unwaveringly sunny mettle needed to survive and thrive within the MediaWorks rat king. Let us not underestimate the significance of her personal life either. Married to Bryce Casey of The Rock’s Morning Rumble and 7 Days, there is endless potential for women’s magazines, and perhaps even a challenge to the well-worn JJ & Dom throne. / AC

Main outlets: The Edge Afternoons with Guy, Sharyn & Clint, 3-7pm weekdays; Dancing With the Stars NZ, The Xtra Factor

Twitter: 20.9K

10. Samantha Hayes

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When Halley’s Comet next appears in our solar system it’ll fly straight into the earth creating a massive cloud encompassing the globe. It’s the intense gravity well formed by Samantha Hayes’ massive star power that will pull the comet to earth and create our eventual doom. Humankind will be driven into a new dark age where mutant sloths farm people for belly button lint and we will all curse her name in unison: Hayes … Hayes … Hayes.

But for now she’s rocking those pantsuits on our screens, pulling double duty as co-host of Newsworthy (2.5 hours a week) with David Farrier, plus reporting for and presenting on Sunday night current affairs show 3D, while still spot filling in on the news.

She’s a mainstay on TV3 billboard advertising, usually occupying a mid distance position behind the Barry/McRoberts/Henry/Gower rectangle of power, but ahead of the Shepherd/Morrah/Rodger triangle of sad Christmas dinners. So while Newsworthy is taking its time to find an audience, Hayes remains a key figure in MediaWorks’ galaxy of stars. / JB

Main Outlets: Co-host, Newsworthy, reporting and presenting for 3D, some news bulletins.

Twitter: 35.6K

11. Mike Puru

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Has anybody been more perfectly suited for a TV hosting role than Mike Puru was for The Bachelor? He just slipped so seamlessly from third-wheeling Jay-Jay & Dom on the Edge’s Morning Madhouse to third-wheeling Art Green and the 20 Bachelorettes. You do worry that he will be forever cast in this slightly tragic role and never allowed to strike out as a full Mediaworks personality in his own right – always having to rely on outside gigs like his shifts on shopping channel Yes Shop. I thought he would have been a way better Dancing With the Stars host than Dominic Bowden, and imagined him lurking despondently beneath the set’s stairs like the Phantom of the Opera, waiting for his big chance. Will it come? For the nice man from Gore, I bloody hope so. / CH

Main outlets: The Edge Breakfast, 6-10am Weekdays; The Bachelor.

Twitter: 17.6K

12. Si & Gary

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The old dogs of the MediaWorks kennel, Simon Barnett and Gary McCormick’s More FM Breakfast show has been beaming out across the nation for 22.5 hours a week for the last 700 years. But after Si’s Dancing With the Stars victory earlier this year the pair feel more relevant than they’ve been in decades. He probably carried half the show’s ratings on his back every week, and the loyal following his Christian values and ripped ‘dadbod’ commanded won’t have gone unnoticed. Si and Gary are the only members of these Power Rankings to not have Twitter accounts, which is strangely admirable. / CH

Main outlets: More FM Breakfast, 5:30am-10am Weekdays

Twitter: No

13. Heather DuPlessis-Allan

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Snagged from TVNZ by ace talent scout Mark Jennings, Heather Du Plessis-Allan makes way more sense on TV3 anyway, where she can let her big, brassy personality shine. Her and Garner are almost eerily alike, each ambitious, loud, unwaveringly confident in opinions which aren’t always built on the most solid ground. But she has emerged as the dominant interviewer on Story, and it can’t be long before the MediaWorks fairy comes down, taps her on the shoulder and whisks her off to radioland, too. She’s also buoyed by her marriage to the Barry Soper, Political Editor at RadioLive’s arch rival ZB. Their Romeo & Juliet-story of love transcending warring media behemoths (and a 33-year age gap) keeps the gossip magazines interested – a free promotional channel that MediaWorks will find some way of weighing, no doubt. / DG

Main outlets: Story, 7pm Mon-Thurs on TV3. Also simulcast on RadioLive

Twitter: 14.4K

14. Dominic Bowden

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Slim cut suit, electro-shocked black hair, bronzer constantly bordering on Art Green’s bad night out, there’s no denying that Dominic Bowden has played a big part in pausing MediaWorks to greatness this year. From the good mullet-wearing times on Dancing With the Stars NZ to the painful armpit and ankle exposing outfits on X Factor NZ, Bowden has always been up for doing whatever it takes to make good live television. For example, I went to the first record of Dancing With the Stars NZ. It was, to be expected, a production nightmare that required multiple re-records of presenter links. Between takes, Dom dramatically pretended to both hang and shoot himself, but when the cameras were rolling, he would slip into that impenetrably orange Seacrest veneer that we all know and love. I struggle to think of any other host that could fill his very particular non-threatening, Dad joking, Hallenstein’s mannequin-shaped space in our TV landscape. / AC

Main outlets: Dancing With the Stars NZ; X Factor NZ

Twitter: 44.2K

15. Jeremy Corbett & Paul Ego

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The O.G 7 Days stalwarts appear on the panel show week after week, endlessly ripping each other to shreds in the merciless way that only longstanding duos can. Visually, they make the ideal double act – Jeremy wears a suit jacket, Paul doesn’t. Jeremy has hair, Paul doesn’t. Jeremy has glasses, Paul doesn’t. The sting from Jeremy’s sassy pointed barbs are soothed by Paul’s meandering Grandpa-on-a-porch style trains of thought. This comedic balance has leant itself well to other products within the MediaWorks family, as the pair appear on The Nation’s ‘Politics in 60 Seconds’ segment as well as (maybe, big maybe) hosting a radio show on a definitely fake-sounding station called ‘The Radio’. With 7 Days raking in that delicious cheesy Georgie Pie dollar every week, these two remain hotter commodities than a compromised butter chicken pie.

Main outlets: 7 Days; The Nation

Twitter: Jeremy – 23.6K; Paul – 15.6K

16. Sean Plunket

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Plunko has pretty much seen it all in his 30 years or so in journalism. He’s worked as a political reporter for both TVNZ and TV3, spent 13 years tempering the vicious Geoff Robinson on RNZ’s Morning Report, maintained a craft blog and now finds himself occupying Michael Laws’ old spot on RadioLive from 9-12pm.

Plunket brings experience and intelligence to his space on the Mediaworks schedule, but seems happy enough to biff all that behind the toilet like an old waxy cotton bud if there’s a chance to offend. This means more MediaWorks-related pixels on people’s twitter feeds, so think of Plunket as the Doof Warrior and Mark Weldon as Immortan Joe from Mad Max: Fury Road and you’ll have their respective roles pretty much pegged.

Main outlet: RadioLive 9-12pm Weekdays

Twitter: 5,318

17. David Farrier

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Farrier has been with TV3 since 2005, kneesliding across the likes of 3 News, Nightline and Campbell Live like a bat out of hell with more kooky stories you can shake a Mongolian Death Worm at. The comparisons to Louis Theroux come thick and fast via glasses, but his attention to fringe subcultures and the absurd truly is Farrier’s niche. I first learnt of Farrier when he did a story about the emos that hung out by the Burger King on Queen Street, a place where my 14-year-old self desperately wanted to lurk. Since then, he’s been all over TV3 like a heavy dyed fringe over a thickly-lined eye. Given the task of co-host on this year’s late night show Newsworthy, he’s done as much for the channel as he has for the Jurassic Park franchise, and has brought with him the most famous online bird New Zealand has seen since that kakapo tried to have sex with Stephen Fry’s cameraman. He’s also a Twitter beast, whose only handicap is an independent streak which sees him leave MediaWorks’ beloved radio well alone.

Main outlet: Newsworthy, weeknights

Twitter: 47K

18. Rose Matafeo

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In the midst of all the Campbell Live hullabaloo, one of the suggestions tossed up for saving the show was to install Rose Matafeo as John Campbell’s co-host. Granted people were in full panic mode and frantically grasping at straws by this stage, but it does speak to her versatility as a Mediaworks asset. Before heading overseas in the second half of the year Matafeo was a cornerstone of Jono & Ben, a regular 7 Days panelist and popped up in a series of legitimately funny spots advertising yoghurt during The Bachelor. She will be back to make new series Funny Girls at some stage, so she’s not completely out of the picture. / CH

Main outlets: Jono & Ben, 7 Days, Funny Girls

Twitter: 19.9K

19. Paula Penfold


Earlier this year Paula Penfold gave a riveting speech on the banks of the languid Waikato to the Wintec Press Club, talking through in extraordinary detail the lengths to which she and her producer Eugene Bingham went to on the Teina Pora story. They were part of a small group of journalists who did triumphant work on that awful miscarriage of justice, and her work is symptomatic of the kind of slow, painstaking, dogged work which the current journalistic economy finds it very difficult to fund. But it ultimately paid off in spades for Penfold, 3D and TV3, and her adherence to that strain of journalism helps prevent TV3 being dragged under by furores like that which engulfed the channel around Campbell Live. She’s also married to Mike McRoberts, an alliance which brings a frisson of glamour to the network, much as each would like disdain it.

Main outlets: 3D reporter, 3 News reporting

Twitter: 6,909

20. Tom Furniss

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Call me crazy for choosing to put Tom Furniss in here and not Bryce Casey, The Rock co-host and Mr Sharyn Casey – but I’ve done it. Although relatively new on the block (not the show – at least not yet), Furniss has already stepped with ease into a number of MediaWorks arenas. There’s his initiation into The Rock’s Morning Rumble, memorable moments of which include his stoic entry into a bodybuilding competition and a fittingly cross-promotional surprise trip to Dancing With the Stars NZ. Radio promotion? Tick. Telly promotion? Tick. MediaWorks genius? HUGE TICK. Aside from The Rock, which he’s on for four hours every weekday, Tom frequently appears in sketches on Jono & Ben, and regularly takes a seat on the 7 Days panel. The multi-platform MediaWorks potential is strong in this one. / AC

Main outlets: The Rock’s Morning Rumble, weekdays 6-10am, 7 Days

Twitter: 5,202

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