Calm down, dear.
As regular listeners know very well, morning broadcasts by Kate Hawkesby and Mike Hosking freight the tone of late British personality Michael Winner in an insurance ad. A deep, knowing and disappointed sigh. Calm Down, Dear.
The power couple of New Zealand talk radio have never seen a political scandal, pandemic or downpour that hasn’t been bloated, overblown and exaggerated by hysterical journalists. (To be clear, multi-award-winning journalist Mike Hosking, who hosts the most popular radio show in New Zealand journalism and is one of the two or three most compelling and effective broadcast journalists we have, is not a journalist.)
The NBD tendency was conspicuous in March 2020, when Hosking said Calm Down, Dear, over fears about an emerging coronavirus. To close the border was “overblown” and “hysterical”, and the whole thing was “not as bad as they’ve made it out to be”, he said of a virus which would go on to claim more than six million lives.
The mood was the same this week. That the weather in Auckland didn’t look so bad on Monday morning was enough to send Hawkesby and Hosking into fits of cheery bewilderment at these crazies (scientists, experts, people with information, etc) who were “fear-mongering” about this silly old cyclone.
“They’ve gone overboard on all the warnings,” said Hawkesby. It was all “overcooked”. Hawkesby turned on a cod, nasal, mocking voice: “Oooh,” she said. “Better to be safe than sorry! Ooooh, goodness, better hunker down!” In her own voice, she said: “What’s happened to us as a country that we’ve become this paranoid and this soft?”
“Couldn’t agree more,” said Hosking, picking up the baton. He, too, was appalled at the way New Zealanders had “whipped ourselves into this extraordinary frenzy”, how we’d “got ourselves into this mental state …”
“Panic,” said Hawkesby.
“Hysteria,” said Hosking.
What happened next was that Cyclone Gabrielle unleashed rain and wind, floods and landslides, uprooted trees, cut power to more than half a million New Zealanders, taking at least five lives and displacing more than 10,000 people from their homes. Entire communities were cut off from the rest of the country: transport, communications, power. A national state of emergency was declared and the army, navy and air force were deployed in the most severe weather event to strike New Zealand this century.
To be fair to Hawkesby, she did say on the country’s most popular news station on Monday, “I reserve the right to be wrong.”
And don’t we all.
Instead of getting angry, we sent our researchers into the archives to unearth what those great truth-tellers have told us through years gone by.
The fall of the Berlin Wall
“In no way, shape or form,” Mike Hosking told listeners on November 10, 1989, “is a wall falling over a big deal.”
“Walls fall over every day,” said Kate Hawkesby.
“Every day,” said Hosking, thumping his microphone, lurching from falsetto to bass. “Every. Single. Day.”
The moon landing
“The moon? Wake me when they land on the sun,” said Hawkesby in the early hours of July 20, 1969, over the noise of somebody vacuuming the studio. After the 6am bulletin, Hawkesby launched into a tirade about the gruelling realities faced these days by hardworking broadcasters searching for a decent tradie to install a pool.
Rutherford splits the atom
“Come on, there are atoms everywhere.”
“Goes to reason – does it not? – that one of them is going to split at some point or other.”
The assassination of Franz Ferdinand
“Hardly the Proclaimers,” said Hosking in an editorial on June 29, 1914.
The signing of the treaty of Waitangi
“Waitangi, lovely place,” said Hawkesby on February 6, 1840. “But I’m much more interested in those gorgeous sunsets than some comicon of autograph seeking.” Hosking noted a 249.13 point drop in the Nasdaq before doing some very funny banter and launching into a full-throated defence of Jeremy Clarkson against the “wokerati”.
The Black Death
The bubonic plague that swept Europe, North Africa and Asia was a consistent feature of the top-ranking morning shows on ZB for seven years from 1346, but Hawkesby and Hosking were equally consistently unimpressed. “They were going to die anyway,” said Hosking, as part of a “Mike’s Minute” segment headed “The Bubonic Meh”.
The Battle of Hastings
“Conqueror?” scoffed Hawkesby immediately after the 6am bulletin on October 14 1066. “Hard to lose when the other guy has an arrow sticking out of his eye.” After a break for infomercials, Hawkesby noted that Meghan Markle had “ruined everything”.
The construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza
During broadcasts in the early 26th century BC, Hosking admonished “hysterical, clickbait media” for “wetting themselves” over the construction of “some glorified triangles”. He said: “In no way, shape or form is this a story.”
The Big Bang
Around 13.8 billion years ago, shortly after the observable universe exploded into being, Mike Hosking cautioned listeners against “getting all melodramatic” given “universes are ten-a-penny”, before cracking open a Peroni and lamenting a “catastrophically terrible call” by the referee in the weekend’s Warriors game.
In his acclaimed “Mark the Week” segment a few days later, Hosking called the Big Bang a “total fizzer … shmig shmang”, and rated it 4/10. Happy days.