Talkback listeners were taken on an unexpectedly thrilling journey last night as the Newstalk ZB host broadcast his frantic search for the studio swipe card.
“I probably sound a bit different tonight,” Newstalk ZB’s Marcus Lush told listeners shortly after 8pm. “Am I feeling different? No. Do I sound different? Yes.”
What was going on? “There has been a situation. I’ve driven to work tonight, sat outside, read all the news. Thought I’d go into work and make a cup of tea and get going. But I found I’ve gone to work with the wrong set of keys.”
Attached to those keys? His all-important Newstalk ZB swipe card.
Lush has found himself locked out of the studio once before, but this time he couldn’t even get into the building. So he began his four-hour broadcast live from State Highway 1, taking listeners along for the ride as he drove back to his Bluff home from ZB’s Invercargill studio to try and find his keys.
He’d been on holiday with his family, he explained, and had taken two sets of keys with him. “We’ve come back from holiday and we haven’t reconciled our keys. So I’ve come to work with the wrong set of keys, which is pretty much a problem.”
He’d already tried calling his partner Vanessa, but she wasn’t answering her mobile or the landline. “I don’t know why,” he said, explaining he hoped to drive by the neighbour’s house, pick up his partner and be reunited with his keys. “It’s not ideal,” he laughed. “It’s not even close to ideal.” He clapped to prove to his listeners that he was on speaker phone.
“We will have a show. It’s just going to start on the road. I’ve got everything I need. Well, I don’t have everything I need, I don’t have my keys. But I’ve got a clock so I know when the first commercials will be.”
Ever the talkback master, Lush attempted to drum up conversation topics for his devoted audience. “Gorgeous day today… a cruise ship was in… By the way if you are listening and know where Vanessa is – she might have the other set of keys.” A moment of off-air disturbance followed. “Is she at the pools?”
The first caller of the night, Sharon, suggested Lush’s partner wasn’t at the neighbours, nor the pool.
Sharon: “She got some last minute tickets – she’s gone to see Elton John in Christchurch.”
Lush: “I think she might be at the pools.”
Sharon: “Pools is code for Elton John.”
Lush: “You’re not very helpful, Sharon.”
Lush drove past the neighbours’. “She’s not at Michelle’s place… I’m going to keep driving and find her.”
As he pulled in outside his own place, he spotted his partner’s car and yelled out: “I’m live, I’m on air. I’ve got the wrong keys. Why didn’t you answer the phone!”
This is where the show took another turn. Leaving the confines of his makeshift car studio, Lush took listeners inside with him to begin a frantic, Uncut Gems stress level search for the keys. “I’m actually crawling around on the floor now”, Lush grunted, “looking, looking, looking.”
“I don’t think this is going to be an award-winning show somehow. Anything but.”
Through it all, he kept taking calls. Murray suggested Lush should hang the keys on a nail with “studio” written on it. “That’s what you need. I’m just suggesting for later,” he offered. Lush agreed, though sounds distracted: “It’s quite hard doing a radio show when you’re frantically looking for something.”
Murray also suggested hiding a spare key behind the number plate, though Simon, who owns an automated car wash, later chimed in to say that’s a bad move. He has a pile of uncollected spare keys that have fallen out during washes.
“You check the shed, Vanessa?” Lush yelled out. The keys were proving elusive.
Caller Andrew had a suggestion. “My boss once had the Christmas ham and he wasn’t allowed to forget it… and he put his keys on the ham in the fridge. So have a look in the fridge!”
“I’m in the fridge. I’m looking around the dry goods,” Lush replied. There was no sign of the keys.
“Check the washing machine,” said the next caller. “You might have put them in the wash.” Nothing. Lush headed outside and checked the trampoline. Nothing.
About 20 minutes into the broadcast, a triumphant Lush yells out again: “We’ve got the keys!” They were in his Vanessa’s bag. “I’m back in the car. I’m going to reverse and then I’m going to drive into town. And then the show will nearly be over for the first hour and we’ve got three hours to go.”
From the house, back to the car studio, the show continued, with Lush appearing to revert to his days of travel documentary. “Marcus Lush here broadcasting from State Highway 1,” he announced after the ad break. “There’s hay baling on my left, there’s hay baling on my right. Plenty of trucks on the road. Not seeing many walkers or cyclists. There’s that car that’s been broken down on the side of the road for three days, it’s not going anywhere.”
He took another call.
Anne: “Firstly Marcus, I’m going to say I’m glad I don’t have to share my life with you.”
Lush: “What would you say that for!”
Anne: “If your wife was the last person to use your keys, look in her pocket or in her handbag!”
Lush: “I’ve never seen her with a bag… I don’t know what ‘in her bag’ was code for!”
Anne: “Women have lots of bags.”
Lush: “I don’t think she does!”
The broadcaster deftly attempted to change topics. Rātana? Elton John? He took another break.
“I’ll make it up to you. No more self-indulgent key talk,” he told the audience on his return.
Arriving back in Invercargill, Lush delivered a masterclass in roundabout technique. “I’ll indicate right to get on it, and I go round, six o’clock, then indicate the other way to come off it.” He travelled past the landmark H&J Smith clock – “we’ll get a vibe of the temperature soon” – and pulled into the studio carpark, just in time for the news break.
“I feel you’ve come with me the whole way. We had a good look around the house, you’ve heard about the wooden floors and the carpet, me going through the drawers, looking on the trampoline,” he said. “Turn the engine off, phone off speaker, get my keys, put my handbrake on and I’m done and dusted. I’ll have a cup of tea. Let’s pretend it’s 8 o’clock again. Am I free to go?”