What happens when breakfast radio enters the lockdown era?

As New Zealand adjusts to our new normal, one thing from the old world remains – commercial breakfast radio. We tuned into the first morning of lockdown on the airwaves. 

In a time when the world seems completely upside-down, you can thankfully still count on commercial breakfast radio to be there for you, bright and early, every weekday morning. Now more than ever, hearing your Flynnies and your Jases still bantering away in a studio provides a comforting totem for people among the chaos, as well as providing essential information about the Covid-19 crisis. So, how did the the breakfast broadcasting world cover the first day of lockdown? Alex Casey and Tara Ward perched by their transistors to bring you these mini-reviews.

Mai FM kept things positive

“We’re alive, and it’s a brand new day!” soothed the morning Mai team, beaming into our earholes like giant rays of feel-good sunshine. There were dry jokes, there were sweet call-ins, there was Bill Withers’ uplifting ‘Lovely Day’ booming out into the lockdown void, and jeez, it felt good. We all joined in on the chorus (A LOVELY DAAAAAAAAAY), and suddenly, the weeks ahead didn’t seem quite as daunting. We weren’t alone any more. “Day one! We’ve got this!” my new BFF Tegan said. Pandemic? Schmandemic! It’s a lovely daaaaaaaay! / Tara Ward

ZM milked the dairy farmers

“Here we are on day one of lockdown, somehow an essential service,” laughs Fletch, or was it Vaughan? It was definitely early, and according to our chipper hosts the streets of Auckland’s CBD were eerily empty when they arrived at work on the first day of lockdown. Boarded-up shop fronts, stock pushed right to the back, and the only other car on the road was a rubbish truck, hooning gleefully through every red light.  

The show kicked off with a brand new game called Early Morning Essentials, where the hosts spin a digital wheel to find out which essential service they want to hear from that day. “Like a police officer,” says Vaughan. “Won’t they be busy?” asks Megan. “Good point,” says Vaughan. Nevertheless, they persisted, landing on farmers (not the department store ones, the cow ones). 

Cue some extremely wholesome minutes of farmers ringing up from all around the country for a few yarns and even more “yeah, nahs”. The team talk to dairy farmer Hannah, who says being on lockdown is like “just another day really, eh”. Sarah in Christchurch describes her “fresh morning” in Christchurch, and Buddy from Taranaki was mooching around the rotary. “Doing great, another day in the life as they say.” / Alex Casey

The Rock sipped from the cup of life 

Lads lads lads, the last thing you expect to hear at 6am on the first day of lockdown are the words “flesh baton”, but these are unprecedented times. I was still reeling from The Rock’s previous day’s lament about the anticipated return of the “Mum Bush”, but don’t worry guys, we’ve got four weeks at home, we’ll have plenty of time to garden. 

It seems an international crisis is the perfect time to make Roger drink a potent herbal coffee that promises to do incredible things to his manhood. Mulls reckoned “99.9% of research suggests men have dicks, and they’re listening to us now”, which might be the most optimistic statistic we’ll hear this entire pandemic. It was a lot before 6.14am, but then again, was it really? It’s a whole new world, maybe we should all be talking about our bits and bobs on the wireless. Keep your flesh batons and lady gardens inside your bubble, and we’ll all get through this together. “Yeah the boys!” texted a listener. Yeah, indeed. / TW

The Hits took the law into their own hands

Judge Toni Street was adjudicating the lockdown court of appeal on The Hits, and she was not taking any shit from her pesky complainants. For instance, Sam Wallace wanted to know if he could still go paddleboarding during lockdown. “How often do you paddleboard?” asked co-host Laura McGoldrick. “I’ve only just picked it up,” said Wallace.

“But if I stay nice and shallow, what could go wrong?”

A pause, a sigh, an audible eye roll. 

“You could get coronavirus.” 

Still, the questions from the floor kept coming. Can you have a spa at home? Yes. Go for a surf? No. Swim? No. Paddleboard? No. “Sammy, don’t argue with the Covid-19 website,” Judge Streety ruled, banging an invisible hammer. “Wow. This is quite intense, isn’t it?” said Wallace. Yes Sammy, yes it is. / AC 

Coast kept things extremely chill

Old mate Jase was on the phone with the prime minister and explaining that he has to come into work through two special doors to get into NZME, “gloves in the elevator, all that stuff” – all that stuff! How quickly things change! Concerningly, Jase also says that he is broadcasting in his pyjamas, which is kind of fitting with the apocalyptic countdown timer to the end of lockdown on the Coast website, ticking right down to the final SECOND?! Luvvit. / AC

The Edge had the horn for truckies

Things were horntastic over on The Edge, as the breakfast crew reached out to the truckies helping to keep the country running while the rest of us agonise over which episode of Friends is the funniest. The segment was Horn Wars, a quest to find out which Kiwi driver has the biggest horn. Horns! We’ve all got them, and it’s finally time to harness their power for good.

“How many wheels have you got?” Randell asked Covis, a truckie with a deep, bassy toot. “We don’t count wheels, but I’ve got nine axles,” Covis replied. “More than Guns n’ Roses!” said Meg, an angel among both horns and honks, while Dom ended with “do you want me to guess what kind of panties you’re wearing?” Day one, and yet, just another day in this crazy bits and bobs bubble of life.  / TW

Hauraki had eyes on the horizon

I have to admit that I did not expect to hear Hauraki’s lockdown banter open with “in the words of Marcus Aurelius…” but I guess I’m taking to time to adjust to the new normal. Not Matt and Jerry though, who stayed cool, calm, collected and philosophical about what the next four weeks could do for us as a society. “The obstacle is the way, as Marcus Aurelius said” mused Matt Heath. “This is the obstacle and this is the only way.”

“There’s no rallying around it, there’s no changing, so you have to go ‘what can I get out of it’.” 

Wells reflected on how much he was enjoying being at home with the family and eating dinner with them, before intricately detailing the preparation and cooking of a $38 piece of eye fillet (can’t relate). I’ll admit I welled up (no pun intended) when Wells said that now is the time for your family, your bubble, to create its own rhythm, and how eventually “you will start to look to each other for entertainment, like humans are meant to do.” 

From the same show that brought you John Key pissing in the shower and/or feeding the chickens, then came probably the most salient advice I’ve heard on coping with the lockdown yet: “build better relationships, get to know yourself better, become strong on your own – there’s a way of coming out of this with some net positive.” / AC



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