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Leighton Smith with Leighton Smith and Vicki Smith, Sails Restaurant, Auckland, in 2013. Photo: Supplied
Leighton Smith with Leighton Smith and Vicki Smith, Sails Restaurant, Auckland, in 2013. Photo: Supplied

PoliticsDecember 14, 2018

A tribute to Leighton Smith, by Leighton Smith (also Leighton Smith & Leighton Smith)

Leighton Smith with Leighton Smith and Vicki Smith, Sails Restaurant, Auckland, in 2013. Photo: Supplied
Leighton Smith with Leighton Smith and Vicki Smith, Sails Restaurant, Auckland, in 2013. Photo: Supplied

Today one of the true veterans of NZ radio hangs up the headphones to complete three decades as the morning host at Newstalk ZB. To mark the occasion we asked a number of Leighton Smiths if they had a message for him. 

Leighton Smith on Leighton Smith

Very grateful for this opportunity to provide my assessment of the Australian imported Newstalk ZB morning talkback show host Mr Leighton Smith! Can I point out I AM the genuine, authentic New Zealand made Leighton Smith.

I first met Leighton back in 1990 when I was in the Dunedin Public Hospital rehabilitating from my near-death motorcycle accident on Friday April 27th 1990. One day a lady who was in seeing a relative in Ward 4A opposite me, noticed that my name was LEIGHTON SMITH (written above my hospital bed). She said to me, “I know another Leighton Smith – and he is a radio talkback show host in Auckland.” I replied, “Yes I know – my mother listens to him in Invercargill’.  When she returned to see her relative again she informed me she had contacted Leighton Smith in Auckland and he said that he would get in touch with me via telephone at the Dunedin Artificial Limb Centre. So we organised a date and time and sure enough the next time I was over at the Dunedin Artificial Limb Centre (just across the road from the hospital) getting fitted for my new limb, the telephone rang and Leighton was on the other end. He interviewed me live on his show that morning. It was a phone call I have never forgotten and would change my life for the better forever.

That was 28 years ago. Ever since then I have communicated with via email. Finally in 2013 when I turned 50, my wife and I got the opportunity to meet him and his adorable wife Carolyn in Auckland for the very first time. It was rather emotional for me as he had inadvertently become almost a kind of mentor/friend. We met for the second time this year, when I was in Auckland again, this time however for appointments at the Auckland Artificial Limb Centre. And again, the meeting was emotional for me.

My thoughts on Leighton Smith, the broadcaster? Easily the most astute radio broadcaster New Zealand has ever heard/had on the airwaves. Period. Yep – even better than Sir Paul Holmes. Very few callers have ever cornered Leighton in FACTS. Especially when it comes to politics and matters arising. His knowledge on world politics is astounding, especially American politics. I would be surprised to know of anyone who is a more avid reader of literature than him. Oh – possibly my father – though his genre was mainly novels and fiction. Also Leighton seems to have this innate ability to sift through the wheat of available literature/data both online and physical to cut straight to the chaff – the real stuff from the real source/s. He is not interested in time-wasters, gossip, and uneducated ignoramuses. So doesn’t suffer fools. He can talkback with anyone who has been screened and sifted anyway by Mrs Producer. Any reasonably educated caller will get to talkback with him even if they do not share the same opinion on a matter. He is an excellent listener.

My thoughts on Leighton Smith, the man? One of the most intelligent gentlemen I have ever had the privilege to meet in my life. Of course along with such intelligence comes wisdom. He hasn’t gotten to where he is at without thousands of hours of research. He may be of slight physical build – however do not let the visual interrupt the man’s VOICE! What a VOICE! Deep, throaty, and total testosterone. Plus it has a crack, a BARK to it – the best analogy would be a Mercedes-Benz AMG C63 BiTurbo! It is his greatest asset. His voice simply commands r-e-s-p-e-c-t!

His kindness knows no limits. He can talk with you about anybody and anything without bias nor judgement. But it will be about what IS and what is NOT. In other words – about facts. I don’t believe I have ever met anyone who is so close to the truth. He just isn’t interested in pretentiousness. Either come as you are, or don’t bother coming at all, would be my best description of Leighton Smith, the man. He can literally read people like a book. And I somehow know the man’s reading speed to be greater than the speed of sound! I reckon he could sum anyone up in a matter of a few minimal sentences of speech. And I’ll take a bet he’ll be on the bull’s-eye. Sharp. Like a 1920s barber’s razorblade. Actually sharper. There’s an excellent movie titled A Beautiful Mind – well I would describe Leighton’s mind as “wonderful”. Ladies and gentlemen please allow me to introduce you to the eighth wonder of the world – Newstalk ZB morning talkback show host Leighton Smith’s MIND! No I’m not taking the Michael either.

Now what do I think of Leighton Smith’s ideas? I will say this. I don’t agree with everything he says, that’s for sure. I’d say we agree to disagree about man-made climate change. As I believe in both natural and man-made climate change whereas Leighton refuses to accept man-made climate change. I believe man has definitely contributed to climate change. However I do agree with him that political science has influenced reasoning, for sure. Leighton believes the planet is “just fine, thank you” –  I couldn’t disagree more. And I’m definitely no greenie. But I do agree with Sir David Attenborough’s latest speech at COP24. So called “leaders” of the world are NOT leading in my opinion. They are leading to remain in political power (my opinion).

And I agree with Sir David Attenborough’s challenge to the world’s leaders: “The world is in your hands.” I agree totally with Leighton’s ideas on “LEFTIES”. I do not share Leighton’s ideas of Liberalism. While I agree there needs to be less government in people’s lives – liberalism has and still is completely ruining New Zealand. Lack of discipline in New Zealand – New Zealand was once a nation of hard grafting Kiwis. My grandparents grew up in the 1920s. My parents grew up in the depression. They knew what adversity was. Slowly but surely (my guess is from the early to mid 1990s) Kiwis have become soft in the centre. And that is a direct result of the liberalisation of New Zealand (social engineering from consecutive governments – both Labour and National led coalitions).

As a result of liberalist policies, anarchy is just up around the corner. Children/teenagers/young adults in New Zealand are now behaving in a, “Because I/we can” mentality of “I can do what I like when I like because I/we can” – and that/this is a direct result of a weakening of rules/policies in all New Zealand ie at government level, local body level, community level, and eventually home level. Another weakening in the NZ education system is competition. Now “every child’s a winner”. So essentially with such policies and philosophies children are growing and developing without understanding how to lose. Because in the real world of life ie the working environment or the workforce, there is a thing or a concept called/termed “competition” – in business be it at the highest level corporates, or the smallest level, small business. And believe you me, there are definitely WINNERS AND LOSERS in this real world environment. And there is also something else that exists in this real world environment called the workforce, a  thing called “Doing what you are told to do”. Now all that/this can be a very frightening concept for new work force entrants who have gone through school life believing they are winners and answerable to themselves only … and all of a sudden they have a CONTRACT to sign … they then have a thing called “boundaries” they have to adhere to … and above all else … there are serious CONSEQUENCES that will happen to them if they break them … but “I don’t understand”, they protest … “IT WASN’T LIKE THIS AT SCHOOL! I wanna go back to school!”

I totally agree with Leighton’s take on education in NZ now. It’s groupthink! And I would add it’s actually mindful groupthink! Anything to avoid self-responsibility. Self-accountability. And I would further add that Kiwis who think they can function in the workforce by putting in the least amount of work within their working environment and get paid exactly the same amount as their colleagues who put in the greatest amount of work – those days are coming to an end. New Zealand is not only a low-wage economy, its labour force is relatively inefficient and ineffective. In other words New Zealand is relatively unproductive – in comparisons to other OECD countries. Public debt figures are nothing to be proud about either. While many Kiwis are asset rich … you know the type … life luxuries on parade for the next door neighbour to glance over the fence at – pleasure boat, jet ski, Mercedes-Benz AMG 4×4, Harley-Davidson, go-kart, ride-on lawnmower, Volvo Motorhome etc etc … and yet that very same neighbour owns none of them and is cash/capital poor … We Kiwis are now the world’s greatest pretenders!

Leighton Smith is 55-year-old Invercargill-based exercise consultant

Leighton Smith on Leighton Smith

I’m currently working as a political journalist at the Morning Bulletin newspaper in Rockhampton, Australia,  but I am also a jack of all trades covering a broad range of subject matter. I’m aware of the New Zealand radio Leighton due to his presence on Google searches and Facebook but was unaware about his background and after reading the Wikipedia was surprised to learn he was an Aussie.

I’m a libertarian as well as a supporter of the Aussie battler and bit of a story teller. As a former scientist and aspiring teacher I have a love of understanding the key and complex issues driving the world and explaining it to the audience in a way they can understand. I’m sure radio Leighton shares that passion.

Leighton Smith is a 40-year-old Rockhampton-based journalist

Leighton Smith on Leighton Smith

A hearty congratulations to Leighton on his accomplishments and upcoming retirement!

It’s funny, I’d say that once per month or so I have some kind of encounter based on this shared name.  As a young person people mentioned my name because a Navy Admiral in our country shared my name.  In recent years I’ve had emails about church attendance, holiday parties, credit reports, requests for small favours, and even an expression of unrealised romantic love. Each make me smile to address, though the last was most awkward and humorous.  My grandpa was John Smith and we have a number of unique names in our family designed to help us stand out with a last name like Smith. So I’ve never regretted these kinds of encounters.

I took the opportunity to learn more about Leighton some years ago after googling myself when that was a new concept. Great voice, and I liked his candid tone when I listened to a podcast back then. Fun to have learned that we both attended law school, are business people, fathers and husbands, along with other common interests I’m sure.

Leighton Smith is a 37-year-old executive and adjunct professor in finance based in Iowa City

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