Nicholas Jones is a New Zealand Herald political reporter.

Veitch given Deaker's radio spot

Broadcaster wants to make 'every second count' of his second chance.

Tony Veitch.
Tony Veitch.

It is the job Tony Veitch has always wanted.

And, now that he's got it, Veitch says it will mean as much to those who stood by him during darker days as it does to him.

"I'm absolutely stoked for my family, because they've obviously been through an incredibly rough ride with everything that has happened," says Veitch who is today announced as Murray Deaker's replacement on Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport when the veteran broadcaster retires at the end of the year.

"When I told them about this being confirmed, both my mum and my dad were really emotional about it. I've always wanted to get back, and I couldn't let go of my job."

Veitch, 40, succeeds Deaker, New Zealand's pre-eminent radio sports broadcaster, who called time on a career of more than 20 years.

Veitch told the Herald that stepping into Deaker's "giant" shoes is the continuation of a second chance, after it was revealed he had physically abused a partner in 2006.

"It has been quite a remarkable four or five years for me ... a lot of people have asked me why I didn't run away, and why I didn't take off to Australia where I grew up.

"My mum used to get really upset. She lives in Australia, and she would ring me quite often and say, 'Tony, I don't think you should stay in the media, it's not good for your mental health', and all of that.

"But at the end of it, it's all I know. So I wouldn't have been able to do anything else, I love it too much ... I love sport, I love being a journalist, I love interviewing people."

The real mental hurdle came when he first returned to radio, Veitch says.

Deaker was a mentor during that time, and support also came in the form of comments on his show's Facebook page.

"I can't begin to explain how incredible those guys have been, those punters, when I first started up that Facebook page - which was a massive risk for me - but the reaction I get now from people who just want to debate sport is amazing."

The workload and pressures at times took its toll on Deaker, but Veitch is unconcerned. "People who know me through the industry will know my biggest asset, probably my stepfather gave it to me, is I have a work ethic that I think nobody else has, in my humble opinion.

"... given the fact that I've had a second chance here, I'm even more realistic about the fact that I have to make every second of this count, which I'm doing.

He says a focus of his work is the stories of sports people and moments - far more compelling to listeners than debate around scrum laws or updates on torn hamstrings.

"I had Andrew Johns talking about depression, which has had a massive impact on me ... it wasn't about Andrew Johns scoring tries or beating the Warriors, it was about how he felt on those days when he couldn't actually front up to play a game of rugby league.

"That's the reaction I loved from that interview ... people heard a fallible human being talking about how tough life could be when you're at the top of your game."


* Tony Veitch will replace veteran broadcaster Murray Deaker when he retires from his Newstalk ZB and Radio Sport programmes.

* Veitch to continue to host his Saturday programme which will be called Veitch on Sport, and pick up Deaker's Sunday show.

* Both programmes run from 12pm to 6pm on Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB.

* The final show of Deaker on Sport screened last month on Sky.

- NZ Herald

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