Roast Busters: RadioLive hosts taken off air

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere. File photo / APN
Willie Jackson and John Tamihere. File photo / APN

Willie Jackson and John Tamihere will be off air after today, while another RadioLive host has publicly apologised for comments made to a woman who said she was raped as a 14-year-old..

Jackson and Tamihere have announced on air that today's will be their last show for the year.

On the show, Mr Tamihere said they would be taking the next few weeks to review what happened last week with management and agree what action needs to be taken.

"We do not condone rape in any way and did not intend to blame the victims.

"Rape is a terrible crime and the victims who come forward deserve support and respect.''

The pair said they "deeply regret" the comments they made last week in an interview with Amy, the 18-year-old friend of a Roast Busters victim.

They also said they regret the impact their actions had on their wives, children, grandchildren and communities.

MediaWorks Radio Chief Executive Belinda Mulgrew said the company would continue to review the situation.

"We apologise unreservedly for any offence or distress caused to listeners, clients or others by Willie and JT's interview with Amy."

MediaWorks said because it was an employment matter it was unable to answer further questions.

However, when asked why it took so long to take the hosts off air, spokeswoman Rachel Lorimer said the announcement was made today, not the decision.

She would not say whether the hosts would be paid while they were off air.

MediaWorks also didn't respond to questions on whether the link between Mr Tamihere and alleged Roast Buster Joseph Parker's stepfather played a role in the decision, or whether that link had been disclosed by Mr Tamihere before it was revealed in the media yesterday.

Ms Lorimer said RadioLive had received complaints from listeners over the `Amy' interview or Matthew Hooton walk-out, but it was not policy to reveal how many or other details while the complaints process was underway.

Fagan 'got it so wrong'

Another RadioLive host has also publicly apologised for comments made to a woman who said she was raped as a 14-year-old.

The caller, known as Elle, rang the station's night-time show on Monday last week, and told hosts Andrew Fagan and wife Karyn Hay she lost her virginity after consuming alcohol given to her by a boy she met after school. Elle, aged 14 at the time, told the pair she had fancied the boy.

She also said it had been the first time she had drunk alcohol, and that she woke up realising she had lost her virginity. Fagan's reply was to ask if it had been consensual.

"Did you not hear what I just said?" Elle replied, to which Fagan said: "Yes, but you said you fancied him."

The woman described the incident as a "horrible moment" that she had had to live with all her life.

In an open letter published on the RadioLive site today, Fagan apologised for the phone call saying he "got it so wrong".

He also detailed a fight prior to the Monday night show between himself and his wife regarding his attitude. The argument ended with Fagan being booted out of the car and forced to walk in the rain to work, he stated.

"I would like to explain to the best of my ability what happened regarding the phone call to RadioLIVE last week between me and Elle, and how I got it so wrong," Fagan's letter stated.

"I arrived in the studio exactly one minute before we went on air, extremely annoyed at having been left on the side of the road and when Elle called I was still so wrapped up in what had occurred I was simply not listening and I did not hear what she said. I realise, listening back, that my challenging of her in that context was obnoxious and hurtful.

"When Elle asked me, 'Did you not hear what I just said?' the answer should have been 'No, I didn't'. Whether it was 'consensual' or she 'fancied him' was completely irrelevant given I did not have it in context, i.e. she was phoning us to say she had been raped at 14 and she had only ever had a sip of one shandy before that, and he gave her a bottle of 750 ml beer. Major points I just happened to miss.

"It is absolutely no excuse, but it is the truth of what happened. I am not blaming the argument with Karyn for this, but trying to give a truthful explanation for my aberrant behaviour."

Fagan said he completely understood arguments behind "victim blaming".

"As a co-host on RadioLIVE I will try to address those attitudes that I wittingly (because it came out of my own mouth) appear to have fostered," the letter stated.

He also apologised to Elle.

Advertising reaction

Matthew Hooton tweeted that it was cool that advertisers don't like RadioLive, "But until they each give $10k to http://rpe.co.nz [Rape Prevention Education] they are just spinning.''

Telecom, one of the advertisers to have pulled its ads off RadioLive in the meantime, responded with ''@MatthewHootonNZ Challenge met, Matthew - we'll contribute $10k. Great to see some good coming out of this. ^TRF''

Mr Hooton could not be reached for comment, but he tweeted his congratulations to blogger Giovanni Tiso, saying: "Congrats @gtiso. Achieved objective in less than a week! Want a job?''

Mr Tiso said he thought RadioLive had made the right decision to take the hosts off air.

"The position had become untenable,'' he said.

"The show was becoming a little bit weird and very awkward without ads.

"They were under close scrutiny with what they said.''

He said the public reaction made it very clear that their statements were not acceptable.

But Mr Tiso downplayed his role in bringing about an advertiser boycott of the Willie & JT show.

Mr Tiso wrote to advertisers on the show and posted their responses on Twitter.

"It's a bit silly that I ended up being the face of it because I played a very small role,'' he said.

"The pressure that I put onto them to actually pull out was minimal.

"I think what happened is they realised what the public opinion behind all this was.''

Matt McCarten, who was a guest on the show with Mr Hooton, also could not be reached for comment.

Companies that pulled their advertising from RadioLive in the wake of the hosts' comments are keeping their ads off the station for the time being, including Vodafone, Telecom and Countdown.

However, an ANZ spokesman signalled the bank could resume advertising on the station.

"We're happy to discuss resuming advertising with RadioLive,'' he said.

A Vodafone spokeswoman said it was "too soon'' to say whether the company would renew its advertising with RadioLive.

"We're just going to sit tight and we will keep our advertising off that station for the foreseeable future.''

Telecom was also keeping its ads off RadioLive while it considered its next steps, a spokeswoman said.

"We will be reviewing our decision in light of that development,'' she added.

Countdown said last week's events were very disappointing, and withdrawing its advertising from RadioLive was the right thing to do.

"We don't have any other advertising planned at this stage, and the radio station will no doubt need to work through the issues highlighted over the last week, including some further discussion with advertisers,'' a spokeswoman said.

Directory company Yellow said they would reconsider next year whether to resume advertising with RadioLive.

Company chief executive Chris Armistead said the company's three-month advertising campaign with the station had been suspended.

It would reassess next year whether to resume advertising with the station, he said.

Briscoes' managing director Rod Duke did not wish to comment but added it was "under constant review''.

"But right at this particular point in time, we've made no decisions.''

Clothing retailer Shanton confirmed today it was also pulling its advertising from RadioLive until further notice.

"Shanton Fashions Ltd is a strong advocate of women's rights and we cannot condone unacceptable behaviours and comments by these presenters.''

A spokeswoman said nothing had changed after the hosts' announcement today.

Last week, Freeview had asked for its ads to be pulled from the show and played during other timeslots on RadioLive.

Freeview general manager Sam Irvine said it would consider returning its ads to the timeslot.

"I think if the content that's in that show is reflective of what Freeview is and our brand values, then we'd be happy to advertise in that slot again.''

The noon-3pm show on RadioLIVE will run without advertising for the rest of this week and an announcement regarding a replacement host will be made "in due course".

Other Twitter reaction:

Dave Dobbyn: "How about off air for good? Send them to primary school for the education they obviously missed. Dumber & Dumber.''

Michael Koziarski: "Anyone know what Willie Jackson and John Tamihere were wearing when they got fired? It's possible that was the reason they got fired?''

Martyn Bradbury: "Hey @LIVENewsDesk - show you're really apologetic re Willie & JT and replace them for the rest of the year with Sue Bradford & Annette Sykes''

Anna B-W: ''@RadioLIVENZ currently have 14 male hosts to three female hosts. Replacing Willie and JT with a couple of ladies would be a good start.''

The full statement from Willie Jackson and John Tamihere:

This will be our last show on RadioLIVE for this year.

We will be taking the next few weeks to review what happened last week with the management here, and agree what action needs to be taken.

We do not condone rape in any way and did not intend to blame the victims. Rape is a terrible crime and the victims who come forward deserve support and respect.

We deeply regret the comments we made last week and the upset they caused so many people.

We also want to apologise to the clients of RadioLIVE who've had to deal with negative feedback to their businesses because they advertise in our show.

Closer to home, we regret the impact this has had on our wives, children, grandchildren and communities. We also apologise to the staff at RadioLIVE and throughout the MediaWorks whanau who have had to deal with the fallout.

RadioLIVE will update you on our discussions and plans as is appropriate.

As this will be our last time on the radio this year, we wish you and your families a safe and happy Christmas and send our aroha to you all.

- APNZ

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