This week marks the one year anniversary of The Farming Show morphing into The Country. I recall the time well as the initial changeover date was set down for last January and cut my summer holiday short by two weeks!
The plan was to start 2016 by ushering in the new show, to be broadcast on both Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB. That failed to eventuate for reasons unknown to me and a new date was set for February. Upon hearing of the delay host Jamie Mackay decided to extend his summer break and let me take over; the man's generosity knows no bounds.
The February date also proved too difficult to get off the ground, so the launch was delayed a second time. I can't recall whether March or April was touted as the new start time, but that didn't work either; in fact there may have been false starts during both months, but by that stage I had assumed to foetal position and had taken up residence in the broom cupboard.
For those unaccustomed to the New Zealand radio landscape, Radio Sport is a solid little battler in a niche market, while Newstalk ZB is the Mothership that successfully navigates the cluttered waters of a nation that is saturated with more radio stations per capita than anywhere else on earth.
It represented a major coup for Mr Mackay and the brand he set up more than two decades earlier in the rural South Island hamlet of Gore. However, the problem with moving into such coveted territory, and into the company of the exalted ZB stable, was the nervous uncertainty that surrounded the shift.
It was a widely held belief that it would only be a matter of time before these country bumpkins would cock things up, ratings would plummet and we'd be sent back down from whence we came. Edicts were issued from those higher up the food chain on what would be expected, what wouldn't be tolerated and to how to fit seamlessly into the ZB fold.
I had long since been silenced on my insolence at protesting the name change of the show. My argument was the brand was established and had become part of the furniture so to speak - it was well known. Plus I could foresee some difficult phone calls on the horizon...
"Hi, Dom here from the country".
"This country - New Zealand - we're a radio show".
"The Country radio show? Like Kenny Rogers and Hank Williams? Have I won something!?"
"No.... we used to be the Farming Show"
"Oh, the Farming Show! Why didn't you say so!?"
Jamie's argument was that it was above my pay grade.
So we forged on and May was set down as the new date. This time the relevant documents were miraculously signed off and we readied ourselves for the first show.
There was a great deal of general panic as the orders were given to tighten up, become more business-focussed and dispense with any frivolities. It sounded quite boring to me, but I stuck to my pay grade and went along with it. However, I did make a prediction and wrote it down.
In fact, I wrote it on the 17th of December 2015 along the lines of: "the more things change the more they stay the same". There was no need to panic, normal transmission would resume once the initial charade gradually dissipated.
And so it proved to be - one year on all the pretence has vanished and we're still the good old Farming Show at heart, still bickering away on air, still presenting something of a variety show with a rural bent and where the possibility of an on-air train wreck still proves a compelling reason to tune in.