The Diary

Rachel Glucina looks at the top events and newsmakers of the day.

The Diary: Hauraki bash tribute to Blackie

Revamped station celebrates relaunch with big-name DJ.

Turntablist Mix Master Mike, aka Michael Schwartz, is a special guest at the Hauraki party to honour Kevin Black.
Turntablist Mix Master Mike, aka Michael Schwartz, is a special guest at the Hauraki party to honour Kevin Black.

As Radio Hauraki pays special tribute to former DJ Kevin Black, who ruled its airwaves for many years, plans are proceeding for a private party in Ponsonby tonight for the station with special guest Mix Master Mike, a contributing member of the Beastie Boys.

The 43-year-old American turntablist flew in from Los Angeles yesterday on a whistle-stop trip to celebrate Hauraki's revamped station. He will hit the decks with Mikey Havoc, Hauraki's night host, in front of 400 invited guests.

"It's going to be a great party," Havoc told The Diary.

"Mike is an innovative DJ who will play anything. He's into hip-hop, metal, electro, you name it.

"I've been lucky enough to DJ with a few big names, like the Chemical Brothers. It's sort of intimidating, but really exciting, too.

"But it's going to be cool to play at the same party as Mike. I mean, no pressure or anything, playing before one of the greatest DJs in the world!" Havoc laughed.

The party tonight is a belated celebration. In an attempt to rebrand the station and gain new listeners, Hauraki relaunched in January and unveiled a new line-up of shows and hosts, including Havoc, Martin Devlin, Laura McGoldrick and Matt Heath.

Securing the legendary turntablist is a coup for Hauraki, said station manager Mike McClung. "Our key business partners will see a rejuvenated Radio Hauraki at the launch [tonight]. The feedback the station has received so far has been great, and we're looking forward to celebrating with Mix Master Mike."

Hauraki has a New Zealand software company to thank. Mix Master Mike (born Michael Schwartz) is aligned with Serato, an innovative Kiwi audio production company that creates software for professional DJs and musicians.

Havoc says the party, much like his new radio show, is a nod to music. "We're experimenting with the music, we're letting it flow organically. We've redefined what rock is and we're redefining what the station is."

Black, Havoc says, was legendary but of a different era. The station has changed and evolved in form since then, but it's still about the music.

"Blackie was a legend on air, and more importantly, a really nice guy off it.

"If there's one thing to be reminded of since his passing, and that of Paul Holmes, it's that you can be really talented and a nice guy too. They weren't dicks, like a lot of guys in radio."

Exes to do public battle

TV3's Duncan Garner will go head-to-head against his ex-partner in the current affairs arena and is offering information to interviewees on how to get one over her.

"I've been on the end of some of Mihi's inquisitions and haven't done that well. I'm happy to offer free advice on how to take her on," he laughed with The Diary.

Former TV3 reporter Mihingarangi Forbes, who moved to Maori Television last year, will present the network's current affairs show Native Affairs from March 11. She replaces former host Julian Wilcox, who has been promoted to the role of general manager of news and current affairs.

Garner, who has two daughters with Forbes, will host TV3's 3rd Degree on Wednesday nights from next month and The Vote, a monthly national referendum debate, with bestie Guyon Espiner. Mihi won't trade spars with her ex. She says she's just excited about Native Affairs.

"I'm focusing on that at the moment."

Venting over Seven Sharp

The public flagellation of Seven Sharp continues unabated with critics venting and viewers voicing opinions via their remotes and switching off. Well-informed insiders say an external consultant at TVNZ is advising that Seven Sharp shuts down and the network starts again and reinvents their daily current affairs offering.

But TVNZ has invested too much in this current affairs proposition to walk away so soon, red-faced. Too much is at stake. Reputations are on the line. Managers and staff responsible for the show are, understandably, panicked at the reaction the show has received.

The presenters, too, a high-placed TVNZ source confided, are struggling with being unpopular. "It's a new situation for Ali and Greg," the mole said. "They are usually well-liked and admired."

Seven Sharp may be light on stories, but it's heavy on staff. How many producers does it take to produce a current affairs flop? Ten, apparently. That includes three "creative producers" tasked with coming up with scripted comedy content. And that's not counting the (highly paid) drollness of co-anchor Jesse Mulligan.

Laughter and mirth, incidentally, was not heard bellowing from the offices of TVNZ management last week when unprecedented rating wins went to their rival.

The Campbell Live camp was chortling. And who can blame them?

All this emphasis on Seven Sharp and Campbell Live is welcome news for TV3's new current affairs show, 3rd Degree, which is quietly preparing for its premiere on March 6 without the judgmental glare of the spotlight.

The network is labelling it "a new approach to current affairs", but that's what TVNZ says about Seven Sharp.

Promotional material has been shot and the team are undergoing rehearsals. An insider for 3rd Degree said stories are being closely guarded until the launch. "Everyone is working flat-out on great stories, but the line-up for the first episode has yet to be finalised - we're a bit spoilt for choice."

Will the critics be willing to devote column inches to 3rd Degree? Will viewers be vocal? TV3 will hope so, sort of. The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

- NZ Herald

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