With a new contract signed and sealed, the country's favourite larrikin, Mikey Havoc, is gearing up for a radio comeback on Hauraki's night show on Monday - but don't suggest he's selling out to commercial radio.
"Oddly enough, no one has made a joke about selling out," he laughs. "At bFM there were no resources and money but tons of creative licence," he told The Diary.
Havoc walked away from the student radio station in 2010 after 16 years on air. "It was a conscious decision after bFM not to do just anything. But there was no obvious next step for me after bFM."
These days, he appears more happy and humble. "One-and-a-half years unemployed will do that to you," he chortles in his no-nonsense fashion.
He filled in occasionally on a late-night talkback show, then Radio Hauraki came knocking with big coffers and a bigger pedigree.
Hauraki and its parent company, The Radio Network, courted Havoc, inviting him to be part of a dynamic new line-up designed to overhaul the pirate brand and dominate market share. Havoc will follow Matt Heath on drive and Martin Devlin on the morning show.
"They want me to be me," Havoc says excitedly. "They are offering me a lot more freedom than I expected and it was wonderful to be asked to be part of the station's next step.
"It'll be the first time I've worked on a music radio show that goes nationwide. I like the idea that radio can unite people across the country."
Traditionally in New Zealand, night shows on radio play a back seat to the more high-profile morning and afternoon shows, but Hauraki plans to change that. Its late-night audience is crucial too. "The breakfast and drive slots were already filled. But, to be honest, the late slot is quite challenging. Overseas it's a bigger deal," Havoc said.
Hauraki is relying on Havoc's music experience to reinvigorate the station. "They're interested in my musical input and I'm a part of the decision-making process. It's a rare privilege and I'm flattered."
He is staying quiet about his personal life - Havoc split from his wife, former Shortland Street actor Claire Chitham, three years ago - but admits he'd love a return to television some day.
"I've got lots of ideas for shows. TV here is crying out for interesting stuff. There are lots of New Zealanders who don't see themselves reflected on TV. I mean, if you're 20, who do you look up to? Shortland Street?! I miss working with Jeremy [Wells]."
For now, he's focusing on his part-time gig as a dance music DJ and his role at Hauraki, where rock music dominates. "I feel anxious. I just want to get going. I've barely slept in the last three days - there's panic and ideas just tumbling out of me."
A FASHION TRIBUTE
Kiwi fashion house World joined a swag of international labels this week to pay tribute to iconic Italian fashion writer Anna Piaggi, who died aged 81.
Owners Francis Hooper and Denise L'Estrange-Corbet remembered a vibrant Piaggi, who gushed about their first fashion show 15 years ago.
"She came backstage to congratulate Francis and me at our first show in Sydney in 1997. She said it was the best show of the week - and the only one she had not fallen asleep at," L'Estrange-Corbet told The Diary.
Piaggi, sporting her trademark blue rinse, posed with the fashion couple and their daughter Pebbles - then a very excited 7-year-old.
OMINOUS WARNING FOR HENRY
Aussie import Paul Henry may have toasted his birthday last week, but his Channel Ten boss is not in a celebratory mood just yet. Chief executive James Warburton has denied suggestions the network is forced to commit to Henry because cutting him loose from his contract would be too expensive. He also said Breakfast's survival could not be guaranteed if it failed to deliver.
"Speculation about Paul Henry's contract and salary, and the claim Breakfast is somehow a protected species at Ten, are way off the mark," Warburton told the Sunday Telegraph.
Breakfast has had another reinvention following a recent make-or-break meeting with staff. The show now has two additional presenters, a stronger focus on news and a shorter timeslot - lopping 30 minutes off the schedule.
The plan is to increase the value of their advertising space and cash in on the lucrative breakfast TV advertising market, which is said to be worth more than A$100 million ($130 million).
Meanwhile, Henry, who copped flak this week from gay groups after he labelled Hollywood actor Jeremy Renner a "nancy boy", will appear on our screens tonight hosting Would I Lie To You? The show has moved from primetime Sunday to the adult-hour of 9.30pm Friday for a six-week run.
Expect risque commentary and more face time from Henry, who is said to have been displeased his role was upstaged by team captains Jesse Mulligan and Jon Bridges, who had better punch lines.
AUSSIES LEFT OFF GUEST LIST
Last night's tribute dinner for Sir Graham Henry at the Langham Hotel was always going to be a sophisticated affair. So, it was just as well the Aussie rugby team were not on the guest list. The Wallabies are seething after the ex-All Black coach called Kiwi-born Quade Cooper (pictured) the "glaring weakness" in last year's Australian World Cup squad. Cooper didn't retaliate to the taunt made by Henry in his controversial book. Robbie Deans reckons he hasn't read the book, but teammates say getting Henry's blessing was never high on their agenda.By Rachel Glucina @RachelGlucinaNZ