Being back on the airwaves in Tauranga is like coming home for Mix radio star Mel Homer, who started her radio career in the Bay by literally getting a foot in the door when she sent her CV off together with her shoe.
That was back in the 90s at Classic Hits, and Homer is now a household name on television and radio as host of Mix radio.
After a huge success in Auckland, Mix is now looking to take the Bay by storm too and has just gone live on 99FM. Mix is led by Mel Homer, who features info on music, interviews with the latest sports and TV stars, food, technology, movies and up-coming events.
Homer says she discovered her love of radio "by accident" when she moved to the Bay to be with a then boyfriend, and got a job as a sales rep.
"Turns out I'm not cut out for selling — I lacked the art of closing the deal. A job came up at Classic Hits as their promotions manager. I had no experience but figured it was right up my alley. I sent them one shoe with my CV and a note that said 'just wanted to get a foot in the door'."
The shoe fitted.
"It worked, I got the job."
When she was asked if she was up to be Breakfast show producer, even though she had not done it before, she said, "Sure thing! No prob! Right then, let's give it a go!"
She ended up producing the breakfast show for Brian Kelly on Classic Hits. When his co-host left, they gave her a shot at being on air and she never looked back.
Homer says she couldn't have hoped for a better start than with Kelly, known in the Bay as BK, who is also back on the Bay airwaves as breakfast host of Coast.
The pair remain friends and last year competed together in the Round Taupo bike race.
"You don't get a better grounding in radio than working with BK. He is an absolute master of the airwaves!"
She not only found her feet in radio but fell in love too, when she met husband Andy Pilcher, a sailmaker, at Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat club.
"I met him at the Tauranga Yacht and Powerboat Club. I spent a lot of time there. In fact I represented Tauranga in Women's Match Racing."
The couple ended up getting engaged in the Bay, and got married in her parents' garden in Pyes Pa.
"We were living in Hong Kong at the time, and getting married in mum and dad's garden was the most wonderful experience. The reception was at the yacht club."
Her father passed away a few years ago, and Homer cherishes time "hanging with mum" in the Bay.
"Mum still lives in Pyes Pa. I get down as much as I can, it's just such a beautiful spot and I can't imagine her leaving in a hurry. She lives on quite a big property and has a cottage for her creative endeavours."
Now with three boys — Jesse, 17, Finn, 14, and Tom, 11 — the couple like to holiday here. "I get down to the Bay as much as I can. I love hanging out with my mum, climbing the Mount, going bush walking on her property with the kids. We always go berry picking in summer at Somerfields in Oropi."
Being a busy working mum has its challenges, with Homer not only at the helm of Mix, but also hosting TV show The Cafe.
"My radio work has always involved early mornings, and when I threw a daily TV programme into the mix a couple of years ago things got really hectic. I'm constantly running late, and I have to write lists. A lot of lists! I also have a very hands-on husband who is a great cook, and he's always been there in the early mornings to get the kids off to school. I take over for the after school running around."
The struggle of the juggle is something her listeners and fans relate to as they tune in in the mornings, and Homer mixes up the uplifting playlist with her blend of entertaining content about fashion, food, and a little bit of gossip — the perfect morning mix for busy listeners.
"I am so excited about being back on air in the Bay. I love the Bay of Plenty and I can't wait to hear from listeners. I'm the only voice on the station so there is heaps of great music, but also great interviews and features. It's something quite different. I really think the Bay is going to love it."
With the stream of Aucklanders moving here, Homer is not ruling out the possibility of joining them. "I would love to move back to the Bay. At the moment my work and my husband's keeps us in Auckland, but never say never!"
Mix is now available in Tauranga, on 99FM. The Mix playlist of classic "bangers" from the 70s, 80s and 90s has been a real audience success story for NZME, in other regional locations such as Northland and Nelson, that is now set to replicate in Tauranga. Mix was the station best served to be in the area to reflect the local demographic and their interests. Mix is led by Mel Homer, who features information on music, interviews with sports and TV stars, and talks about food, technology, movies and up-coming events.