"In breaking news, Campbell Live has been axed!"
It hit me a like bolt as I listened to Willie and Ali on Radio Live in the car. I was just heading up the on-ramp to the Harbour Bridge, looking west towards Watchman Island.
It's one of the great vistas of automotive Auckland. That swoop up from Herne Bay onto the bridge, that view to the Chelsea Sugar factory, it always gets me. I was just thinking about how radio has been the making of Alison Mau, and of Radio Live's afternoon session with Willie Jackson. It's now one of the best things on radio, and it owes as much to Mau getting the push from Seven Sharp as anything.
But thoughts of silver linings were still some time off. I was still in shock, even though we all knew it was probably coming. Being part of Mediaworks, Radio Live's staff are obviously careful about their outpourings over the matter, but Willie and Ali passed on respect and Mau commiserated, in advance, to the poor saps who will front the re-boot of Campbell Live.
She was there when Seven Sharp was foisted on TV One's audience who still hadn't given up on the idea of old fashioned 7pm current affairs and she, and the show, got soundly hammered for their efforts.
Twitter was to offer immediate solace, as is oft the case. TV3's David Farrier simply posted an unhappy emoticon, but others got as mad as hell, and I appreciated them for it.
Hamish Keith was reliably indignant and immediately called for a boycott of TV3.
Tributes flowed for Campbell and producer Pip Keane, I suspect many share my view that we may not see their like on prime time again.
Christchurch's king of Twitter, Philip Matthews, aka @secondzeit, had just the right movie quote waiting for just this moment: "You Maniacs! You Blew it up! Ah, God damn you all to hell."
According to a press release, Campbell "decided he wants to take a break from the job" which is to say, the job that he will be offered, not the one he has. Early warnings suggest this is to be a lighter, friendlier, Seven Sharpy version of the show.
We have lost something special with the passing of Campbell Live, and the tributes that will flow in the days to come will be testament that Campbell and his team have left a legacy that no one else has come even remotely close to achieving. What a televisual Tohunga he is.
I suspect that TV3 has said goodbye to a huge chunk of goodwill that began with Nightline back in the 1980s. I hope they don't underestimate the importance of keeping what's left of that feeling which is still to be found in the easygoing nature of Hilary Barry and Mike McRoberts. The channel is beginning to feel like a once loved suburb that is being demolished by property investors, who just want to flick it on.
I will always remember where I was when I heard the terrible news, and equally aware that a silver lining is always to be found. I'm excited about what John Campbell does next, and incredibly thankful to him for what he's already achieved. Bravo.