Radio host and cafe owner Megan Papas presents a new TV show called Glow Up. She talks about the backlash after her marriage break-up and relationship with a pop star ten years younger.
1 How did you make your break in radio, 15 years ago?
I got my first break on air at Flava, doing Breakfast with Dave Fane and Pete the Palagi while Stacey Morrison was on maternity leave. I'd been working in technical production, making ads and was the station voice of Flava. I don't know why but bless them, they took a punt on me. I was 20, with no on air experience . I didn't pretend to be anyone I wasn't, and everyone was so welcoming.
2 You made your name at The Edge with Fletch and Vaughan. Why did you switch networks?
I got a job as their producer, which is the toughest, most horrible job in the world. Producers put together the content, get the DJs anything they need and wrangle the big egos. It's all responsibility and no glory. But then I started talking with them on air more and more, and despite how annoying they can be, I loved it, and now they're like my brothers.
3 Does it takes a certain personality type to be a radio host?
People expect DJs to be really outgoing and great with people but in reality many are introverts who hate public speaking. Vaughan struggles with crowds the most - he has agoraphobia, which he talks about on air. Most of our job is just sitting in the studio with our mates talking rubbish. Half the time we forget that anyone's even listening.
4 When was your hardest time in radio?
When I got a divorce. I was on air when I married at 25 so when we broke up I thought, "Oh no, am I going to have to talk about this on the radio?" I didn't even know how to tell my parents. I put up a big front that the marriage was OK and I was happy. Had I let people in more, it wouldn't have come as such a shock. I don't talk too much about my emotions; I'm stunted like that. Then I started a relationship with a man 10 years younger than me. That doesn't go down well with the public, I can tell you. It was a real shit storm. I honestly don't know how I got through it.
5 Did you feel like you'd failed?
I knew that ending my marriage was the right thing to do. It was everyone else's opinions that were hard. My parents are from a Christian background and believe in marriage but there's a difference between trying hard to make it work and just knowing that after 10 years together, you've grown apart. And then the whole 10-year age gap thing; I got called a cradle snatcher and all sorts. Andrew (Papas) has always been an old man in a young person's body. He makes terrible dad jokes, loves a cup of tea and just wants to stay at home and watch TV. I'm really stupid and immature, so we meet in the middle.
6 How do you respond to nasty comments?
I went to counselling to talk it through. I learnt that people's opinions are not something that I can change, so I just have to let it go. I learnt some breathing exercises and promised myself to be more forgiving of people's baggage. We all make mistakes. People are flawed - we can only learn and grow. It is hard being female on the radio. The guys can say things I never could. Anytime I voice an outspoken opinion, I get some full-on responses. One person recently said I would be the downfall of this country and how do I get by in life? Man, that ruined my day.
7 What was your childhood in Nelson like?
Our family spent our holidays at a naturist park, so I grew up knowing that bodies came in all shapes and sizes. I didn't learn that people were 'supposed' to be ashamed of their bodies till later. At schooI I was really into sports; netball and rowing, which had the best camps. Man, some debauchery happened. Dad would be horrified. Then I did roller derby because it looked like so much fun. I took some big hits but no serious injuries.
8 You often endorse products on Instagram. Do you consider yourself a social media influencer?
I hate that word, but I get that if you align yourself with something, you're influencing what people buy so I consider the offers from my agent seriously. I've turned a few down; I won't promote anything that tells women they're not good enough, like slimming products. I do love makeup and playing dress-ups - it's how I like to express myself. It's a creative thing. I'm hosting a new TVNZ show called Glow Up which is like Project Runway for makeup artists.
9 Which famous person would you most like to meet?
The Weeknd - I'd die if I met him, and Emma Watson. I'd be like, "I love everything you stand for and the way you carry yourself." I respect the fact she puts herself out there on issues like women's rights and sustainability and responds so eloquently and calmly when people give her shit. It's like water off a ducks back.
10 Are you a feminist?
Yes. Feminism just means equal rights between the genders. But as soon as you say that women are not equal, instead of pausing and saying, "Ok, why do you think that? What's happened to you? How can I help?" they take it as a personal attack. The guard goes up and they just want to tear you down. If someone feels like they're marginalised you can't just say, "No you're not" because that's their experience.
11 When are you happiest?
When I'm hanging out with my husband and our dog Leo. We try to spend all our downtime together, even though we work together in our café in Albany. People predicted that would be a struggle, but we work together so well. He's very business-minded and list orientated, whereas I'm creative and all over the place. He copes with stress way better; I'm a nightmare. I'll go quiet initially and not tell anyone what my problem is until I reach boiling point and then I'll explode and tell everyone exactly what my problem is.
12 Why did you open a café together nine months ago?
We always thought it would be a fun thing to create together one day. I love cooking. Andrew's family has a catering background. He's an insanely good baker – makes croissants from scratch. When this shop came up at a price we could afford, we decided to just do it. It's hard and draining but then you have those rewarding moments that make you go, "We made this." We've got lots of ideas for other projects we want to work on next.