ZM Drive co-host Bree Tomasel gained 330,000 Facebook followers by shocking her mum in a series of video pranks. The Aussie native didn't realise the strength of trans-Tasman rivalry until moving to New Zealand.
1 How did you manage to get 330,000 Facebook followers?
I was doing breakfast radio at CFM, a coastal town north of Sydney. I had all of this content that my boss said wasn't appropriate so I started putting it out on my own page. I'd only been doing it a few months as a hobby when a video I made called Getting an Uber home sober vs Getting an Uber home drunk blew up. It got a million views in a couple of days. It was crazy. A month later I released the first video with my mum and that's when I truly knew I'd gone viral because I had to turn my phone off. It got 2 million views in 24 hours. I couldn't comprehend what was going on.
2 Why do people love seeing you shock your mum so much?
These posts showcase the 28-year relationship I've had with my mum in video form. I think that's what people connect with. I love that woman. She is my favorite person in the whole world. Our whole family love to joke and rag on each other. It can be a bit full on when we bring new partners home.
3 Do you use humour to deal with the tough stuff?
Oh God, yeah. We were all very close to my Nan, Edna, and we were all in her house when she passed away. We were all sitting there crying. Then I looked at my cousin and said 'Right. Who's naming their first girl Edna?' We all just cracked up. That is kind of how we deal with things.
4 Why did you leave your breakfast radio job in Australia?
Doing breakfast radio six days a week was not sustainable. The main reason was the station wasn't big enough to bring to life the ideas I have in my brain. I'm a crazy thinker, the sky's the limit, and their market wasn't ready for some of my more edgy ideas. ZM is able to realise my ideas like the bi-sexual Bachelor. My bosses' only concern was that we did it with integrity, in consultation with the LGBQTI community so it was about representation rather than shock value.
5 Have New Zealanders responded warmly to the fact you're Australian?
I didn't realise how big the rivalry was until I moved here. In Aussie we're kind of oblivious. I mean, we love the banter but most of the time we're so worried about what we're doing that we don't really think about New Zealand. It's kind of like the relationship between America and Canada, or Auckland and Wellington. In my first few months I'd be out at the Viaduct and people would come up and say, "I know you. You're that girl from ZM. I hated you at first but you're actually really funny, eh?" I respect that. I'm up for the challenge to show people that even though I'm Australian, I'm okay at times.
6 You were live on air when the Christchurch mosque massacres happened.
What was that like?
It was the single-most hardest radio show I've ever done. We'd had word at 2pm that something was happening but we were only starting to realise the magnitude when our show began at 3pm. Information unfolded while we were on air. Our producers were taking calls from people who were in amongst this absolutely horrific thing. I remember saying to Clint, 'Our job is to report the facts. We should only report things that have been 100 percent confirmed so that it doesn't create additional panic'. I'm really proud of how our team responded. It's in moments like that you realise how powerful radio is.
7 How were you after the show ended?
I asked one of my best mates to come home with me because I didn't want to be by myself. It was such a heavy feeling. When you're on air you're full of adrenaline, doing everything you can to provide information that will help your listeners. It's not till afterwards that you can start dealing with your own emotions. I got home, sat down and just started crying.
8 You support quite a few charities such as breast cancer. Which is closest to your heart?
I'm most passionate about mental health, be it depression, suicide, anxiety or bipolar disorder. There's so much stigma around mental health. It's time we stop shoving it away like it's something to be ashamed of. My family has been affected by suicide. It's something you never recover from but you learn how to deal with. I try to use my voice to create awareness. Laughter is the way I probably help most. The best part about working in radio is that I have a platform every day where I can hopefully bring a bit of light to someone's life.
9 Growing up on an apple orchard in a country town in Queensland, did you always want to work in radio?
No, my sights were on elite sport. I played for my state in soccer, high jump and long jump and for Australia in under 19 softball. I was always the class clown but I didn't realise how much I loved drama until I broke three vertebrates in my back at 16 and had to spend a year in rehabilitation. I came back for the next state titles but by 20 with several serious injuries I realised I couldn't do sport forever so I switched to PR and journalism.
10 What's been your most spectacular failure lately?
About six months ago I was on a flight a couple of seats back from Jacinda Ardern. I was gassy and accidentally farted so I told a joke about that on the radio. When Jacinda came in for a chat recently I thought it would be funny if I apologised to her. Look, it didn't go down all that well. She was very gracious about it. She kind of laughed and said, 'You know, it happens, I feel your pain' but I knew deep in my soul that it had crashed and burned. You win some, you lose some.
11 Have you always loved a good fart joke?
I have. If I have to fart for all woman-kind, I will. I filmed myself farting in front of friends and family and put their reactions in a compilation video which has got 1.5 million views. People think it's hilarious and if they don't that's fine. My ZM co-host Clint knows I'm a notorious farter so I pulled a prank on him with some fake fart spray. It smelt so horrific he thought I'd actually s*** myself. People loved that video.
12 How do you cope with negative feedback on social media?
I rarely get bad feedback on my Facebook page; people who follow me know what they're going to get. I learnt not to read comments when my videos got picked up by Unilad and LadBible. I don't mind criticism but there are some very disturbed, sad people out there. There's also some really funny nasty stuff. My favourite was: 'This girl looks like Cara Delevingne, if Cara Delevingne was homeless and on meth'. She is a Victoria's Secret model so I decided to take that compliment and run with it.