TVNZ Breakfast star Matty McLean is leaving the show to join radio, pairing up with former ZM star Polly “PJ” Harding to be the new hosts of The Hits drive show in 2024.
A tearful McLean told Breakfast viewers this morning that he was leaving his “dream job” after seven years. He has been with TVNZ for a total of 16 years.
“I’ve been offered a wonderful new job outside of TVNZ, which we’ll hear more about shortly. I’m really excited but also very sad to be leaving this team who I adore and you are a wonderful, incredible, beautiful, brilliant audience.
“You’ve still got me for another month until our last show for the year. But before then, thank you for embracing me, for encouraging me and for giving me the happiest seven years of my life,” he said, choking up, and brushing his eye.
In an official media release, McLean said: “Finally this face-for-radio is where it belongs! I’m so excited to be joining The Hits in 2024 with PJ.
“She’s an absolute radio legend and has been a great friend of mine for years - we’ve even filled in together on air in the past. So, to get the chance to hang out with one of the funniest, unfiltered people in broadcasting every day is a dream come true. This is going to be fun. Bring on 2024!”
McLean said a phone call from the then head of Breakfast, Jono Williams, seven years ago changed his life - to be the show’s weather presenter.
“In the seven years since then, I’ve travelled the length of the country and indeed to parts of the world with this job. I’ve met some phenomenal people. Truly, my favourite part of this job has been interacting with you, our incredible viewers.”
He said a lot had happened in those seven years.
“But like all great adventures, there comes a time when you need to bring it to an end in order to begin a new one and so, yes, this will be my last year on Breakfast.”
Harding, best known in New Zealand as host of ZM’s drive show between 2015 and 2018, before moving to Australia to co-host KIIS FM’s breakfast show in Melbourne, said she was “stoked” to be back with NZME - the place where her radio career began as a ZM intern in 2011.
“I feel a bit like I’m returning home! And I’m really looking forward to joining Matty and The Hits team in the new year. It’s an awesome station that plays great music and I can’t wait to be back on New Zealand’s airwaves on The Hits,” she said.
She told her Instagram followers this morning that she did not know if she would return to radio again after leaving Melbourne in 2021.
“I knew if I did return it HAD to feel right. Flash forward a few years and I tell ya what, radio is a drug and it pulls you back in. Taking time out has been blissful but also made me realise what I missed about it and how it’s been such a big part of my life since leaving school.
“The vibrant energy, the live unpredictability, the opportunity to connect with like-minded souls and a platform to be vulnerable and realise you’re not alone (extra relevant for a weirdo like me)... I am SO excited for the next chapter kicking off next year.”
She described McLean as an “absolute consummate professional but also so endearing, loveable, intelligent and hard-working plus just so genuinely fun”.
She said she was feeling “VERY privileged” but also “shit scared and beyond excited all in one! Bring on 2024″.
Their signings are a significant move for NZME, which made no secret at its investor day last week of its focus on growing its Hits and Coast radio audiences. In McLean and Harding, the media firm also adds to its roster two more bankable stars as it expands further into digital audio and podcasting.
Harding left KIIS FM in June 2021.
“It’s been a very hard decision to make, probably one of the hardest to make in my life, but at the same time I know it couldn’t be the more right decision for where I’m at,” Harding told her Australian listeners in March 2021.
She said at the time that 2020 had been “incredibly challenging”.
“At the end of 2019 I lost my father and being here doing the show was hard enough,” she said. “Bring on 2020, [I was] doing a long distance relationship, my partner was back home, and I didn’t know when I was going to see him.
“Last year was hard, but last year was hard for everyone. It really made me have a cold, hard look in the mirror and work out what I want to do and that is why I’ve come to the very challenging decision that I’m going to be finishing up with the show and going home to New Zealand and living with my fiance.”
McLean and Harding will replace Laura McGoldrick and Brad Watson.
McGoldrick finished up last month, having made the call to resign so she could spend more time with her young children, Harley and Teddy.
“My daughter’s at school now. Part of me is sure I was born to be a dance mum and I feel like [afternoons are] quite a crucial time of day for the kids. The morning is such a rush and I’m not sure I’m my best mum self then,” she told Media Insider.
She has the radio bug and said she would be returning at some stage “for sure”, continuing to be heard through the NZME network next year.
NZME chief content officer music brands Mike McClung said he was thrilled with the new appointments.
“PJ and Matty are both incredibly talented, award-winning broadcasters who ooze the X factor. Together they’re going to be a formidable duo. We’re really pleased to have them on board at The Hits to complement our fantastic line-up of hosts including Jono Pryor & Ben Boyce, Megan Papas, and our talented presenters in regions across New Zealand.”
NZME announced last week that Papas would join Jono & Ben on the breakfast show in January.
It also announced today that current Wellington daytime host Hayley Bath would take over the Auckland daytime show.
NZME CEO Michael Boggs says the appointments spoke to NZME’s focus on having the most loved and listened to content.
“I’m confident that 2024 is going to be a fantastic year for NZME and for our radio and digital audio business in particular. Supported by a hugely talented group of people on air, we will continue to increase our listener numbers, deliver revenue growth, inform and entertain our audiences, and provide the very best commercial opportunities for our customers,” says Boggs.
- Editor-at-Large Shayne Currie is one of New Zealand’s most experienced senior journalists and media leaders. He has held executive and senior editorial roles at NZME including Managing Editor, NZ Herald Editor and Herald on Sunday Editor and has a small shareholding in NZME.