On Friday, I questioned the lack of diversity in prime time radio - and the fact that we have six shows that are all hosted by men with the exception of one programme, which is co-hosted by Susie Ferguson. She is the sole female voice in prime time radio.

It creates a near-monopoly of male broadcasters who are shaping our perspectives, directing the course of interviews, setting the news agenda and, ultimately, influencing our opinions and point of views.

The six men are Guyon Espiner, Duncan Garner, John Campbell, Paul Henry, Larry Williams and Mike Hosking. I have worked with all of them, to varying degrees. Each and every one is a brilliant broadcaster. That is not in question. It never was.

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But my position on Friday - and it's the same position today - is that New Zealand society isn't straight, white and male. So prime time radio, which achieves the greatest audiences, should not be straight, white and male either. It must reflect diversity of perspective, gender and culture.

This is not a witch hunt. It's just a conversation. How did we get here? And how might we change it, in future? The best person should always get the job - a quota would be abhorrent.

My boss, Jane Hastings is up for the conversation. She was in touch on Friday to say "let's do it". I know I could call Mark Weldon, the boss of MediaWorks, and he would be up for it too. And Paul Thompson, the CEO of Radio New Zealand was dignified in his response on Friday - he said I'd raised an important issue and my opinion should be respected while we debated it.

But we never got there. We never got to the debate. The worm turned. And quite dramatically.

I was described as "muddled" and a victim of "sour grapes." It was "PC gone mad". I'm sexist. I'm nasty. I'm arrogant. Just a few hours ago, a woman wrote that I was a revolting person. There has been a steady stream of criticism and abuse - but also support - throughout the weekend.

The six men of radio: Larry Williams, Duncan Garner, Mike Hosking, Paul Henry, John Campbell and Guyon Espiner.
The six men of radio: Larry Williams, Duncan Garner, Mike Hosking, Paul Henry, John Campbell and Guyon Espiner.

It is clear that my opinion has made people uncomfortable. It's challenged people. It's challenged feminists. It's challenged management.


It isn't, however, about John Campbell. It's just that his appointment triggered the near-monopoly. It's not about who's politically left or right. And it's not that women are better. It's just that diversity is better.

Remember how boardroom tables were once devoid of women? It took time and a lot of lobbying to bring about change... and now business leaders will tell you that diverse boardrooms have significantly enhanced business too. Diversity of gender, culture and perspective would enhance the media in the same way.

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So where does it go from here? Maybe we're not quite ready to discuss this. Maybe it's for another day. But that day has to come. It must come.

And I won't budge from my position on this. I know it made people uncomfortable, but I'm going to say it again. Diversity in prime time is fundamental. No one wins if our world is being shaped by the perspective of one gender and one race, irrespective of their politics.

- Newstalk ZB
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