Earlier this week, ZM took out the prize for top network radio station in New Zealand. To celebrate, we're revisiting Chris Schulz's crazy morning rush with the ZM morning crew to see just what kind of madness goes into making NZ's top radio show.

Vaughan Smith climbs out of his chair, gets on all fours, hunches his back, and lengthens his neck.

Taking a deep breath, the easily excited DJ eyeballs his ZM radio co-hosts Carl "Fletch" Fletcher and Megan Sellers, leans into his microphone and warns: "I'm going full method ... Jared Leto."

"Don't go full method," sighs Fletch. His jaded tone signals the fact he's seen Vaughan take a joke too far before.

This time that joke is based on a news story about a tasered animal. The on-air trio are treating listeners to a competition: which of the three can deliver the best impersonation of an electrocuted goat?


Megan's was a little meek, and Fletch's was too tame. But at 8.52am, after two coffees and nearly three hours on air, Vaughan is going "full method" for his goat performance.

In the process, he'll help ZM's morning crew reach their Friday crescendo.

READ MORE: NZME shines at 2017 Radio Awards as ZM takes out top prize

"Deploying taser, taser, taser, 50,000 volts!" booms producer James Johnson, pretending to be a stereotypical Kiwi cop.

Vaughan begins his effort with an innocent bleat. Suddenly, his body erupts into spasms and he summons a noise that sounds like he's expunging a particularly angry demon.

Through audible snorts, the team's producer Caitlin Marett declares Vaughan the winner and cuts to an ad break.

Megan Sellers at work during a ZM morning radio show. Photo/Michael Craig
Megan Sellers at work during a ZM morning radio show. Photo/Michael Craig

It's a riotous climax to their show, but Fletch, Vaughan and Megan's day didn't start like this. In fact, the trio didn't even plan this segment this way.

For one of their last shows before Christmas, they'd arrived separately just after 5am, sidling into their central Auckland studio to scan news headlines and social media. The atmosphere is quiet and pensive as they casually raise potential topics.

"I spent an ungodly amount of time picking a Christmas tree yesterday," says Vaughan, the show's troublemaker, to no one in particular. "My car still stinks of pine needles."

He's sipping thick black coffee and watching a Facebook video of a creepy animated baby crawling along the floor. He's not wearing shoes.

Megan, the more serious of the three, taps her foot back and forth. A jar with the remnants of a smoothie rests of her desk. She's in charge of the celebrity stuff. "Caitlyn Jenner eats like a horse," she exclaims, randomly.

Fletch, Vaughan and Megan in action in the ZM studio. Photo/Michael Craig
Fletch, Vaughan and Megan in action in the ZM studio. Photo/Michael Craig

Finally, just before 6am, they settle on their favourites: A chat with Invercargill Mayor Tim Shadbolt about his scooter antics, the strict rules surrounding Coldplay's Auckland show, and a debate about a new range of Barbie dolls.

But there's something else on the table. "Do you guys like the idea of the goat tasering in Oamaru?" says Fletch, who has been spooning muesli furiously into his mouth. He's the organiser of the three, making sure everything goes to plan.

"I was thinking we could make a segment out of it, get three people on the phone and they have to do the goat being tasered," he says.

"The best-tasered goat? It'd be hilarious," says Vaughan, yet to realise he'll end the show bleating crazily into his microphone.

Just after 6am, the studio's red 'On Air' light beams, the producers escape to their consoles, Tove Lo's bouncy hit Cool Girl plays and the trio officially go on air.

They quickly, seemingly without effort, begin delivering quick-witted banter and funny oneliners, riffing on everything they'd just been discussing. They already sound far too perky for this time of day.

The trio have been doing this at ZM for two years, but they've been together much longer. Fletch and Vaughan began at now-rivals The Edge in 2004, Megan joined in 2008, and the trio were drafted across to ZM in 2014.

Compared to opposing morning radio crews, who sometimes seem capable of doing literally anything in the name of ratings, the three are relatively straight-laced. They refuse to get dirty, scorn listeners, shame each other out or make inappropriate jokes.

"We don't rely on filthy humour. I don't think it's the sort of people we are," explains Vaughan. "I think, dirty stuff, aww, grim. It's yuck if it's said straight up," continues Megan.

Fletch: "We like it to be clever. Like tasering goats."

Megan Sellers in action with ZM's morning crew, Fletch and Vaughan. Photo/Michael Craig
Megan Sellers in action with ZM's morning crew, Fletch and Vaughan. Photo/Michael Craig

Their relationship, honed over hundreds of hours of live radio, is like a marriage, says Vaughan. Yes, they can get on each other's nerves. But they're also best mates. They know where those lines are.

"I know how to wind my wife up and I know how to wind Fletch up. You start just making things up, and he reacts to it, which makes him seem guilty. So you just keep going. it's so much fun," says Vaughan.

Winding up Fletch is Vaughan's favourite thing to do, and it happens throughout today's show. Just an hour after their shift began, he gives the perfect example. In full view of the studio cameras, Vaughan removes his shorts and swaps them for a pair of 'Cody Cooler Pants'.

With room for 18 cans of the cheap liquor, it's a comical Christmas gift sent to the team that Fletch was hoping to re-gift to his brother. Now that Vaughan has worn them, he's worried they'll look used.

"Can you please be careful with those," complains Fletch. "You're ruining my present. This is meant to be a surprise."

"These are repulsive," says Vaughan, his hands digging deep into a pocket where cans should be. " ... Disgusting."

Like most of their skits, they manage to turn it back onto their listeners, asking them: "What are you regifting this Christmas?" But it's a quiet gag compared to what's coming. The three build the show to a peak just before 9am, the time they figure most of their listeners probably tune out and begin their work day.

Along the way, there's that Barbie discussion, a hilarious interview with an up-for-it Shadbolt, an investigation into whether tipping cinnamon into a boiling kettle makes your house smell like Christmas (it sort of does), and a ticket giveaway for an R18 Wiggles concert (it's best not to ask).

And then the peak: the tasered goat. Running out of time before a news break, they decide to run the competition between themselves.

Once Vaughan is declared the winner, he collects himself off the floor, slams open the ZM studio doors and heads out to the staff kitchen to make himself another coffee.

"I've got a sore throat now from all the laughing and goat noises," he declares, to no one in particular. It's 9.03am.

• Fletch, Vaughan and Megan are on air weekdays 6-10am on ZM. Listen through iHeartRadio or stream their show here.