Veteran broadcaster Duncan Garner talks about powerful women he has known and standing in John Campbell's large shoes.
1. Is broadcast news a cesspool of professional jealousy and ego?
I think in all industries there are egos and "she said/he said". But I don't think everyone in broadcast news is a nasty bastard. The best journalists are people who like to stand up to authority, are extroverted, complicated, difficult and give a stuff. They often party hard and work hard. I don't want to come to work and be boring and be bored. My wife describes me as ADHD. I hope that doesn't offend anyone who suffers from that, because I haven't actually been diagnosed.
2. As the occupier of TV3's 7pm slot what do you do well that John Campbell didn't?
That is a terrible, dreadful, awful question. A shit question. But I always insist that people answer my questions so ... John became so busy that I found it hard to get hold of him in the end. I hope I am able to return phone calls better than John did.
3. Which one of your parents are you more similar to?
I think I've got my mum's generosity and softness. And perhaps my dad's humour over a beer. He was a conservative, disciplinarian kind of guy, but fun too. I'm very close to mum and my dad was kind of my best mate. When I lost him I lost the ability to ring him up and talk about the All Blacks selection or "What do you think of this Auckland housing crisis?". I still know his cellphone number by heart, five years on. I used to ring it after he died, just to hear his voice.
4. Linda Clark was your first boss in the parliamentary press gallery " what did you learn from her?
Work ethic. She never stopped. She's tough and compassionate, doesn't mince words, doesn't sit on fences. I was a wild 22-year-old thrown into the gallery and I had an incredible boss for seven years. She taught me the game of journalism. How lucky is that?
5. What's your response to claims that our media lacks diversity?
I think that's a bit confused. Some of my best bosses have been females - did you hear what I just said about Linda Clark? There's Carol Hirschfeld, a Maori woman, running Radio New Zealand news. I have a female boss here at Radio Live, Jana Rangooni. We have two Maori networks. I don't think there should be a quota system. My view is that the best person for the job should get it, whether they be man, woman, white, brown, yellow or green.
6. When were you at your lowest?
When Mihi [journalist Mihingarangi Forbes] and I broke up, she took our two little girls to Auckland, while I was in Wellington. Then my dad was diagnosed with terminal cancer. There's not much gloss you can put on that.
7. How did you get through it?
I'm a compartmentaliser. I'm very good at saying, "Okay that's happened to me and now what do I have to do until 6 o'clock to get through the day?" I've only learned to be like that because I've had to - my life is complex.
8. You have four children to three mothers - is that hard to juggle?
It doesn't look ideal, but it happened. You just have to make sure no one misses out and everyone feels loved. Every minute in my day is accounted for. I get up at 6am and make my son Buster's lunch. I like to know that I've done that little bit for him because I'm not there at the other end of the day. Then this morning I picked my daughter up at 6.30 from her mum's and took her to hockey and I went for a run around the field while she finished her training and then I took her to school. I walk out of Radio Live at 6pm and I've got 11 minutes in my car until I get to TV3. Then I've got 49 minutes till I'm on air for half an hour. I race home and if I can get there by 10 to eight I just manage to disrupt Deanna putting Buster to bed and give him a kiss.
9. How did you meet Deanna?
I was out having a couple of beers in Wellington with Guyon Espiner. Next thing I was dancing with her. She'd never heard of me. Didn't watch the news, didn't give a stuff. She plays rugby and I texted her that week to ask how her rugby trip had gone. A week later we went to some cheap Indian restaurant. I picked her up from the gym. She was trying to get into the car and the door wouldn't open. I was pressing the button, looking through the window, just couldn't get the door open, so that was an awkward moment for a first date. I liked her down-to-earth, fun approach to life. She didn't come with any media complexities or issues; it was lovely and refreshing. In saying that, seven years on, she's madly into what the media is doing, follows everything on Facebook, rings me, texts me, has lots of ideas for the radio show. That's not what I signed up for, love! But it's cool.
10. Did the appearance of your name on the Ashley Madison site cause any conflict at home?
Not at all. I woke up one morning and looked at my phone - it's never off - and there was Coco Mama, some 21-year-old Asian woman. I showed Deanna straight away and we laughed. She knows that I'm not very internet savvy, I'm not one to download an app, let alone sign up to a dating site. Do you believe me?
11. Sure. Do you think you and your Story co-host Heather du Plessis-Allan have on-screen chemistry?
The thing about me is I can't fake it. I pride myself on authenticity and I can't bullshit people. So if I didn't like Heather you would notice it. I love working with Heather. Just when you think a story is a certain shape, she'll say, "Why don't we attack it from this side?" So she's clever. She's quite a bright light, a spark in my day.
12. You had a reputation in the gallery for uncovering stories that resulted in politicians losing their jobs. Does that keep you awake at night?
No. Running ministers out of town? Nah. If they lost their job they deserved to. I didn't sack them. I'll tell you what I do think about: our coverage of Tuku Morgan and his underpants in 1996. I was a young journalist. He had a legitimate clothing allowance as a television journalist; he could spend it on whatever he liked, and we ripped the stuffing out of him. That story was led by the Labour Government and we ripped into it. He's a good guy Tuku. I do think about that, but nothing really keeps me awake except for my inability to sleep. I reckon it's because I always feel like there's something about to happen, something I need to be covering.