Magic Talk was replacing Radio Live, as MediaWorks’ talkback station. Ahead of Magic Talk’s launch on Saturday, the company confirmed its line-up – which did not include Morning Talk host and broadcasting veteran Mark Sainsbury.
Peter Williams would take over the morning show from his former TVNZ colleague Sainsbury. Ryan Bridge would keep his drive time spot, and Plunket would be taking over the afternoon show.
Plunket’s last broadcasting job had been on Radio Live, before he moved into political marketing. The veteran broadcaster had worked in roles across media, acting as a columnist, television host and talkback presenter. Recently, however, he has been making a name for himself on social media as a controversial commentator.
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He last hit headlines when he resigned form his role at the Broadcasting Standards Authority, less than two weeks after being appointed to the government agency. His resignation came after he sent a controversial tweet, asking: “Anyone else feeling for Harvey Weinstein?”
He said he didn’t regret the tweet and thought the outrage was “a sadly predictable social media pile on”.
Then in December, a public spat surfaced between Plunket and musician Lizzie Marvelly. He reportedly told Marvelly to “f… off” when she interjected while he was speaking at a Hamilton Press Club event. The pair later tweeted about it.
“The woke echo chamber of the Hamilton Press club has clearly decided that open debate is only acceptable within certain parameters,” he said on Twitter.
When he was last on radio, Plunket was the subject of a few BSA complaints himself. In 2015, two people complained when he called author Eleanor Catton an “ungrateful hua”.
Plunket had also hosted RNZ’s Morning Report and worked as a press secretary for Gareth Morgan’s The Opportunities Party during the 2017 election. During the election, he grew a reputation for his abrasive communications method.
In a Stuff interview following his BSA resignation, Plunket said he was a contrarian – not a Weinstein supporter.
“My life experience from a very young age has taught me that one needs to be very wary of placing trust in authority figures,” he said. “I’m a difficult person to live with. I’m an argumentative bastard. I’m happy to debate, but I’m logical.”
MediaWorks’ announcement suggested Magic Talk would not heavily rely on the music content being broadcast on its new sister station Magic Music.
The two stations would broadcast separately, with Magic Music continuing on with the same hosts and music aimed at audiences older than 45.
Magic Talk, however, would operate with fewer shows and on less frequencies than Radio Live had. In Auckland, Magic Talk would ditch the FM band altogether. The station also lost its Hawke’s Bay FM frequency.
Magic Music would be taking over 100.6 FM in Auckland, the frequency previously held by Radio Live. Magic Talk would be on AM only in Auckland.
The company said talkback hosts would staff Magic Talk every weekday. On the weekends, a statement said Rural Exchange and Home and Garden would continue.
Leah Panapa, who had read the late night news on Radio Live, would be taking over as the weekdays host from 7pm to 11pm on Magic Talk. Tony Amos would be doing the overnighter, from midnight to 6am, MediaWorks said.
The new Magic Talk line-up was missing any mention of sports hosts Andrew Gourdie, Brendan Telfer and Jim Kayes. Their shows had aired on Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
Another popular show, Graeme Hill’s Weekend Variety Wireless was also missing from the Magic Talk line-up.