I am a huge fan of the Paul Henry Show. Don’t switch away just yet if that comment puts you off entirely – to clarify, I am not the “stake out his house for an autograph” type of fan, but more of a “what he does must takes some seriously brilliant broadcasting skills” kind of thing. When you break down media presentation into teachable chunks like I do for a living it is reasonably hard to mention him in conversation and not give credit where credit’s due. I am aware he is controversial but to be honest, I don’t think he’s trying that hard to be and I personally haven’t heard him say anything particularly offensive to my sensibilities. (Not saying that he hasn’t said anything mortifying, just not at any point that I’ve been listening)
Henry, with a strong team around him, pulls together a very watchable TV show, but more impressively, a very listenable radio show. I had serious doubts when they announced the multi-media format that he would be presenting – it was something that had the potential to be excellent and strong and real competition for the main stays of the breakfast market. Or it could have been something more like a train wreck – with the radio listeners forgotten in favour of humorous Youtube videos of flying squirrels, but it’s not a train wreck at all. From comments Henry has made on-air to his co-presenters, it is clearly a priority to him as a broadcaster and he is working very hard to make sure that both the visual and audio audiences are being catered for.
There was evidence of Henry’s clever craft in his regular weekly interview with John Key – one of New Zealand’s most media savvy and best trained interview subjects of modern media. I have met John (Mr Key, Prime Minister, Right Honourable etc) through work and seen him in action first hand. He is sharp, affable, polite and very, very competent. So it was a surprising moment this morning when he dropped his guard on Radio Live.
In the audio interview John Key fields questions on a multitude of topics, some which he clearly feels positively about, others that he doesn’t. Presumably he continues, on screen, to smile his way through the questions because you can hear through the interview that his voice remains warm. At around 6 minutes into the interview Paul asks John about Teina Pora and the entire sound of the interview changes, so does the energy. “He’s not after an apology, he’s after compensation,” John’s voice runs cold. What’s interesting about this is that I don’t think the shift in energy and the sound of contempt would be the dominant take away feeling from the television interview. In this instance, John Key forgets the dual audience and allows the multi-layer broadcast platform to expose a side of the media competent Prime Minister we wouldn’t normally get a window into. Especially interesting given that his attitude is seemingly out of step with the wider public support for Teina Pora, after a comprehensive and fascinating interview on TV3’s new current affairs show 3D.
Having recently seen Paula Penfold talk at the Wintec Press Club about her journey as an investigative reporter following and fighting for Teina, it was a moving watch. The interview showed Teina as a wise, humble man, with an amazing attitude towards life – positive and lacking resentment. A man looking to move forward; and for whom an apology means more than money. That John Key focused solely on the money is interesting in itself.
Huge kudos to Mediaworks for a job well done and here’s to an exciting future for cross-platform broadcasting – long may it continue, and continue to surprise us.