Newstalk ZB

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Newstalk ZB
Newstalk ZB Logo 2015
Broadcast area New Zealand
Frequency List available below
Format News and talk
Owner NZME Radio
Webcast Auckland
Website Official website
Corporate website

Newstalk ZB is a nationwide New Zealand talk radio network operated by NZME Radio. It is available in almost every radio market in the country, and has news reporters based in many of them. In addition to talkback, the network also broadcasts news, interviews, music, and sports (sometimes in partnership with its sister network Radio Sport).

Most of the network's programming is produced in Auckland, in the NZME Radio building on the corner of Cook & Nelson Streets. Wellington and Christchurch produce some local programming and most markets produce their own local news and weather updates.


Early years - 1ZB Auckland[edit]

The history of Newstalk ZB dates back to 1926 when Auckland station 1ZB was first started initially broadcasting on 1070AM, the station moved to 1080AM in 1978. The stations brand name was the stations call sign 1ZB. A ZB station was established in the four main centres of New Zealand as 1ZB Auckland, 2ZB Wellington, 3ZB Christchurch and 4ZB Dunedin. Up until 1987 the four ZB stations were music stations running a mixture of local and networked content. Each other individual station on the Newstalk ZB network has its own history with most stations starting out as a local AM radio run by Radio New Zealand.

In February 1993, in Auckland, Newstalk 1ZB began broadcasting on 89.4 FM as well as the original 1080 AM when local station 89X (formerly 89FM) ceased to operate, Radio New Zealand purchased this station a year earlier and chose to close it down and use the frequency for Newstalk 1ZB. The current Newstalk ZB nationwide 0800 number (0800 80 10 80) actually comes from the original 1080AM frequency in Auckland that is still in use today.

Format change[edit]

Newstalk ZB introduced this logo when it adopted its current talkback format in 1987.

In the mid 1980s, 1ZB Auckland lost a number of its key on-air personalities to privately owned Radio i, including Merv Smith who had hosted 1ZB's breakfast programme for over twenty years. The station's ratings subsequently plummeted as large amounts of listeners migrated to other stations.

In 1987 a decision was made to re-launch 1ZB as a talkback station branded as Newstalk 1ZB. While the change was not popular initially the station showed growth by the end of the first year and by 1989 the breakfast show presented by Paul Holmes was the number 1 show in Auckland.

Expansion to other markets[edit]

During the late eighties and early nineties Radio New Zealand switched many of their local heritage stations to FM but retained the AM frequency in each region running the same programme on both frequencies. Following the success of the talkback format in Auckland a decision was made to switch 2ZB Wellington and 3ZB Christchurch to a talkback format in 1991. At the same time new FM music stations were established in Wellington and Christchurch, these stations were B90 FM (Wellington) and B98 FM (Christchurch). In the early nineties many of the Radio New Zealand local stations that had switched to FM began running morning talkback shows on the AM frequency while continuing to play music on the FM frequency.

In 1993 and 1994 the local Radio New Zealand station in some regions were rebranded with the Classic Hits name and the AM frequency was used to roll out the station across New Zealand, it was at this point Newstalk 1ZB was rebranded as Newstalk ZB. Initially those regions that ran local talkback shows on the AM frequency continued to do so and Wellington and Christchurch were initially local versions of Newstalk ZB.

Privatisation and further expansion[edit]

In 1996 Radio New Zealand sold their commercial operation and Newstalk ZB, along with Classic Hits and ZM, became part of The Radio Network. In 2001 Newstalk ZB was further expanded into the smaller community markets in New Zealand. The smaller regions did not have their local stations rebranded as Classic Hits during the early nineties and many of these stations were still only broadcasting on AM frequencies. These stations were consolidated together in 1998 to become part of the Community Radio Network, in 2001 all Community Radio Network stations were rebranded as Classic Hits and at this point began broadcasting on FM if the station was already on FM leaving the AM frequency to now be used to broadcast Newstalk ZB. Today most Newstalk ZB stations run complete networked programming, however Wellington and Christchurch still have a local show in the mornings between 9 am and 12 pm.

Canterbury earthquakes[edit]

Following the Christchurch earthquake on 4 September 2010 and the major aftershock on 22 February 2011 programming in Christchurch was greatly affected. After both earthquakes the station broadcast in place of other radio stations in Christchurch operated by The Radio Network, the local studios located in Worcester Street in Christchurch were evacuated. Local news services in Christchurch were replaced temporarily with the network news feed which mostly contained news stories related to the quake heard by all of New Zealand.

Local news readers reported news about the quake for all of New Zealand. The local morning show remained on the air but was broadcast from a temporary location and following the first earthquake this was at the Whitebait Studios in Christchurch and after the earthquake in February from a hotel in Christchurch. After the February 2011 earthquake The Radio Network Christchurch never returned to their Worcester Street premises and eventually setup in a new location. The building was taken down in August 2012, in New Zealand's first ever controlled building demolition with explosives.


Newstalk ZB's talk radio format has been established over a number of years, with few changes to the schedule since a major relaunch in 1987. Several stations - including Alexandra, Gisborne, Oamaru, Queenstown, Tokoroa, Wairarapa and Wanaka - break out from the Newstalk ZB network programming to simulcast the Dunedin-based Farming Show with Radio Sport and Hokonui from 12pm weekdays.

The roster of predominantly European New Zealand males has been criticised for lacking gender and ethnic diversity, and contributing to an under-representation of women and Māori in the media.[1][2]

Early Edition[edit]

Bill English is a regular guest on Early Edition.

Journalist Rachel Smalley presents Newstalk ZB's early morning programme, KPMG Early Edition, following previous roles as a Sky News and 3 News reporter and Nightline and Firstline presenter. The programme includes interviews with international and national news interviews, overseas correspondents and business commentators - from regular interviews with Bill English and Andrew Little to one-off interviews with experts in their field.[3][4] There are also live crosses to chief reporters in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.[5] Andrew Dickens or Tim Dower serve as fill-in hosts.[6][7]

Smalley apologised in April 2014 after describing New Zealand women over 72 kilograms as "heifers" and a "bunch of lardos" during an ad break when she believed her microphone was off. The comments was reported and criticised in several local and international media outlets, including and the Daily Mail.[8][9][10][11] In a tearful apology the following morning, she described her comments as deeply offensive, stupid and judgemental and said she deeply regretted her choice of words.[12] The Broadcasting Standards Authority rejected complaints against the comments, saying they were neither calculated nor deliberate.[13]

The Broadcasting Standards Authority did, however, uphold a complaint about an editorial on the Israeli shelling of UNRWA Gaza shelters during the Israel-Gaza conflict. The authority found the programme had overstated the number of people killed in the bombing of the Rafah Preparatory A Boys School and had wrongly condemned Israel of targeting civilians and killing every civilian inside. Newstalk ZB argued the number of fatalities was irrelevant to the broader point, but the authority said the right to express opinions in editorials did not justify factually inaccurate and misleading statements.[14]


Former breakfast host Paul Holmes

Mike Hosking hosts the Newstaklk ZB's breakfast programme - a 150-minute show of interviews, correspondents, conversations, commentaries and quickfire talkback on the issues and business developments of the day. Separate half-hourly news bulletins, sports highlights, traffic updates and weather forecasts are broadcast for Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and the nationwide ZB network, alongside headlines at quarter past and quarter to the hour.

The first hour of the programme includes news discussions, finance experts, news interviews and overseas correspondents. The second hour includes short-form interviews, longer-form interviews and ASB Bank sponsored segments - with a wide array of guests ranging from lawyers to frontline social workers.[15][16][17] The final half-hour includes panel discussions with sports commentators, politicians or news journalists, or feature interviews with special guests.[18][19]

A weekly Monday morning chat with the prime minister of the day has become a cornerstone of the Newstalk ZB Breakfast - a biography of John Key mentions it as the very first thing he does every week.[20] The answers provided by this interview often receive further coverage or spark further stories in other media.[21] The show also includes feature interviews with visiting Australian politicians, like treasurer Joe Hockey and former prime minister Julia Gillard.[22] Victor O'Connor, the father of singer Lorde, was interviewed on the programme about his daughter's success, describing it as a "surreal" and "incredible ride".[23]

Jack Tame, Susan Wood and Larry Williams serve as substitute hosts, and Tim Dower presents a 180 minute version of the show on summer and public holidays. Hosking became host in 2009, replacing Paul Holmes who had presented the show since 1987.[24] A Christchurch version of the show, hosted by John Dunne and Ken Ellis, also aired from 1987 to 2008, while a Wellington version, presented by Lindsay Yeo, aired from 1987 to 1996.


The morning slot on Newstalk ZB is primarily news-related talkback, with some interviews with newsmakers and regular guests. Most stations broadcast a talkback programme with host Leighton Smith.

During this timeslot Wellington broadcasts a programme with Tim Fookes. Sean Plunket hosted the show in 2012.

Christchurch broadcasts a local talkback show hosted by Chris Lynch. The Christchurch show, then hosted by Ali Jones, was dropped at the end of 2009 and replaced with the network show. After much complaint from listeners and a major drop in listeners The Radio Network decided to bring back a local show to Christchurch in mid-2010. The new show was initially hosted by Mike Yardley who had hosted the same show on the station in the past, but left in November 2012 and was replaced by former TVNZ Close Up producer Chris Lynch as of January 2013.[25]


Danny Watson hosts Newstalk ZB's afternoon open-line talkback programme, drawing on a range of other careers and broadcasting roles. Described by NZ On Screen as a "vocational chameleon", Watson began his broadcasting career on children's show Spot On alongside The Amazing Race host Phil Keoghan. He also hosted children's show What Now?, magazine show Danny's Cafe and a local version of prank show Candid Camera before replacing Chris Carter in the afternoon slot.[26] He has put his long tenure in talkback down to loving people and being addicted to hearing their stories.[27]

The programme includes regular special interest discussions with specialist journalists and contributors. On Mondays the programme features personal trainer Claire Turnball and a series of health guests.[28][29] On Tuesday afternoons Watson highlights new products, innovations or ideas - from conservation board games to flat-footed ballet shoes.[30][31] He also co-hosts a segment Tech Tuesday with technology experts and a range of specialist guests.[32] On other days Watson features long-form talkback with a range of experts, such as representatives of community and justice groups.[33]


Blogger David Farrar is a regular commentator on the drive programme.

Larry Williams hosts Newstalk ZB's fast-paced drive programme of interviews with newsmakers, live crosses to reporters, political commentary and quickfire news talkback. The first hour includes interviews with newsmakers, political editor Barry Soper, financial analysts, overseas correspondents and sports journalists. The second hour includes interviews with newsmakers and experts, and a topical panel discussion with commentators like David Farrar, Tim Watkin and Cameron Slater.[34][35][36][37] Business and finance experts like Cameron Fisher, Fran O'Sullivan and Rob Hosking appear in the final hour of the programme.[38] Susan Wood, Greg Boyed and Tim Dower serve as the programme's substitute hosts.[39]

Williams has been described as "short on humour, long on suspicion" - as someone who "seethes and snarls" and feels "personally affronted" by the news stories he covers.[40] He has remained in the drive-time position consistently since 1987, appealing directly to peak-hour commuters. The show includes 15-minute news updates, hourly news and sports bulletins, and regular editorials. It has also featured many on-air arguments - during the Blackheart campaign for Team New Zealand, for example, he often argued with fellow host Murray Deaker.[40]

Blogger Cameron Slater has been a regular commentator on the drive programme for several years, and has been both critical and supportive of the station's positions in the past.[41][42][43] In 2013, the Broadcasting Standards Authority rejected complaints against Slater over his suggestions that openly-gay Labour MP Grant Robertson "enjoys being stabbed from behind" - and Newstalk ZB defended what they argued was "robust, irreverent, edgy" debate.[44] In 2014, he participated in a series of one-hour pre-election panel discussions on the drive programme - retaining the position following the release of Nicky Hager book Dirty Politics amid calls from left-wing commentators for him to resign.[45][46][47]


From 7pm, Mark Watson (Monday-Tuesday) or Tony Veitch pres (Wednesday-Friday) present an hour of sports-related talkback and interviews, simulcast live on Radio Sport

Between 8:00 pm and 12:00 am, the network broadcasts four hours of nationwide talkback, hosted by Kerre McIvor (née Woodham) from Monday to Thursday evenings. On Fridays from 8pm til midnight, a Friday Night edition of Tim Roxborogh and Tim Wilson's radio show 'The Two' airs. Previously Bruce Russell hosted a Friday night talkback show. Substitute hosts include Andrew Dickens and Tim Dower.


The daily 00:00 to 0500 am timeslot features talkback on current affairs, music and hourly news, sports and weather updates. On Saturday the Super Sport Saturday programme airs. The 5 hour talkback show have a heavy reliance on audience participation. The overnight radio programme is hosted by Bruce Russell on Monday, Tuesday and Friday mornings; Tim Roxborogh hosts Wednesday, Thursday and Tim Beveridge hosts Saturdays; and Gary Denvir hosts Sunday.

Substitute hosts include Peter Wolfkamp and Tim Dower. Previous hosts included Alf Rose, John Peachey, Noelle McCarthy, James King, Nick Robinson and Pat Brittenden.

Weekend breakfast[edit]

The All Sports breakfast from 6:00 am till 9:00 am on Saturdays encompasses a Garage Sale segment for the first half hour, and then features on Local sport, sports panels, and interviews with Athletes and sports journalists. The All Sports Breakfast has local versions in many regions, the Auckland version with Nigel Yalden is simulcast in regions that do not have a local version. Christchurch's version is hosted by Lesley Murdoch and Craig Kerr.

Between 6:00 am and 8:00 am on Sundays, Pete Wolfkamp presents an two hour-long DIY talkback programme, previously hosted by Ruud Kleinpaste. Between 8:00 am and 9:00 am on Sundays, Daniel McHardy hosts The Sports Power Hour, which has his and others' commentary on the weekend sport so far.

Weekend mornings[edit]

Jack Tame presents the Saturday Morning Programme between 9:00 am and 12:00 pm throughout New Zealand, except Wellington which broadcasts 'Wellington on Saturday' sometimes known as 'The Great Weekender', The show had previously been hosted by Garry Ward for 26 years. The history of this show dates back to 1983 on Wellington's 2ZB and all this time had been hosted by Garry Ward, Ward died suddenly on 17 September 2009. His replacement was later announced as former Weekday Morning host in Wellington Justin du Fresne.

Andrew Dickens presents a similar programme called Andrew Dickens' Sunday Café, at the same time on Sunday morning, all shows featuring interviews and sponsored regular guests segments.

Weekend afternoon[edit]

Tony Veitch presents Vietch on Saturday, a combination of live sports updates and commentary and sports-related talkback. The programme, which is usually simulcast on Radio Sport, includes interviews with major New Zealand sports people.

Wellington previously broke out for a local Scoreboard show hosted by Daniel McHardy, focussing on local sports issues like the Wellington Phoenix and local club sport updates. For over 40 years, Christchurch also broadcast a Scoreboard show for its region, hosted by Malcolm Ellis for over 15 years, however the Christchurch show was discontinued at the end of 2009 due to cost-cutting and now takes Veitch's show with local breakouts three times an hour.

Murray Deaker presented a show for the network on Sunday afternoons with a similar format, called Deaker on Sunday until his retirement on 22 December 2013. Willie Lose and Peter Montgomery also previously hosted Saturday afternoons.

Weekend nights[edit]

On Saturday evenings, Bruce Russell hosts a music-and-memories show called In My Day from 6pm until midnight. Previously, Jim Sutton hosted Nostalgia, a show that showcased music from yesteryear. The Saturday Night Nostalgia show was retired on Saturday 13 April 2013.

On Sunday evenings, a show hosted by Sam Bloore and Jax van Buuren, Total Recall, airs from 6pm to 7.30pm. This is followed by Real Life with John Cowan, featuring one well known/successful person each week being interviewed by John Cowan about their lives.

Tim Roxborogh and Tim Wilson host The Two from 8pm until 11pm. This is followed by Mike King's talkshow The Nutters Club, until 1am on Monday. Former Sunday night hosts include Oliver Driver, Petra Bagust and Pat Brittenden.

Holiday talkback[edit]

During the Christmas and New Year holiday season, the schedule changes, with a single nationwide morning shift from 9am until 1pm, an afternoon shift until 6pm and a 6 hour evening shift until midnight devoted almost entirely to talkback.


Newstalk ZB operates one of the largest news operations in New Zealand, with over 50 newsreaders, reporters and editors nationwide. The four main news hubs are in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Parliament, along with regional newsrooms in Whangarei, Hamilton, Tauranga, Rotorua, Taupo, New Plymouth, Napier, Palmerston North, Nelson, Dunedin and Invercargill.

The Auckland news centre produces live bulletins for the national Newstalk ZB network, as well as local Auckland bulletins at breakfast time. Welington and Christchurch both broadcast live local news bulletins during the breakfast show. The remainder of Newstalk ZB's markets air the live network bulletins, however the regional newsrooms around the country provide each station with local news segments during the breakfast show.

Network weekday newsreaders include Bernadine Oliver-Kerby (Breakfast), Malcolm Jordan (Mornings), Niva Retimanu (Afternoons), Juliette Siverstsen (Evenings/Overnights). Weekend and fill-in newsreaders include Joe Gilfillan, Tim Dower, Bruce Russell, Lucy Walker, Eric Young, Freda Wylie and Josh White. Sports newsreaders include Matt Brown, Rikki Swannell, Andrew Alderson, Brenton Vannissleroy, Guy Heveldt, Andy Rowe and Elliott Smith.


Newstalk ZB News began as Independent Radio News, a news service played on most independently owned and operated radio stations in New Zealand during the 1980s and 1990s. The majority of New Zealand radio stations not owned by Radio New Zealand used this news and sport service usually followed by the station's own local news and weather forecast.

In 1996 Radio New Zealand sold their commercial operation and The Radio Network was formed, at the time The Radio Network purchased IRN. The Radio Network branded the news service on their own stations as Radio Network News while the news service continued to be called IRN on stations not owned by The Radio Network despite the news coming from the same place. Radio New Zealand continued to operate their own news service on Radio New Zealand National and Radio New Zealand Concert, the two non-commercial stations that were not sold.

By 2000 a large number of radio stations had been taken over by RadioWorks, which didn't like the idea of paying for a news service operated by its main competitor and chose to start their own news service. After CanWest purchased RadioWorks the news service became known as the Global News Service (Global is the same name as Television network in Canada operated by CanWest), and in 2005 it was again renamed to Radio Live News.[48] Similarly, IRN News later became Newstalk ZB News.

Affiliate Service[edit]

The Newstalk ZB Affiliates Unit is based in the Auckland newsroom, and records a variety of hourly bulletins for other stations of NZME Radio and sells its bulletins to a number of external clients including Radio 1XX - One Double-X in Whakatane and the Eastern Bay Of Plenty. Lucy Walker presents these bulletins during weekday mornings, with Juliette Sivertsen presenting drivetime bulletins. At all other times the main Newstalk ZB Network newsreader also records the Affiliates bulletins.

On the internet, The Affiliates Unit also provides a continuously-updated wire service of text articles and streaming audio of Newstalk ZB's stories for websites such as XtraMSN, TelstraClear, NZ City and the New Zealand Rugby Union. It also supplies a news wire service to Prime TV, Sky TV, Sky News Australia and TVNZ.



While the Newstalk ZB network has a long history on AM, its FM frequency for Newstalk ZB began as 89FM, a local FM radio station in Auckland between 1983 and 1994. The station was originally branded as 89 Stereo FM broadcasting on 89.4FM using the callsign 1ROQ, and was one of the very first radio stations to broadcast on FM in both Auckland and New Zealand. The first FM station in New Zealand was Whakatane station, FM 90.7 in January 1982 but this station was only a temporary summer radio station. The other station to start around the same time as 89FM was Magic 91FM in Auckland.

In 1984 the station became part of Triple M and was rebranded as Triple M 89FM using the same logo and station imaging as the Triple M stations in Australia, all programming remained local, at the same time the stations callsign was changed to 1MMM. In 1988 the station dropped the Triple M branding and became 89FM. Station branding included Auckland's Music Leader and in 1991 The All New 89FM. In 1991 the station changed format to a Rock format was rebranded as 89Rock and in 1992 was once again changed to become 89X. In 1992 the station was sold to Radio New Zealand. On 10 February 1993 Radio New Zealand closed down 89X and used the frequency to broadcast Newstalk ZB on FM.

AM frequencies[edit]

FM frequencies[edit]

Other services[edit]

Timesaver Traffic[edit]

The Newstalk ZB Timesaver Traffic Centre produces and records traffic updates for all New Zealand Media and Entertainment stations. These updates for Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin air every 15 minutes during peak breakfast and drive timeslots, and hourly throughout the day and weekend on Newstalk ZB and The Hits.

The traffic centre also records prerecorded weather updates for several stations, including Mix 98.2 and Radio Sport. Lorna Subritzky is ZB's breakfast traffic host, replacing former host Wendy Meyer.[49]


Newstalk ZB runs regular promotions for movie previews and local events.[50] The network has sponsored a range of events - from Variety, the Children's Charity special children's parties and food bank events, through to musical tours from bands like The Feelers.[51][52][53] Its on-air competitions include breakfast giveway campaigns like the ASB All I Want For Christmas contest.[54]

Over several years, Newstalk ZB has given funding and support to Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, visiting international productions and local theatre companies.[55][56] It also supports the work of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter service operated by the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust, primarily through advertising and awareness-raising.[57]

Notices and cancellations[edit]

ZB stations have a long-running history of running notices for events and community groups. Cancellations for club and school sports events and recreation clubs have traditionally been broadcast every 30 minutes during breakfast in many markets.[58][59]


The Newstalk ZB website combines on-demand content with breaking news coverage. The network's Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch streams are all available on the iHeartRadio website and app.[60]


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