The Wellingtonian Interview: Jason Pine
Newstalk ZB football broadcaster Jason Pine about why he's not a lawyer, covering the Phoenix and rock and roll dancing.
What did you think you'd be when you grew up?
When I was at Tawa College I imagined I'd be a lawyer. That's what I studied initially at Victoria University. I liked what I saw on LA Law, with the guys all wearing flash suits and looking like they were having a good time. I'd enjoyed debating and public speaking at school. It just felt like a natural choice.
What changed your mind?
I failed my first-year exam. If I'd got 9 per cent more, I'd have carried on. It turned out to be a good failure, though at the time I thought it was the biggest catastrophe of my life. I changed to a BA in politics, then went to the broadcasting school in Christchurch.
Was broadcasting the lure, or the chance to get into sport?
I liked sport, there's no doubt about that. I was a keen footballer and I spent many a happy hour at the Basin watching cricket. But broadcasting appealed. I got some good advice from Peter Williams and Geoff Bryan.
Where did you work initially?
I did afternoon music shifts in the Wairarapa for a while, then moved to Radio Nelson. I hosted a Saturday morning sports show with Jock and Scruff Edwards, and did the weekday afternoon music shift. Later I did the Saturday afternoon scoreboard show and became programme director.
Sounds like you had a good time in Nelson.
I did. The sport was great. The Giants, the basketball team, were really big, but we followed Nelson Bay rugby, the Nelson Suburbs football team in the Chatham Cup, speedway. . . it was great.
You played in that Suburbs team, didn't you?
Yes, I was up front initially, and later moved to the back. I was never particularly skilful, but I tried hard and stayed fit.
Did you report on your own matches?
No, I tried to avoid that. I'd get an outsider to do those reports.
How long have you been back in Wellington?
Since 1999. I did the Saturday morning shift, 7 till 9, and still do. But I've had a lot of other roles since at ZB.
You've carved out a niche covering the Phoenix. They came along at a good time for you.
I was incredibly fortunate. If I trace it back, Terry Serepisos has been a huge boost to my career. Without him there wouldn't be a Phoenix. And without the Phoenix I doubt New Zealand would have got to the 2010 World Cup. I've been able to broadcast the Phoenix and achieved a personal dream, by covering a World Cup.
Are you close to the Phoenix team?
They're very helpful, but I don't socialise with them. I don't want to blur the lines. I have a very good professional relationship with the players and with Ricki [Herbert, the coach].
What's the biggest game you've covered?
You'd go a long way to beat that New Zealand-Bahrain game in Wellington in 2009. The atmosphere was incredible. When Paston saved the penalty, that provoked the loudest noise I've ever heard at the stadium. The whole stadium shook. For me, that game was up there even with the World Cup finals, where New Zealand played so well.
Are you in the camp that says football will one day be our national game?
No, rugby's our national game, and the All Blacks will always be our No 1 side. But since New Zealand has had a professional football team, the sport's following has grown here. It used to be mainly followers of the English leagues, but now there are a lot of New Zealand football fans, too.
There's been a move in radio to cut back local content by having shows such as Leighton Smith's from Auckland cover the whole country. Where do you stand on that?
I'm a traditionalist, but a realist. Since the mid-1990s, the trend has been to network shows, but with the talk brands, such as ZB, there is a place for as much local content as possible. We've kept our local shows, with Justin du Fresne, then Sean Plunket, doing weekdays and with local weekend presenters. You want presenters who can talk to listeners about Courtenay Place, the Basin, Cuba St, the stadium.
Do listeners care?
When we network a programme - perhaps if Sean is away - the complaints will start coming in within a few seconds. We'll be deluged with complaints. Wellington listeners want Wellington hosts.
Just changing tack, I understand you do rock and roll dancing.
Ha! My wife, Bex, is the rock and roll dancer. She's been doing it since her 20s. I'm hopeless. I thought I'd be OK at dancing because I'd played a lot of sport, but I'm definitely not. However, I have started to learn. It's very different from anything else. It takes a long time to pick it up and you have to really concentrate. I thought it would be good when we went along to dance evenings if I could do a bit, rather than sit around. When you try, you realise how good they are. The moves and the throws are amazing.