Deaker, Laidlaw sign off for the last time

SIMON DAY
Last updated 15:19 22/12/2013
SEAN WILLIS/Fairfax NZ

Veteran sports broadcaster Murray Deaker hangs up his headphones on his final show for Newstalk ZB.

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Two of New Zealand's longest serving radio personalities hung up their headphones for the last time today.

After 13 and a half years Murray Deaker is stepping down from the flagship Sunday with Deaker show on Radio Sport, and on National Radio Chris Laidlaw presented the Sunday Morning programme for last time after 11 years hosting the show.

Both men leave the Sunday jobs at the top of their game.

"It is a bittersweet occasion. I am happy to go out on a high note. The ratings are very good. We are miles ahead on a Sunday morning. There is a lot of satisfaction," said Laidlaw.

The former Labour MP, All Black and race relations commissioner held 14 per cent of the Sunday morning radio audience.

Deaker won sports broadcaster of the year in 2012, and was a finalist in 2013.

Despite his fiery and often controversial style Deaker has no regrets over his long career.

"There are things that I have done but they are part of me.

There are faux pas that I have made, two major ones which are pretty well documented, you regret that you used certain words and didn't think it through. Those stand out to me. But those have been part of me," he said.

"There have been so many programmes. There are a lot words that come out of your mouth if you so if you only regret a couple you haven't done badly," said Deaker.

Laidlaw had just one regret.

"Only getting up at 7am on a Sunday morning. I'm not an early morning person as a rule and it's particularly hard on a Sunday."

The programme often focused on the largest issues facing New Zealand and Laidlaw, who was recently elected to the Capital and Coast DHB, now plans to take those on personally.

"There are some pretty big challenges in local government and I am deeply immersed in all of that. I have pretty strong views about where this country is headed and I want to pursue some of that," he said.

Career highlights for Deaker were the retirement of All Black Grant Fox on his show, and the revelation that John Kirwan was switching to league to play for the Warriors.

He was highly critical of the All Blacks' 2007 World Cup quarter final loss so he opened his last show with an interview with Richie McCaw, the captain of the 2007 team.

"I just wanted to talk to him about our relationship, our relationship went through an interesting patch at one stage. I have admired him immensely," Deaker said.

He will finish with New Zealand's brightest new sporting star, teenage golfing sensation Lydia Ko.

"No other sportsperson has had the impact on me that Ko has had. She is able to bridge the gap between both culture groups. It's very important that we have people who have done that and continue to do it," Deaker said.

Tony Veitch will replace Deaker on Radio Sport, and Wallace Chapman will take over the Sunday programme on Radio New Zealand.

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