Morning Report's Mercep gets own show
TV & Radio
A shake-up at Radio New Zealand National will result in Morning Report co-host Simon Mercep moving to his own afternoon programme.
Current afternoon host Jim Mora will take on a role with Mary Wilson on Checkpoint.
Chief executive Paul Thompson said Mercep's show would run from 1pm to 4pm, while Mora would be part of a broader 4pm to 7pm drivetime programme.
Mora would continue with The Panel from 4pm to 5pm, and then work with Wilson on Checkpoint, which would remain from 5pm to 7pm.
Longtime Morning Report presenter Geoff Robinson will leave the show on April 1, with his replacement, Guyon Espiner, starting on a "freshened" show shortly afterwards.
The afternoon changes would probably be about a month later, Thompson said.
A replacement for Mercep on Morning Report had yet to be chosen.
"Clearly with Geoff leaving and Guyon arriving we're having a good look at freshening Morning Report," Thompson said.
"Radio NZ National is a really successful station. It's got terrific, loyal audiences that are really strong, and we just want to make sure we keep freshening and improving it where we can, without introducing any radical change."
Mercep was "extremely excited" about the opportunity to do his own show, Thompson said.
"My view is that he's just got terrific talent and he was ready to take on a show which is a huge step for anyone. This is really positive and he's just jumped at the chance."
On Checkpoint, the key flavour provided by Wilson would continue.
"Mary does just a terrific job, and we want her to continue to do those probing interviews which just are her hallmark, but it actually is a long show for one person," Thompson said.
"It's really quite tough and we think Jim's a terrific broadcaster and has a following. It's a case of bringing them together and just making sure we can do a better job."
Radio NZ was committed where it could to having co-hosting out of Wellington and Auckland for Morning Report and Checkpoint.
An important reason was to build disaster resilience, so if anything happened to the Radio NZ buildings in either city, it could continue to produce the shows.
"It's the time when there'll be something like a major problem in Wellington when the country will be really needing Checkpoint or Morning Report," Thompson said.
Given that approach, it was more than likely the person who replaced Mercep on Morning Report would based in Wellington, but Thompson did not want to close down his options.
Radio NZ had put some new desks and new studios into its Auckland building and over time it would have more staff there.
Wellington would remain the headquarters and the "vast majority" of staff would remain in the capital, but Radio NZ wanted to ensure a good mix of expertise at its other offices.
"We're just very vulnerable otherwise."