Morning Report host Sean Plunket quits

QUITTING: Radio New Zealand's Morning Report host Sean Plunket has resigned.
QUITTING: Radio New Zealand's Morning Report host Sean Plunket has resigned.

Long-standing Morning Report co-host Sean Plunket is leaving Radio New Zealand after 14 years.

The combative host's relationship with Radio New Zealand has become increasingly strained in recent times, including a legal dispute over his wish to take up work outside his flagship role.

Plunket confirmed to this morning that he had quit.

"I have tendered my resignation," he said.

Co-host since 1996, Plunket would not give a date for his departure but said he expected to finish around September. Radio New Zealand has since said it will be September 8.

Plunket confirmed he had taken a job as a political columnist with Metro magazine but refused to elaborate on other job opportunities, saying he was looking at a "wide range of options".

Plunket said he was already in discussion with "lots" other employers and was "looking for projects that engage me intellectually and professionally".

"I'm not planning to go on the dole," he said.

He said he was yet to decide whether his next job would be on the radio.

In 2008, Radio New Zealand refused to allow Plunket to write a monthly news and current affairs column for Metro magazine and moonlight as a TVNZ presenter before the election, saying it posed a conflict of interest. It led to the legal dispute between the two parties.

The Employment Relations Authority ruled in Radio New Zealand's favour, saying Plunket had not been singled out for unfair treatment.

In regards to his relationship with his former employer and his reasons for leaving, he said: "I'm a free man and I live in a free country. I have the freedom to decide to leave."

The award-winning journalist said he was proud of his time as host of the show, but no longer wanted to be a "morning person".

"When I took up the job I considered it one of stewardship and I would like to think I have left the place no worse and certainly I would like to think a little better than when I arrived.

"I have enjoyed the support and companionship of everyone I've worked with at Radio New Zealand."

He would miss the working environment at Morning Report, he added.

Plunket described his relationship with his listeners as "love/hate" but said he hoped he had always asked the right questions on their behalf.

"And I think that I have always tried to be unafraid to ask those questions."

He said he felt he had a professional relationship with politicians over the years.

RNZ head of news Don Rood said it was with great regret that he announced Plunket's resignation.

Morning Report enjoyed ratings success as the country's most popular breakfast radio show, Rood said.

Plunket had been a big part of that success.

"I wish him all the best."

RNZ chief executive Peter Cavanagh said he would be very sorry to see Plunket go.

"I can understand why he feels it's time to move on. Sean has made it clear for some time now that he was looking for other opportunities outside Radio New Zealand."

Plunket's departure would leave big shoes to fill in the newsroom, he said.

"The opportunity to present this iconic programme doesn't come up very often and I'm sure there will be a great deal of interest in the role from New Zealand's leading broadcasters and journalists."

- with NZPA