And on the line now, Beck of Christchurch

19:53, Oct 26 2012

I have a guilty secret. I feel almost ashamed to admit it, but honesty is the best policy and all that. I like something that repulses me.

I think you can understand. We've all had relationships like this at one time or another - some of us end up marrying them.

Mine is with talkback radio.

I can't help it. Some days are for music in the car, but some trips are for talkback radio, listening to people's opinions and despising them for it.

I go through phases. There was a time many moons ago where I was waking up with the rest of the anxious, depressed and otherwise insomniac-afflicted.

Finding sleep was impossible.


I didn't want infomercials in my eyes and talkback allowed me to feel like I was doing something with my eyes closed.

I've never made a phone call but I've certainly felt like it. Late nights make the best listening although I am partial to a spot of afternoon listening too. In my limited experience, The Outraged tend to call in the afternoon.

I guess it takes a few hours for people to warm up, but by the afternoon, those burning issues are well and truly ablaze.

They've listened to the morning callers and decided THAT NOT ENOUGH IS BEING DONE so they ramp their voice an octave higher and make the call.

Once The Outraged have calmed down and had their dinner, The Tipsy start to call. They are buoyant and ready for a good old chat. The Tipsy die off about 10pm when The Drunk begin to call. By 11pm, The Slurring take over.

These are the interesting hours when the host must show his or her mastery. The lines are no longer busy and these calls must be stretched out as long as possible because only The Mad will appear next.

I enjoy it most when the host gets a whiff of racism and hangs up with a smart comment, or they antagonise those with the truly stupid opinions.

Talkback radio is a love-hate relationship. The love part can be explained thoroughly through the words of a caller to Newstalk ZB's morning host, Mike Yardley, this week.

Yardley announced his retirement from the station and said he'd be hanging up his mic at the end of the year, feeling somewhat ground down by Christchurch's topic du jour/annee/le siecle (earthquakes in case you're busting to read the word again.)

A woman rang.

She was in a hurry and said she didn't have time to muck around because she had a guest.

I imagined her with short grey hair, a purple sweatshirt and loose, shapeless trousers.

I pictured her pouring a cup of tea for her guest and saying: "Do excuse me, I have to make a phone call."

Then she picked up the phone, waited on the line for her turn so she could tell Yardley: "You're a dear little friend to Christchurch."

And that's it really. As much as talkback radio is a receptacle for opinions, or an audible sleeping pill, it is also a "dear little friend" to many listeners.

I have not yet uttered the sentence "long-time listener, first-time caller" but my time will come. I'll be on the post- 10pm time slot, of course.

Fairfax Media