Us Two: RNZ Morning Report's Guyon Espiner and Susie Ferguson

Radio New Zealand Morning Report presenters Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner.
Lawrence Smith/Stuff

Radio New Zealand Morning Report presenters Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner.

Guyon Espiner, 46, and Susie Ferguson, 39, have presented Morning Report together on RNZ for more than 3 years. Espiner is based in Auckland, Ferguson is in Wellington.

GUYON: We did the first three shows from Wellington, then I went back up to Auckland. My main impression of that first morning was thinking that we had nailed it. Walking out into the newsroom, everyone was clapping.

While I've been in the media for quite a long time, I'd never been a strong radio person. Susie had a lot of that experience in elocution and articulation which I still don't really have… I looked to her quite a bit on that.

We got to know each other as the audience got to know us. We never faked it, we never pretended that hey, it's the morning crew, we're going to have this banter. I think, if you listen back, to those early shows, it probably sounds more natural now.

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When we started, we were filling pretty big shoes. Geoff Robinson had resigned and Simon Mercep had been in the job, but also Sean Plunket before that, and, if you go back, Kim Hill and Maggie Barry and Mike Hosking, who you might have heard of.

We got quite a lot of flak from listeners because they don't exactly embrace change. Susie was very supportive in terms of keeping confidence up. I remember at The Press in Christchurch, there was a letter-writing campaign that called us "thugs on radio". Sometimes it's quite hurtful, because it's personal - people say "I don't like your voice", or whatever. I'm a bit more thick skinned now.

It's a long distance relationship. I spend three hours talking to her every day but we see each other three times a year or something. It's been an equal partnership from day one. One isn't going to outshine the other or try and take all the interviews or be the big star. One morning she gets first pick of the interviews, the next morning it's my turn.

Sometimes we'll have a quick chat about strategy for something and she might have some advice for me or I might mention something to her. We'll have thought about it so when I'm listening I'll be thinking "Oh, this person's walked into this one" or, "She's got this one covered." Other times it's like, "Where's this going to go?"

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Listeners will know Susie has a beautiful radio voice - but she sings too, and once sang Flower of Scotland on Morning Report. She's got a really nice, wry sense of humour and sense of the absurd. Some of the politicians probably don't get to see that.

SUSIE: The day I was announced getting the job, my phone rang and it was a number I didn't recognise. A person at the end of the line said: "Ah, hi, it's Guyon Espiner here. I just thought I'd ring to say hello because we're going to be working together a lot."

About two weeks before we went on air, we had to have a whole bunch of photographs taken at RNZ for the website and publicity. I walked into the room and there was Guyon and Wallace Chapman. I kind of looked at him and though, "Oh yeah, he looks like he does off the telly." Inevitably, the photographer got us to stand really close to each other or pretend to have a conversation. It was kind of awkward central. I think we both knew it was going to be like that.

Working in separate cities is our normal. It's our long distance relationship I suppose. It is almost kind of strange when we're in the studio together. He always like to staple his papers together - all his information on one story. I find that a bit weird because I always have reams of paper all over the show.

We've got a lot of bases covered between the two of us. He loves politics and has been doing it for years. If a politician is commenting about something, he can tell you something about how "Oh yeah, but back in the day he used to think the opposite..." He remembers all that kind of stuff, whereas I don't 'cos I'm much newer to New Zealand. Pretty much all of my journalism has been in radio. And having been a war reporter, I've been to some of the places that we talk about, I've seen the aftermath of things like bombings we talk about.

We talk quite a lot during the programme - there's a button you can press. You listen to each other's interviews and say, "Yeah, but hang on, what about this..." It's quite useful having two brains across things.

When we're off air, we spend a lot of our time debating things, or giggling. I have a go at him about his dad jokes. Morning Report's a pretty serious programme, but we do spend a lot of time not talking about serious things. People don't get to hear that stuff.

 - Sunday Magazine


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