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18th of July 2018

Entertainment



The AM Show: Sub-zero temperatures, Winston snubs and Belgian comebacks all in a morning's work

Duncan Garner and The AM Show are broadcasting from locations in Queenstown, Nelson, Napier and Rotorua until July 13. 222 Photographic Studios

Duncan Garner and The AM Show are broadcasting from locations in Queenstown, Nelson, Napier and Rotorua until July 13.

At 5.35am, it was -1.9C.

It would be the highest temperature the barometer would read until production for the day wrapped. And rather than looking glamorous, gloves, hats and thermal vests were the order of the day for the three hosts, lest they freeze in place.

Welcome to The AM Show – Queenstown edition.

Both The AM Show and Chorus hope to benefit from their two-week, four-town tour. 222 Photographic Studios

Both The AM Show and Chorus hope to benefit from their two-week, four-town tour.

Part of a two-week, four town road-trip (which also takes in Nelson, Napier and Rotorua), the three-morning broadcast from the Central Otago tourist town is no small feat. In fact, it's a Remarkables one.  The usually Auckland-based studio set has been fully replicated, massive outside broadcasting trucks and have been hired and around 45 of the regular crew are being shipped around the country.

It's only day two and there have already been one significant challenge – Mark Richardson had to rush back to Auckland after Monday's show to deal with an undisclosed crisis on his "other" programme The Block. Nicky Styris, who was scheduled to take over from Richardson for Wednesday's show, was flown in early and placed on standby, just in case the former Black Cap's taxi-plane-taxi-20-minute-job-taxi-plane-taxi combo failed to get him back to Queenstown on-time.

READ MORE:* The AM Show: Winston Peters' naughty ban revoked, but he's a no show * Dancing With the Stars: AM Show hosts rule out following in Sam Hayes' footsteps* Acting Prime Minister Winston Peters uninvited from The AM Show for the next six weeks* The AM Show: Duncan Garner slams RNZ show for aneurysm 'prank'

Even when the sun came up, the temperature remained firmly below zero on the The AM Show-set in Queenstown on Tuesday ... 222 Photographic Studios

Even when the sun came up, the temperature remained firmly below zero on the The AM Show-set in Queenstown on Tuesday morning.

But, to relief all around, he's made it back in time, joining Duncan Garner and Amanda Gillies in the open-air marquee nestled in right beside Lake Wakatipu. It's an environment a clearly chilly Garner describes on-air as "effectively a freezer".

Speaking in the relative warmth of the main broadcasting truck, head of operations Darren Fouhy says their biggest concern isn't the cold, but rather rain or snow, which could affect the show's (simulcast on both radio and television) audio. He says they have headsets ready to go should the eventuality arise.

"Originally we looked at trying to build a big perspex box, but it was too expensive and no one had done it before."

Amanda Gillies says The AM Show hosts have become "a bit like a family" during their 18 months together. 222 Photographic Studios

Amanda Gillies says The AM Show hosts have become "a bit like a family" during their 18 months together.

Time was of the essence, he says, with the "go button" on this project only pushed 12 weeks ago.

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It has been challenging dealing with four different councils on the project, Fouhy says.

"We did six flights in two days going from city to city for meetings. Every council is unique in the way they handle something like this. There has been lots of red tape, building permits, environmental stuff and traffic management, but the biggest struggle we've had is trying to explain the scale of this. It isn't just a camera operator and a journalist. It was really hard to explain to them that we were going to bring in 15-metre and 12-metre trucks, generators and a marquee."

Negotiating locations was also key for Fouhy.

"I made the mistake a few years ago with [former Mediaworks breakfast show] Sunrise when we set up at [Christchurch's] Riccarton Racecourse and nobody knew we were there. We had beautiful shots and it was a beautiful day, but we may as well have been in the studio. You need to create an event around something like this."

Hence, the central Queenstown location and other sites like Nelson's Trafalgar St and Napier's Marine Parade. "But there are a few issues with that one because it's not far from the port, so we will have some big trucks going past us."

Mark Richardson warmed to the task in Queenstown despite the sub-zero conditions. 222 Photographic Studios

Mark Richardson warmed to the task in Queenstown despite the sub-zero conditions.

The two Wednesdays will be the biggest days for the crew, Fouhy says, as they arrive at 4.30am do that morning's show then pack up and head for their next destination, where an entirely new replica set will be waiting for them. He expects they could be pulling 18-hour shifts on those days as they make sure everything is sorted for the following morning's broadcast.

"I've got to shout a lot of pizzas," he laughs

Integral to both the tour's concept and logistics has been Kiwi telecommunications infrastructure company Chorus. Mediaworks Chief customer officer Glen Klyne says Chorus came to them at the start of the year looking for a way to increase their brand presence.

The AM Show could be working up to 18 hours days on their two-week tour of the country. 222 Photographic Studios

The AM Show could be working up to 18 hours days on their two-week tour of the country.

"We said, 'we've got a little show that goes on-air five days a week', and they said, 'well we really want to get some exposure in the heartland', and we said, 'well we could probably take this show on the road'."

Having thawed out slightly after a rollercoaster of a show that included an acting Prime Ministerial snub, a stranded Thai football team, an amazing come-from-behind Belgium victory at the World Cup and yes, a certain amount of swearing, Garner says rather than feeling compromised by the commercial tie-up with Chorus, it was an opportunity because it meant this important tour could happen. "I was a huge advocate for it, but I thought it couldn't be done in the end without a sponsor."

Reminding his co-hosts that he undertook a no-budget tour of the country in a bright orange Holden Commodore in one of his previous role as Radio Live Drive host, he says going out and introducing yourself to audiences and convincing them to be loyal is vital for a show's longevity.

The significantly warmer base of operations for The AM Show On Tour. 222 Photographic Studios

The significantly warmer base of operations for The AM Show On Tour.

"Our opposition have been around for decades and have loyal, strong followings. We are still very much in that challenger status, so we not only have to say we are here, we also have to convince them to come across – 'please try us, like us, follows us'."

Delighted with the generous and lovely response to them so far, Garner says these tours are also good things to do because while radio is intimate to a certain level, "when you come into towns like this and get face-time with people, you can actually see what they really think of you, because you can see their eyes, see their expressions".

Chiming in, Gillies cites the example of a mother and daughter who flew in from Christchurch to Queenstown just to meet them and were flying back the same day.

The AM Show staff needed to rug up warm for their three-day stint in Queenstown. 222 Photographic Studios

The AM Show staff needed to rug up warm for their three-day stint in Queenstown.

"Were they disappointed? Underwhelmed?" laughs Garner.

"They were lovely," Gillies responds.

"They weren't impressed though that Mark wore jeans after he promised to wear shorts and jandals – they thought he was a bit soft."

Attempting to defending himself, a mock-indignant Richardson says, "I was keen to do it, but it would have been stupid".

When asked if touring together will make or break the hosting trio's so far 18-month relationship, Gillies laughs that it helped that Richardson had to go back for a night on Tuesday.

"It sounds a bit naff, but we've become a bit like a family and these two have become like brothers. There's no tension, everyone tells it how it is, pokes fun at each other and has a laugh."

Garner takes the family analogy a step further, describing Richardson as like the "aging brother" he never had.

"Mark is one of the most-focused, resilient individuals I think I've worked with. He will always be there and you know you can rely on him."

Richardson says missing out on time with his colleagues was one of the reasons he was so annoyed about his unexpected Auckland trip on Monday.

"I hate team-building, but I would have loved to have done some stuff with these guys. I had Dunc around to my house the other night when we christened the man cave. Seldomly do I open up my private life to my work colleagues. I worked with Andrew Mulligan for 11 years and he only came around once and that was about six years later."

Garner reveals it was actually his second visit to the Richardson household. Garner, his mother and son Buster spent Christmas Day there, because, in true New Zealand-fashion, their "mothers went to school together".

Asked how working with journalists compares to international cricketers, Richardson says, "sportspeople require far less maintenance".

"Here, you've just got to keep feeding the ego the whole time".

"I'd like to deny that, but I can't," Gillies responds.

All three admit they still aren't morning people, with Richardson adamant that he wouldn't wake up in time if his alarm didn't go off.

"I grump around and I'm not very sociable when I arrive, but then the good thing is I will go and sit at my computer, I'll look through the notes and you can guarantee something will just p... me off and then I'm up."

It's something Gillies is quick to confirm.

"He'll be sitting there and you'll hear him go, 'oh, f… this, oh, f.. this'. I'll ask him, 'what are you upset about today?' and he'll go, 'I've just read this bloody article', and I'll think, 'oh, my God, it's going to be a long day'."

Running until July 13, The AM Show Tour has remaining stops in Nelson (July 5 and 6), Napier (July 9 to 11) and Rotorua (July 12 and 13). 

 - Stuff

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