Two minutes with: Jack Tame

by The Listener / 14 February, 2013
TVNZ’s New York correspondent Jack Tame is the “it” boy of broadcasting at the moment, stepping into Sir Paul Holmes’s very big shoes on Saturday mornings at Newstalk ZB, and fronting for a few nights at One News over summer. And just 25.
Jack Tame
Jack Tame

Colleagues say you’re wholesome and jolly nice. But ideally you should have a few demons to become a truly great broadcaster. Got any?
I relish isolation. I live alone. I work alone. I’m also a psycho for routine: exercise, meals, tidiness. I’d love to confess to a heavier vice but in truth I’d much rather a wedge of carrot cake than a taste of crack cocaine. Tame (Euurgh …), I know.

What have you been reading lately that has inspired you?
Al Gore’s new book, The Future, though his recent sale of Current TV bemused the cynic in me. I also burnt through Stephen Fry’s autobiography – I’m a sucker for British wit.

You’ve been described as having a puppyish enthusiasm in your news broadcasts … any temptation to stamp that out?
Ha! I’m sure that stems from my relative youth, which I maintain (despite fairly regular puberty quips) is actually nothing to be wished away. I enjoy my job and maintain there’s no crime in a news story being appropriately entertaining. Inform, educate, entertain. If you do the third bit right, the first two are all the more effective.

Where is your favourite place on Earth?
Hmmm. That’s tough. For years I spent everything I had on travel – Havana to Hanoi, Scott Base to Sarajevo. New York, where I live now, is exciting and ever-stimulating but I couldn’t look past the South Island.

Who has influenced you most?
The olds, I’ve no doubt.

You’re driven; what drives you?
I’m terrified of a missed opportunity.

Some commentators have been muttering that you have the potential to one day become a Paul Holmes. Do you?
No, and I don’t think anyone does. Paul was Paul: uniquely gifted and fiercely hardworking, but never fake to an iota. It’s what made him such an incredible broadcaster – the seamless presentation of himself. I respect and admire him enormously and any comparison is an insult only to him. Therefore, in the same puke-worthy notion, I can only aspire to be me.

In the New Year you picked up Sir Paul Holmes’s Saturday morning Newstalk ZB slot. How did that feel?
It was incredibly trusting and generous of them, but personally it was terrifying in that I had no idea what I was doing. Still don’t, as many listeners might well attest. My first show for ZB was my first-ever radio show and I’m very lucky to have so many wiser heads steering me along the way.

Does your rapid rise mean the triumph of the young and the pretty over older, wiser heads in television?
Mine was never a triumph of prettiness. Youth, maybe. But only because young equals cheap. I think we’d be naive not to acknowledge the speed at which media is evolving, but the best stuff is always produced by the wisest heads, whether they be young or old.

Was there a turning point in your life?
Aged 17 and forced to choose between Saturday afternoons at music and theatre competitions, and a colts career at No6. Chicken-legged, 70kg, I was never going to make it as an All Black.

What’s something about yourself that most people don’t know?
Jack Renfrey Tame. It’s a family thing.

Is there anything you’ve done that you regret?
I’m concerned sometimes I work too hard and that my life is a bit lacking in balance. I’m 26 next month – a dinosaur, I know. But I’ve been reporting since 2006. Wishing away youth is not my concern. Working it away is my worry.

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