The Obituary of Mike Hosking, Died April 1, 2059

by David Slack / 11 November, 2014
Mike HoskingFirst published in Metro, April 2013. Illustration by Daron Parton.


 

Media personality Mike Hosking has returned to his own planet. He was, in Earth years, 94. A memorial service will be held for him on Sunday morning at SkyCity.

Hosking slipped unnoticed into the South Island, disguised as an infant, in 1965 — a time when extensive coverage of the space race made the bright lights of a UFO hovering over Hagley Park no more remarkable than the night trots at Addington. Left to grow, watch and blend with the human population of Christchurch, he led an uneventful childhood, fitting in as an almost normal boy.

The trait he was least able to camouflage would prove to be his making as a broadcaster. Possessed of his species’ capacity to speak at 1700 words a minute, untroubled by emotion and heedless of logic, his staccato speaking style soon drew professional attention. Turners Car Auctions, Pyne Gould Guinness, the Christchurch Greyhound Racing Club all made him offers, but Hosking eventually chose radio.

Dressing himself in a style best described as undertaker chic, he spoke with the patter of a hip young Sydney DJ, though the sentiments he expressed were those of a much older man: reactionary, conservative, wary of change and difference, deferent to his patrician betters. Faithfully, and effectively, he had mirrored the New Zealand he had so carefully observed.

By his early twenties, he was the nationally networked radio talkback host of The Tonight Show, with an audience of 63,210 in New Zealand and 3.1 billion in his home galaxy, where it was often the most popular comedy series of the week.
By his early twenties he had an audience of 63,210 in New Zealand and 3.1 billion in his home galaxy.

Although many New Zealanders had embraced him, National Radio listeners were aghast when chief executive Sharon Crosbie signed Hosking to co-present Morning Report. He did not so much address the microphone as confront it, in a tone that had the audience bracing themselves for a Time Saver Traffic Update and a chat with the Mad Butcher. Letters from outraged listeners clogged the mail and delighted Hosking. By the time he was offered a job presenting breakfast TV, he was entirely without self-doubt.

As so often happens in television, he found himself in a highly charged atmosphere of sexual tension with his co-presenter, Kate Hawkesby. The are-they/aren’t-they drama kept viewers enthralled for several years until TVNZ appointed as head of news the infamously ascetic Bill Ralston. Declaring “that sort of carry-on” to have “no place on TV”, Ralston changed the breakfast menu.

Hosking suddenly found himself in thin career air, finding solace only in his mirror and his comely co-presenter, who gently encouraged him to assume the look of a younger man or, as a less-kindly gossip column had it, “a hairdo that looks like Kate dragged him backwards through a hedge”.

His exile was short, however, and he was soon replacing Paul Holmes on the coveted and widely respected NewstalkZB breakfast show. With editorials and questions that appealed to listeners’ darker angels, he became a firm favourite, with lines such as: “The cycling fraternity have done themselves no good this week. They sound like an up-market trade union; a lycra-wearing grievance society.”

And, of Charter Schools: “You don’t like it? Don’t go. You don’t believe in it? Don’t enrol your kids. You think it will be a disaster? Stay away.” As one listener put it: “He makes it feel okay to put yourself first.”

Hosking is also remembered for unaccountably getting embroiled in debates about the difference between advertising and journalism. He would always treat the issue with a chuckle, saying it was absurd that you “couldn’t interrupt an interview with the Prime Minister to get him to blind taste test cans of Red Bull, without some poser at Metro getting sniffy about it”.

A memorial library is being planned to house transcripts of Hosking’s 40 years of morning editorials. McDonalds-I’m-Lovin’-It-Governor-General Nikki Kaye said, “It’s a rich, awesome heritage and I’m sure it’s what Mike would have wanted in terms of going forward. Except maybe the one about illegal aliens.”

Latest

Vital evidence in Pike River mine disaster missing, say families
102465 2019-02-18 09:22:49Z Planet

Vital evidence in Pike River mine disaster missing…

by RNZ

Some families of Pike River mine victims suspect a piece of vital evidence may have been spirited away by the mining company and lost.

Read more
It's time to empower the mayor and make Auckland liveable again
102432 2019-02-17 00:00:00Z Politics

It's time to empower the mayor and make Auckland l…

by Bill Ralston

Making Auckland a liveable city is an unenviable task, writes Bill Ralston, but it's clear the mayor needs more power.

Read more
Knight star: Sir Hec Busby on his extraordinary life
102328 2019-02-17 00:00:00Z Profiles

Knight star: Sir Hec Busby on his extraordinary li…

by Clare de Lore

Northland kaumātua, master carver, navigator and bridge builder Hec Busby was hoping for “no fuss” when he accepted a knighthood.

Read more
Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period drama Colette
102397 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Movies

Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period dr…

by James Robins

The story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a heroine of French literature, focuses on her early struggles.

Read more
Is barbecued meat bad for your health?
102255 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Is barbecued meat bad for your health?

by Jennifer Bowden

Sizzling meat on the barbecue is the sound and smell of summer, but proceed with caution.

Read more
March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the age of the machine?
102434 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the…

by Jenny Nicholls

Complacently relying on algorithms can lead us over a cliff – literally, in the case of car navigation systems.

Read more
IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computing
102458 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computin…

by Peter Griffin

The Q System One, as IBM calls it, doesn’t look like any conventional computer and it certainly doesn’t act like one.

Read more
James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth gap
102456 2019-02-15 14:54:45Z Politics

James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth…

by RNZ

The week before a major tax report is released, Green Party co-leader James Shaw has again challenged his government partners to back the tax.

Read more