Public Statement about leaving Rhema

On Wednesday of last week I was informed that the Rhema Broadcasting Group would not be renewing Pat Brittenden Mornings for 2013. I was also informed that I personally would not be required for the new incarnation of the 9am to midday show.

From the outset I have always said that as a contractor to RBG that I may, or may not be required at the end of my current contract.

It has been clear since new radio management took over in the last few months that a talk product was not the desired direction in 2013 and last week the decision to move away from talk and back to a yet-to-be-finalised music product aimed at the Christian market was made official.

In the period leading up to that official decision I made it clear to management that I was prepared to look at working with RBG on a music format radio show as many of my 15,000 plus hours on New Zealand airwaves have been working in music along with, in later years, focusing on talk-radio but this offer was not accepted.

I want you to know that this is not a mutual decision, I made it clear that I was available in 2013 should RBG want to use me either in the current form, or in a new style show. They did not.

I hold no hard feelings about the decision, I made the offer to be a contractor at the start of the year, I negotiated the idea of being a contractor rather than an employee and this is one of the pitfalls of that decision.

I also want to state publicly that I am saddened that Rhema has decided to move away from the talk product, I think moving back towards a music product will make for a weaker overall station and will somewhat silence, good intelligent debate and challenging conversations and opinions that not only the church, but society needs to hear. The idea of steel sharpening steel has always been my desire no matter where I was working, it was no different at Rhema. In saying that I again acknowledge that it is RBG’s prerogative to do so, and accept the decision with no animosity and I do genuinely desire to see RBG succeed in everything she does.

I have potentially some very exciting opportunities lining up for 2013 including the television series I have been working on, elephantTV, the media and marketing business that my wife and I run and a couple of other things that need to remain a little more ‘under the radar’ at the moment. I will say as of today I have no other radio opportunities lined up and don’t know if you’ll hear me somewhere else in NZ…or not.

I wanted to put this in writing so as to dismiss any rumour or confusion as to why I have moved on from Rhema. There is nothing worse than the listener of a radio station not knowing what has happened to the host they built a relationship with over a period of time. You may hear rumours of survey results or money, I do not believe these are the main reason for the non-renewal. I believe it simply comes down to not fitting in with the picture or future direction of the station that the new radio management has, a bit of a square peg in a round hole, and that’s okay for those who haven’t worked in radio that’s what happens. A new style comes with a new management and you either fit, or you don’t.

I want to acknowledge the RBG Executive and Board for taking a risk on an announcer who was ‘the most complained about host on Newstalk ZB‘ and pay special credit to Terry Cobham who fought to have me in the building. Also to my executive producer, the back bone of the show, the woman whom I call the ‘CEO’ of Pat Brittenden Mornings, Nerida Ashcroft, what can I say other than “thanks…it’s been a blast!

My expectation as of today is to work out my contract which finishes on December 21st, I look forward to a fun three weeks of broadcasting as we lead up to Christmas and I wish New Zealand’s Rhema all the best for 2013 and hope that I can be involved with her at some stage again on some level.

I would very much like to hear from you if you are a listener of Rhema in the next three weeks, we will be doing a lot of Christmas talkback so hopefully you can join in.

If you would like to keep up with my exciting life in 2013 you can follow me here (I promise to get back into writing), or my facebook page, or twitter account.


UPDATE, Friday 30/11, 3.18pm

I am now at home after a brief chat with my boss. I need to amend part of the above post to say that I am now finished at Rhema. When I was told last week that the show would not be renewed I immediately asked for what the radio industry calls ‘gardening leave’ which basically means you wrap up on air immediately but are technically still employed by the business. I asked my immediate manager, and a manager higher up the food chain and was declined, but today I have been told that that option is where Rhema wants to go.

I am sorry to miss you people who listen to me and not to be able to wrap up the year together, but this is a standard way to finish a contract not being renewed and it means I can look to 2013 and figure out how to ‘pay the bills’ etc…

I have been told by a manager that there are some inaccuracies in the above post, and have offered to change those inaccuracies if they are pointed out to me. My offer was declined and when I asked what was wrong in the post I was told, “it doesn’t matter now, it’s done.” I still make the offer that if I have made an inaccurate statement in the above post, please let me know and I am happy to correct it.

Again let me finish by saying that I am not upset, angry or annoyed with this outcome. I accept that RBG has the right to change direction, and whilst mine, and many other opinions may not agree with the directional change, it’s the right of the group to do so.

Again I say all the best to my colleagues at Rhema, and I do wish all the best for 2013 and beyond.

Helen Kelly, Cameron Slater and the Ports fiasco

Let me start by saying this, I am not anti union. If you look at my record I have supported Union’s causes more times than I have criticized them as can be seen in a post I wrote about the NZEI and National Standards 18 months ago. The interactions and opinions I share now about the Unions and the Ports are solely based on this issue and not a a past of blindly supporting either the Left or Right of this, or any other conversations, about Unions past, present or future.

I wrote a post last week about an interview I did with Garry Parsloe from the Maritime Union but as most talkbacks listeners will be aware this conversation has continued on. Prior to this conversation I had no position on who I believed was right in the debate, and to be honest to this date I would still say that I don’t believe there are any innocent parties here, I don’t believe either side truly bargained in good faith and through obstinate belligerence from both sides we are now at an impasse. For me though the case set before the public now has demonstrated that the Ports in this case are ‘closer’ to being correct that the Unions without the ‘rose tinted glasses’ idea that they have done no wrong.

Yesterday we had Cameron ‘WhaleOil’ Slater on the show yesterday talking about the headlines he had made releasing information of a Port’s of Auckland worker, Cecil Walker, and how he received 21 weeks paid leave in a year where sadly he lost his wife. It would appear that Whale’s point was after Mr. Walker came out and critisized the Ports, he wanted NZ to get a fuller understanding of how this one worker had been treated by his employers.

We had earlier in the week also offered Garry Parsloe to come on the show again, live in studio for a whole hour. We wanted our listeners to be able to interact with him and allow them to make up their own mind. We also offered Richard Pearson the same opportunity so we’d have them both on at the same time but he flatly refused to be in the same room as Mr. Parsloe in a media setting. A testament to perhaps that impasse I spoke of earlier.

In my interview yesterday, Cameron Slater brought up some other information about another case at the Ports where a worker had been dismissed for bullying tactics, a section of the audio is below.

The Port worker was never named, and I don’t believe identified in any way, however for his privacy I have left off the first part of the comment in case anyone knows him personally and can identify him because of that, but certainly to us, the great unwashed, we would never know who this man is by Whale’s comments.

Subsequent to yesterdays show we received a call to my producers cell phone from Helen Kelly from the CTU.

Again I have edited this slightly to protect some personal details that were given out in the message.

Couple of things about the answer phone message. If there has been a slandering of a Port worker I would of course retract and apologise, but from listening to the audio I don’t believe there has been. For me to ‘give [Cameron Slater] space’ on the station being a concern for Helen Kelly is ironic as we have had on Garry Parsloe so many times the news room jokes about giving him his own slot. The opinions and spokespeople for the union position have had far more airtime on my network than the counter view which you heard via Cameron Slater and for Ms. Kelly to say we needed to ‘rectify’ the situation implies that we have done something wrong, which I don’t believe we have. I also got the feeling that there were threatening undertones when Ms. Kelly informed us that ‘[we] were liable for that as well’.

We then spent some time through the morning speaking with Ms. Kelly via phone and email (when I say ‘we’…I mean my producer) and upon offering her a space to reply this morning at 10.35am we received this response via email

As I advised you today this time is unsuitable and was not confirmed nor was it scheduled as a right of reply. Yesterday your show enabled statements to be made about a Port worker that were wrong and extremely damaging to him. We have requested that you apologize for this and have offered you the facts. We would also like the chance to be on the show to talk about the dispute separately from this. I am available at 11 tomorrow and new stories will be available by then of interest to your listeners. Your station operates on a set of principles. When it makes a mistake it should fix it. We are giving you the chance to do this as a settlement of this issue.

Also in a phone call to my producer Helen Kelly said speaking of me, ‘I wouldn’t talk to that idiot on air’ and let us know that ‘the paperwork was in the mail’ which I can only take as a threat of legal action.

Purely by chance we have Cameron Slater on again today as a part of a daily news headlines conversation called The Panel, and whilst talking on air about this issue and the fall out with Helen Kelly Mr. Slater offered to speak directly with Ms. Kelly in studio. I thought this was a great idea so the offer was made to her to come into studio tomorrow at 11am (which if you read her earlier email she was keen to do) and put her concerns directly to WhaleOil. We go a three word email back from that offer.

No thank you.

Subsequent to the now refusal to come on air I have received this message via my facebook page from Ms. Kelly.

Dear Mr Brittenden

I don’t expect to be used by your station in the way you seem intent on doing. I have had a respectful relationship with Rhema and have done many interviews etc. I have asked you to correct a very serious statement made on your Programme about a person who is involved in the Port dispute and to date this has not been done. I would expect you would want to do this if my concern is valid. I have also asked to talk to you about the dispute. I note Mr Slater is saying I have threatened you with suing if you keep using him. You know this is not true. Any liable action will be regarding an uncorrected statement. My offer is still open and I am happy to talk about it with you. I am on 021XXXXXX.

Yours Sincerely
Helen Kelly.

One point, Helen Kelly is correct she never threatened to sue us for using Cameron Slater, I’ve never said that and don’t know where it has come from. However, as you heard in the answer phone message, she doesn’t think we should be using him, and one can assume that Helen Kelly would be happier if we didn’t use Cameron Slater again.

I believe in open and honest conversation, what Helen Kelly wants is communication on her terms. I think it’d be great to have both parties in the studio to discuss this situation. As the public we are still in a position of ‘he said/she said’ and both sides are calling each other liars. That doesn’t help the public perception or knowledge of this situation.

The invitation is still open…and there is no issue with my show and Helen Kelly. If there is another conversation worthy item in the future you can bet we will still be contacting her for comment.

I also have a challenge to both sides. If indeed there was slander yesterday of a Port worker in my show then have the Port worker contact me. I wouldn’t think it possible that a Union President can bring any kind of legal action against a media outlet if one of there members was slandered, surely it would need to be taken by the person who has been slandered. But equally Cameron Slater says he has the evidence that his claims are accurate and correct, I’d be happy to see that as well Mr. Slater.