Turning Checkpoint into Campbell Live: Two Years On. Opinion

Friday, December 15 marks the two-year anniversary of John Campbell being appointed to replace Mary Wilson presenting Checkpoint  – a heavily promoted event that marked the start of celebrification at Radio New Zealand. Clearly. it was not a wholly bad idea. After decades of presenting itself as an objective purveyor of news and opinion. RNZ decided to offered heart on sleeve broadcaster and nice guy match the profile of Paddy Gower, and Mike Hosking on Newstalk ZB.

Has the appointment of a celebrity broadcaster been good for RNZ as an institution?

John Campbell’ is the Left wing Mike Hosking

It is certainly a significant change. We are a small country where the state broadcaster is spreading influence by offering its content at low-cost to commercial media. The news operation remains straight, but in my opinion the approach of the public broadcaster since before the election campaign, shows signs of moving to the Left.

RNZ replaced Mary Wilson with=John Campbell.

Wilson had always been the exemplar of objective news journalism when she presented Checkpoint, and remains so in her back-room roles head of news programmes, Its true  sometimes on air, she  was unnecessarily aggressive. But with Wilson Checkpoint was a significant radio bulletin that provided a good summary of where New Zealand was at at the end of each day. I loved the show, but only sporadically listened to it. I preferred it’s straightness to the campaigning Campbell Live.The audience has increased greatly, so in terms of competition and bums on seat RNZ was right to make the chang. The question is whethe that is what public radio is about,

I wonder if RNZ has lost something from its appointment of Campbell, and other celebrities, and lost its focus? John Campbell came from a reputation campaigning TV journalist. And Checkpoint has had some good campaigning stories this year, My sources say Campbell Live pushed out of TV3, partly because Campbell Live was seen by MediaWorks management as too Leftie. Campbell had and has passionate fans and more than 180,000 social media followers. This is the audience that RNZ wanted to attract two years ago.  Next year how Checkpoint – with a history of TV deals with a Labour government with plans to expand RNZ into TV.


RNZ head of content Carol Hirschfeld is a former executive producer of CampbellLive.

With the government promising to pump $38 million into the development of RNZ plus tv service, people like Campbell, head of content Carol Hirschfeld and anybody else with experience in front of the camera seems assured of a strong future in public radio. To be fair to John Campbell, he seems to take his celebrity status seriously, more seriously than many at RNZ. He appears to keep his profile under control, even through he holds a central role in state radio.





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