The Barry Jenkin Saved My Life Facebook group takes its name from legendary cutting-edge radio DJ Barry Jenkin who pioneered challenging listening on commercial radio in New Zealand, especially and specifically on his early 1980s midnight-to-dawn ZM All-Nighter radio show. The show focused on ground-breaking punk, post-punk and new wave alternative music that you would never hear on any other commercial radio station.

For many it was a blast of bracing fresh air, and it really did change and challenge the perspectives (lives) for many who happened to chance across the show after midnight.

The Facebook group was started by Carl James who sincerely professes that the group’s name rings true for him, and he is still – 40 years later – a keen enthusiast of the music. “The name of the group was very intentional, I really do feel like he impacted my life in a very, very significant way, I don’t know what would have happened if I hadn’t found his midnighter show and I thank him for that.

“He was a beacon in a dark wasteland of mainstream media and the Christchurch suburban wasteland in which I was living. The second I heard his voice introducing the Comsats or the Bunnymen, the Sound, Au Pairs, SLF etc etc etc, I knew my life had changed. He’s a fucking legend!”

Barry Jenkin Saved My Life has since grown to over 1500 members and fearlessly discusses and unearths music in the style of Barry’s original show, challenging inventive sounds that set the ears alight. 

The group boasted Barry as one if its members and he regularly dropped in to check the posts. On 29 April 2015 he kindly agreed to answer some probing questions from the group and chat live about music and radio.


How did you get on to punk and new wave, and was it after you left Hauraki? I’d love to know how you went from Hauraki to and playing Led Zep to ZM and Killing Joke. – Lindsay Eadon

I remember reading the 1977 Rip It Up interview in which you utterly panned the nascent punk rock movement. A few months later, to one’s surprise and delight, you were playing all of this music on your show. Did the music suddenly get better, or something? Please tell us about the factors and folks that brought about this rapid epiphany. – Duncan McRae

[I will] maybe try to answer both Lindsay and Duncan. I was working (if you can call it work) on both Hauraki – where I had a deal with management that I could play what I wanted – and the RWP [Radio With PIctures] telly gig. Radio first. Early 1977 along comes John Lydon/McLaren’s mob. The Sex Pistols. WTF?, I went, bit over the top. Played ’em. Thought pretty much the same. I had the luxury of access to a lot of music then. Went on happily as usual. Wasn’t long until in the bowels of the telly in Shortland Street a clip arrived. I saw The Stranglers. Failing to get a grip, I rewound and played all afternoon. It was a shock. They could really play. Then there was a Boomtown Rats clip where someone from the front row of the audience got up and smacked Geldof in the face. He just went on singing. Got to be something going on here. Got hold of The Damned (remember this is early). Gave the Pistols another crack. Dozen others, I’d got it by now so frantically siphoned off as much new material as possible. It wasn’t enough but you’ve got to get lucky sometimes.

I’d flown to Wellington to try to find more and chanced to sit next to the director-general of the NZBC. A wonderful man named Geoffrey Whitehead. I bent his ear about the dearth of new music in New Zealand. The record companies weren’t going to release this noise as they saw it (although they did mostly give me their samples). He said he was going to England very soon and he’d see what he could do. Got to admit I was a bit skeptical, but did he ever come through. He organised a man with a van to start in Leeds, zigzag across the Midlands and go to Lunnun collecting records. This was delivered to New Zealand House and via the diplomatic bag to Head Office Record Purchasing, Wellington, and on to me. Which explains why the music got better. I cannot stress how badly broadcasting generally should miss that man. He understood the Monty Python principle. The-then BBC ethos of a broadcast organisation providing access, even encouragement for actors/musicians to make fun of them. Gone as a concept now everywhere.

Well I guess I’ve covered how it started but I’ll tell you how it finished. The first time anyway. I was about two years into a three-year stint with Hauraki, managing to make what new music I’d collected – and been given by local bands – work, but I’d pitched out all the stuff I’d been playing before, which [had given] me 51% of the listening audience on drive time. I knew what would happen but I couldn’t help it. Having “got it” I could hardly ignore it. Ratings plummet ensued and one day the programme director left a pile of Stones, Doors, Zeppelin etc. on my desk with an order to play these. Tried integrating the old with the new but couldn’t be done. Hauraki was in Caltex House at the time.

A young student who was pumping gas said “What the fuck happened to your show?” I went “You mate, are right”.

I went downstairs to the gas station. A young student who was pumping gas said “What the fuck happened to your show?” I went “You mate, are right”. Bloody depressing. I had to quit the next day which of course was the desired outcome for the board. Wilderness for a while then got invited back to 1ZM. Apparently, the broadcasting commissioner at the time, Bruce Slane, granted ZM a 24-hour broadcast licence (before, they had to close down at midnight) on condition they played “alternative music” mid-dawn. Sounds like a job for ... Mr Bloody Lucky. Had a network then, too. 1ZM 2ZM 3ZM – and the classical station in Hastings, which switched at midnight to me. Must have been a rude shock.

Music was pouring in from the UK and very happy, thank you. ZM at the time was considered the least important station so nobody was too concerned about ratings, especially midnight-dawn, which suited me just fine. Problem was I did the weekdays – and weekends came from Wellington, with a series of blokes who were “unconverted”. To be fair they didn’t have my library down there but then a bloke came on who was on to it. He was Andrew Paige. I asked him if he’d move to Auckland. Said yes. It was cool with the boss, and we worked seven days on, seven off. Nirvana. Went on for a couple of years until I screwed up. My mate Blackie was either going to, or leaving, Hauraki. Party. Drink was Carlsberg. Didn’t notice the 9% on the label. Beer was 4% then.

Got pissed, but knew it. Only one other person could do it. Andrew, and I couldn’t locate him. Went on air and went to sleep. The powers that were had been gunning for us and there was the excuse on a plate. Unemployed again.

Sorry. Probably got a lot more than you bargained for but us wrinklies tend to go on a bit.


How hard was it to get new records back then? And how many of the records you played did you actually possess, and how many were dodgy taped copies? – Sharon Watson

I’d grab anything I could get. There were a few people who would bring records from overseas. (Remember records? Round, black, hole in the middle like tyres.) Exotic but remember the UK was damn nearly a year ahead of us. A bloke rang me and said “My name’s Jimmy Carter and I have records for you.” I swear he had a Georgia accent so I went, Yeah right. Turns out he was from Georgia but he was a Pan Am pilot and a mate in London had indeed given him records for me.

I’m sorry Sharon but I don’t remember specifically taping music but no way I’d deny it. Very few bootlegs because live music never translated to AM radio very well. There was too much “clean dirt” in the signal to start with. Not like the more precise but somewhat sterile FM signal. Having said that, I would raid John Peel’s show unashamedly some of which was live.

How did you select tracks to play? Was it a question of trawling through vinyl imports or did you also have others tipping you to interesting bands and releases? – Mark Williard

It was pretty simple, Mark. I was able to play what I wanted to. David Gapes set the benchmark at Hauraki, and I suppose I bullied everyone else into believing that still applied. Also, at ZM I had the luxury of a paid subscription (courtesy again of Geoffrey Whitehead) to both NME and Melody Maker so of course I took a lot of notice of what the critics were pushing. Mostly, I thought they were right. Witness the huge and deserved promotion of Howard Devoto. Lovely man. He gave me a beer crate full of reggae when he was here. Then he said he was “sick of noise and short of breath”, left The Buzzcocks and formed Magazine. Need anyone say more. Guess I’m straying into Justine’s question apart from to say I went to nearly all of the gigs locally and was a dedicated reader of Murray and co’s Rip It Up mag. The station’s role however was to leave me the hell alone which was fabulous and all I ever wanted. Had that attitude (or the lack of it) most of my career. Unbelievable luck really.

Barry Jenkin in Rip It Up, issue 4, September 1977. Read here

How did you keep abreast of all the new stuff (was it a mix of records being sent/ seeing gigs/ recommendations (and what was the station’s role)? – Justine McLisky

Comparing it to how easy it is to access music these days, was the near-archaeological dig aspect of the hunt for gems there for you or were you awash with material from all sides? If so do you think that the rarity and effort to access music made the music experience better (compared to the present day and the new generation consuming music in new ways)? – Rob Mayes

Probably spent more time digging and trolling record company samples than I did on the air in the early days. Then more local recording was done, and the pipeline to the UK came on stream via the DG, so it got easier to fill five or six hours a night. The problem was almost the way it is now. Sheer over-choice. There is so much available now it is a question of separating the nuggets from an ocean of dross. Even back then there weren’t enough hours in the day to guarantee you’d found the gems. I’d give everything about 20 bars each track and decide whether that particular song was ever going to recover from that turgid intro or not and in most cases I’d piss it off. 

There is so much available now it is a question of separating the nuggets from an ocean of dross.

Must have often been wrong but only against my own yardstick. What’s a yard granddad? One thing is becoming obvious. The enormous amount of music in a comparatively narrow discipline on this site is a worthwhile archive of a magnificent outpouring of challenging and rule-breaking music of a comparatively short era. I feel a bit sorry for those who were too young to be there. These days there are so many options to source, all you need is huge amounts of time and a very sensitive bullshit filter.

Do you still have your vinyl collection, and do you still play the stuff you played back then?

Does anything nowadays give you the same joy it did back then – the stuff you just want to play 10 times in a row? – Mike Ringdahl

Personal faves that still come to mind? – Mark Williard

Confession time. I hardly listen to a damn thing these days. The radio isn’t giving me what I want in spite of there being upwards of 40 signals in this town alone. I’ve still got a groaning cupboard of maybe three and a half thousand albums most of the key tracks on which I’ve converted to MP3. Not as good as vinyl I know but a hell of a lot easier to manage. I came from AM radio which was never a comfortable medium for an audio file. What I do regret was being an idiot – honest – when I got fired from ZM the last time. I had to sit in the studio with the great Jim McMillan from Head Office record purchasing and give back all the albums the NZBC had imported and paid for. They went to Wellington to be stored. Then they pulled down Broadcasting House and I believe they were eventually sold to Real Groovy. Should have kept the bastards. Hope some members of this site got at least some of them. As far as joy in music is concerned, it happens very rarely and usually by accident, or someone pushing me towards a band or a song. Still works but the bites are few and far between these days.

Do you think that there is anything identifiable which has caused the breakdown of experimentation in fringe music in the last 30 years? – Aidan Howard (DJ and arts director Radio b 1980-83; arts editor Craccum 1984-2000)

Punk went not with a bang but with a whimper. By the mid-80s punk had gradually morphed into what was labelled new wave, some of which was terrific. Costello for example:

Radio is a sound sensation
Radio is cleaning up the nation
They say you better listen to the voice of reason
But they don’t give you any choice ’cause they think that it’s treason
So you better do as you are told
You better listen to the radio

What a song. Then there was “She’s filing her nails while they’re dragging the lake”. Stunning. But as time went on the music softened and became diluted. Synthesisers crept in. Some were exceptions. Pet Shop Boys come to mind and the seminal ‘Tainted Love’ but the trend was downhill to the cesspit of bland and formulaic. That staggered on until rap arrived. Although there was still the same 90% ratio of shit to clay, I was no expert, and at my age it became work. Getting too long in the tooth to delve into the abyss. Coupled with the fact that the overwhelming number of new bands and releases is so daunting I don’t know why anyone picks up a guitar anymore.

number one hits usually suck. You’re always hoping for the one that doesn’t. Swingers anyone?

The sky is still the limit but a genuine talent is usually stifled by the expectations of the current marketplace. It still happens when a ripper song can go number one, but number ones usually suck. You’re always hoping for the one that doesn’t. Swingers anyone?

Looking at the last 40 years of commercial radio, it’s clear to see that bucking the trends is not how commercial radio works so, with that in hindsight, did you know you were going out on a major limb with your show? – Rob Mayes

When I was young and the covered wagons were rolling across the prairie I was just grateful to be first selected and second employed by the NZBC. Matter of fact I failed the commercial section of the initial interview. I was brought up in a classical household. My old man could swear for a full minute without repeating himself if he thought a given conductor was not to his idea of perfection, which meant it was 1YC or his record collection of the masters. I guess I inherited a good deal of my later intolerance from him. Anyway, it meant I had no clue what a commercial radio announcer should sound like, so I stuffed up the audition. However I was the only one they had seen who could pronounce all the classical composers correctly so they hired me for 1YC [the Concert Programme]. Ha!

Then someone said bung him through the commercial course and see what happens. They actually had a training centre then. Ye gods, what a concept. Got through that and they sent me off to 2ZA Palmerston North. The station, as they all did then, had a Programme Department whose job it was to supply the “Announcer” (stop laughing you young ’uns in the back) with a stack of records according to some unfathomable formula. Fortunately the bloke about my age who did it (name of Chris Muirhead) was on to it and gave me the good oil. Might have had a slow start but after a while I figured I could recognise good rock’n’roll when I heard it. Also, all the boss “Programme Organiser” was interested in was the National Programme and he left me the hell alone to get on with it. All I ever wanted. Had a fan club called The Rebels who met in a “phone box” in Dannevirke. So in those days it wasn’t a matter of going against the grain or going out on a limb. Didn’t have to. The establishment didn’t seem to care. Three years in exile then 1ZM. Lucky there too. Same deal. Programme bloke, Peter Fyers, was on the same frequency, fed the good stuff. Mates. Worked together and never had a cross word. Have to remember ZM then was pretty structured. I mean we’d only just got rid of the Lever bloody Hit Parade with Selwyn bloody Toogood. Give us a break, but they did.

ZM then as now, was focused on pop but it was beginning to rock and they left us alone to do just that bless ’em. Kicking against the pricks came later. Jeez. I’ve run off at the mouth a bit, but you did ask me to go back 40 years.

After the ZM All-Nighter and RWP what did you do next? – Justine McLisky

The problems at RWP came first. Again, it all started well. The original producer who got me hired knew me from radio. Another lovely bloke, sadly dead now, and [Allan Martin] the boss of South Pacific Television, as it was then, was an older man but on to it. Left the pair of us to get on with it.

The show then was linked together with graphics and Allan thought the clips needed some explanation and information. Therefore, a presenter. For reasons I didn’t know, producers were rotated. There were several including Peter Grattan who turns up on this site sometimes. We got along fine. Remember this was 1976, pre-punk.

Enter Andrew Shaw who shall we say was a little more commercially oriented than I was. He wanted to play music I thought was more suited to the pop show Ready to Roll and we started to fight like Kilkenny cats especially when 1977 arrived. I’m afraid I began to stamp my foot and get bolshie. Not a good idea but guess who won in the long run? He ended up running the place but he needn’t have worried about the ratings. They shifted our time slot all over the place. Sunday night, Monday, Tuesday, didn’t matter. RWP outrated anything they threw against us. It was a phenomenon.

‘Radio With Pictures’ outrated anything they threw against us. It was a phenomenon.

I remember being at Pete Fyers place one night, there was a knock at the door and 16 people came in. It was time to watch RWP. All in the wrong demographic of course. They were all young. Anyway. They put up with me for three years and then I got the push. Then it happened at ZM. Own fault but it was a double whammy and I took it hard. Went to the mattresses, turned my back on music, people and the human race in general for a long time, only getting out to do a few commercials, which kept me alive, thank God.

Went on for ages until somebody persuaded me to do one night a week on Campus Radio [now bFM]. Went on for years but the money’s no good etc. Also did a potted history of various bands with Camilla Martin. Out of the blue, Mike Regal, PD at Hauraki, asks me to do a Sunday night a week. He must have been mad but that lasted a while and I got paid a bit. Getting a bit jaded by then so I buggered off to Sydney, crashed a voice-over talent agency and did pretty well as the new kid in town. Did a political campaign nobody else wanted to do in case they lost, but they won in a landslide and became the State Government. As a result, Sir Peter Ables gave me a bundle of money for not working for anybody else but his companies and I’m happier than a sackful of sandboys. Professionally anyway. Probably don’t know what a sandboy is or was but I’m older than you. Mr American Spellcheck thinks I’m full of errors but I don’t care.

Barry Jenkin describes his show, Auckland Star, 13 August 1981. 

Could you give us a “Desert/Waiheke Island” selection of, say, 10 or 15 songs you couldn’t do without in your life? 

Can you think of five or so memorable concerts/events and five or so that left you disappointed for any reasons?

If you were DJing today and could develop an ideal studio and format for yourself how would it look, including any novel forms of marketing that you may not have tried back in the heyday?

Did you ever visit any great rock’n’roll institutions, shrines or memorials overseas, and if so what were sensations did you feel when present there?

I read where (your daughter) Andra mentioned that you had never received a major award in music. Are there some marks of recognition of any significance that you have been honoured with?

Who was the most bizarre punk rock or new wave personality you ever met, and for what antics or idiosyncrasies? – Duncan McRae

Bugger. Got to admit I dreaded this one because it calls for a lot of thinking with early generation brain RAM. I’m going to fudge it a bit and cite albums and songs as well as or instead of tracks. Example PIL – Public Image. One song. There were others but that was a song. Standout. There would have been somewhere about a thousand in the years up to 1977 but I’ll try to keep focus on since then. Johnny Thunders – ‘Born to Lose’. Now that’s rock’n’roll. Live fast, die young and have a good-looking corpse. He did. The quintessence. Fortunately we’re all alive. Got a soft spot for the Stranglers. Scavengers – and by the way check out ‘Drunk Again’ from Johnny’s Loudhailer, anything by them, really. Ramones. Love the One that’s left. I Wanna Be in Auckland Tonight (The Androidss). Riot Squad. Newmatics. It really was us and them. Blam Blam Blam. Many songs. Talking Heads, who made funk respectable again. Roky Erickson. Stooges. Costello. The Gordons, who loaned the Herco Pilots their gear when it was stolen outside the Gladstone. RAM is working. Wire. The Members. Only a couple but a great gig at the Kings Armpit. The Mekons. Shayne Carter and bands. Enuff already. Numbers 1977-87 approaching 100. Concerts. Talking Heads was the best. Astonishing. Byrne was t-t-t-totally wired. Tina’s bass was bigger than she was and from the start after every song there was dead silence from the audience. They were stunned. The band thought they were Dying in Public but they just got better. Same result. Dead silence all the way through. End of the gig the place went nuts. Stomping, yelling, whistling it just went on.

Tried to interview David. Impossible. He was so nervous. Monosyllabic. AK79 reunion. Blam-matics. Parts of Sweetwaters. Too many. Bummers? Roxy Music. Poor old chap, Bryan had to have a little lie down for half the gig. Band were good though. Can’t recall too many bummers. Don’t want to really.


Addendum to Duncan McRae’s Q: R&R places. A few in LA. Anaheim, the sleazy end of Hollywood Blvd. Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Chelsea Hotel NY. It’s good to know where the song came from. Bit off topic but Fagan and Becker wrote ‘The Caves of Altamira’. Just south of San Diego there’s a hillside. The sun was low casting shadows and the entire hill was uniformly full of what looked like caves. They were the arched entranceways to hundreds of units of a retirement community called Altamira. There are hundreds of R&R places mentioned in songs. When Neil Roberts was running Communicado we were planning a coast-to-coast trip to visit and record a bunch of them. He went to run TVNZ and then died, which some people think amounts to the same thing.

Neil Roberts went to run TVNZ and then died, which some people think amounts to the same thing.

Personalities? Lou Reed. First time he came here he was so off his face he had to be led round by the shoulders by his factotum. Second time it was made clear that anyone caught with drugs of any kind would be fired. Hypocritical. Had him for two hours on air at Hauraki. Brilliant, talented, now-dead bastard. I think Lou Reed got lost from the beginning.

Would you have played MIA if they were a band back then? – Simon Smythe

Yes, I’d have played MIA but selectively. Couldn’t DJ today. Too far away from what is relevant. It’d just be nostalgia. I thought that sucked until I got to my age. As for not living without. There’s a lot of silence at my place these days. It’s your fault. You woke me up. Actually, you all did. Thank you. I think. Anyway, where were you when I needed you? No internet. Oh right.

Local content on commercial radio wasn’t really embraced or widely known about. How did you get into local alternative music, get your info and material for local content? – Rob Mayes

As far as getting local material goes, anything a bit left-field I was the only game in town, Came in from all over. We must’ve had nearly as many DIY record companies as the UK. Maybe not. They had about 500 then. Way down to just the majors now. Almost the same here but if your swinging by New Lynn grab me a powertool will ya.

One thing I do encourage anyone to do. Register with APRA. I used to hate ’em. Big office in Sydney sustaining only themselves but they got here and got better. People get paid now sometimes. If you ain’t on the books, you don’t. Just two weeks in every year radio stations had to write down every song, artist, publisher and length. That was amortised over the year and payment made. I used to collect everything local and lie I played all of it.

What were your thoughts about The Gordons and did you ever see them play live ie, at XS Cafe, Auckland Uni, Rumba Bar? Do you remember giving them airtime in 1980-82? – Michael Sea

Love the Gordons to bits. Always thrashed them. Also Bailterspace, although I never understood the significance of the name. Still don’t. Saw them live at Auckland Uni. Can’t remember the other venue. Happy to say it’s a bit of a blur. I understand they’re playing around NYC now. More power to them I say. Fantastic writers and musicians.

I’m Ben from Alms for Children/ This Sporting Life. Barry, you supported us massively. I want to ask about the time you helped us, Herco Pilots and Danse Macabre tour to Christchurch. You flew a light plane with Harry, Gary and Simon (I think) but got massively delayed and vanished off the radar according to Christchurch air control mid-way. We drove vans down and wondered what the outcome was going to be ... – Ben Hayman

No, I’m not a rock’n’roll pilot, Ben. That was Lynyrd Skynyrd. Fact was we had a fair old headwind, so I decided to refuel at New Plymouth. Position reported every half hour to Auckland Information. Dunno why they didn’t pass it on to Christchurch Air Traffic Control. Took a while to organise but finally set [off] heading for Christchurch and arrived safely. Time it took with that bloody headwind, might as well have driven with you guys. Fun though. So were the AFC (not Air Force Cross)/ Hercos sessions at Harlequin.

Did you ever write out a playlist for the show? Or to that matter did anyone else concerned with your show? Could it still be in existence somewhere in the bowels of ZM? Did you keep a separate record of what got played, performance sheets etc?
What acts come to mind that you played that rapidly crossed the threshold to being a pile of poo? (I’m thinking Flock of Seagulls here)

At the time did you know how many people were listening in and were you aware of the impact your show was having? – Mark Williard

Playlist? God no. At Hauraki I had the station library next door. Spent more time in that , ratting through for what to play next while the previous record was playing. Didn’t use the chair. At ZM the second time (or was it the third?) I had my own library. Problem was it was down one flight of stairs. Got fit.

Music sells and charts in inverse proportion to its quality. My opinion only, probably.

The first time at ZM I got fed programme by Pete Fyers and added my own. There would have been written lists then, but it all went to Wellington and ZM moved. Lists will be at the Wellington dump along with the contents of both libraries. The STC or shit to clay ratio, it was nearly always 90/10 against. Music sells and charts in inverse proportion to its quality. My opinion only, probably. Listeners? Had to assume there were some. As long as there was one, otherwise what am I doing there. Always had one in mind. That way it’s a one-way conversation. Must admit, must have been a fair few. Had a network after all and record company people told me they were selling some bands they didn’t expect to. Mind you, I knew people who would rather buy a record than eat.

You weren’t new to the radio game and had worked in “format” radio already, did you know you were being a “troublemaker” at the time? Were there others in commercial radio people like you who didn’t make it to their own show on their own rules but still had the same ideals for challenging the listener as you? It’s easy to think of all commercial radio as filled with pandering suit wearers, tell us this isn’t the case? – Rob Mayes

Troublemaker? Who me? Nah. I just thought they didn’t care but then I was always the last to see the headsman. It was pretty nailed down to format even then. The suits (with that one exception) either ignored me or I bullied them for a few years and got away with it. Nearly all radio is now corporatised. There’s hardly a DJ in the land that doesn’t think he’s a programme director but there’s not much scope now. Boardrooms have ears and in a lot of cases …

“It’s only inches on the reel-to-reel /
And the radio is in the hands of such a lot of fools /
Tryin’ to anesthetise the way that you feel”
– ‘Radio Radio’, E Costello esq.

Buck the system and they will be drawing a bead then and now. There’s loads of jocks who’d love to do their own thing. Bloke called Thrasher comes to mind but ya gotta stay employed mostly. There are a few brave souls who have their own LPFM [low-powered FM] station that can do as they like to an extent but you’re not going to get rich doing that. I know. I had one. Vacuum cleaner in your back pocket.

Once you established your show was there pressure on you from the audience and bands to favour their material? (So many hungry mouths to feed, so few outlets, so many alternative bands in New Zealand and so few places to get their music heard.) If so, how did you deal with that? – Rob Mayes

This one’s fairly simple. Whatever came in, global or local, I listened to. I was a majority of one so I got to be arbiter of taste. Whatever was in those grooves that bit me immediately I played. Usually gave some another listen in case I’d missed something, and local music did have a loaded advantage, but what I played was what met between my ears. Several years played wall-to-wall local for the month of May. Luxury but harder than you might think.

Rob Mayes with Barry Jenkin, 14 March 2019. - Rob Mayes Collection

As someone somewhere probably once uttered “punk didn’t change anything”. Do you think the punk/post punk music revolution had any lasting effect? – Rob Mayes

“Punk didn’t change anything.” Well it was a hell of a ride at the time, but lasting.? Don’t really think so. It was so different here to the UK experience. There, there were Maggie’s “No Future” four million. The establishment was definitely worried about a proletarian revolution and there were so many visible punks in the Kings Road. Brixton riot etc. In New Zealand it was a bit more art school and a lot more fun. Mind you they were carrying Minto Bars in the Black Maria and the cops did crash a fair few gigs. Don’t you young ’uns be having fun now. You’ll get into trouble. This is New Zealand, for God’s sake.

Did I get any awards? Got one for a radio commercial ...

Andra [Barry’s daughter] revealed that you used to take her along to your All-Nighter shifts – was life a complex juggling act for Doctor Rock and how did you find the time to fit everything in. Or are you just naturally a skilled multi-tasker? – Rob Mayes

It was the 70s. We let kids climb trees and walk to school. If we needed to go anywhere, work, party, whatever when they were little we bunged ’em in a carry cot and took ’em with us. Happy as Larry in a studio. The odd squawk when the red light was on. Never mind.

Looking back from the present era of Creative NZ, NZ On Air, Ministry of Broadcasting, IMNZ etc, did you get assistance, support, or supportive feedback for providing an alternative outlet for local music and international alternative content from their labels, locally or overseas etc? – Rob Mayes

Short answer’s no to all the creative side of government or NGOs. [Long-standing NZ On Air music manager] Brendan Smyth’s a nice bloke and all but there’s a hell of a lot of pressure on him to be “balanced” when dishing out the dosh. I would like a little less “meat and three veg” and a little more edge. Neil Finn had a crack at getting a “youth network” happening but it was a fizzer. Don’t need segregation just management that’s young, vital and savvy. Don’t hold your breath. Did I get any awards? Got one for a radio commercial to hang on the wall, with someone else’s name Tippexed out and mine typed over. You don’t get awards for getting up people’s -----. I seem to have a talent for that.


Read more: Dr Rock at the Dawn of Punk (Rip It Up, September 1977)