Radio New Zealand has announced the appointment of a replacement on Morning Report for Sean Plunket.
Michael Laws was announced as the new co-presenter of the show, effective from early January.
Mr Laws will be based in Radio New Zealand’s Whanganui studio.
The move is being regarded as a change in direction for the public broadcasting organisation. Mr Laws has been widely criticised by many people for expressing outrageous opinions on his current Radio Live show, and in his weekly newspaper column.
Radio New Zealand CEO Peter Cavanagh said that Laws would bring a new perspective to the show.
“We felt that after a number of years of doing the same thing it was time to introduce a bit of edginess,” said Mr Cavanagh.
“If there’s one thing Michael Laws brings it’s edginess. We’re hoping he will help to engage our listeners a bit more. By that I mean infuriate and outrage. People love a bit of controversy over their breakfast cereal.”
Mr Cavanagh refused to confirm widespread speculation that Paul Henry had been offered the job before Mr Laws.
Laws is no stranger to radio. He has a weekday talkshow with Radio Live that has several dozen regular listeners.
Laws said he was excited by the change.
“It’s about time someone stepped in and smacked a few heads together,” said Mr Laws. “What a sad tired institution Radio NZ is. A more pompous and irrelevant collection of tiresome liberals and onanists I’ve never met.
“And that sad sack Geoff Robinson’s been there for a million years. For God’s sake, man, are you even still alive?”
Radio New Zealand CEO Peter Cavanagh said some other changes would be introduced to the show from the start of next year.
“We want to engage more with our listeners, and we believe that turning Morning Report into an interactive talkback show will allow us to do that.“
Current host Geoff Robinson is said to be unhappy with the appointment, and furious that he was not consulted. But insiders have said the move to introduce Laws is a deliberate attempt by Radio New Zealand management to get rid of Robinson.
Insiders say that Robinson is considered a liability by Radio New Zealand management. He has had a long and fractious relationship with the show’s producers, and his on-air temper tantrums have become more and more bizarre and frequent.
Last week Robinson interrupted an interview with the CTU’s Helen Kelly to launch a scathing verbal assault on the entire union movement. In an expletive-laden speech Robinson urged listeners to “round up your local unionist and bludgeon him to death. Kill him! Smash him until his brains drip slowly from his ears and eyes!”
In 2009 the Broadcasting Standards Authority found that Robinson breached broadcasting standards when he told listeners that Prime Minister John Key was “a walking talking demon who must be exorcised from the body politic by any means necessary, including by violent bloody revolution.”
If Robinson is forced out, Newstalk ZB’s Leighton Smith is tipped to take over as co-presenter.
Media commentator, internet entrepreneur and convicted murderer Bertrand Sackey said that a Laws-Smith Morning Report would be a “dream ticket.”
“It’s just the combination of controversy and unimaginative conservatism the airwaves are crying out for,” said Mr Sackey.
“People have had enough of analysis and debate. Nuance is for effete liberals who don’t like to get their hands dirty. Laws and Smith would really shake things up.”