Coun­try di­ary: Wendyl Nis­sen’s new role

This is Wendyl Nis­sen, broad­cast­ing live from… An un­ex­pected phone call sees our Hokianga coun­try girl head back to the city streets, but does it mean the end of her ru­ral life­style?

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

The words “com­fort” and “zone” have paired up and be­come very pop­u­lar in re­cent years. On the one hand it’s great to find your com­fort zone, but, on the other hand, if you leave that com­fort zone, great things can hap­pen to you… ap­par­ently.

I’ve spent years search­ing for my com­fort zone – a place where I can re­lax, schlepp around in noth­ing but leg­gings and a T-shirt and not wake up to a To Do list as long as my arm ev­ery morn­ing. A place where noth­ing gets too hec­tic, anx­i­ety is just some­thing I used to have a fraught re­la­tion­ship with, and spend­ing an hour sit­ting with my chick­ens is to­tally nor­mal be­hav­iour, not slack­ing off. For the past six months I’ve re­ally been liv­ing it.

Paul and I were lucky enough to live full time up north over the sum­mer with just a few vis­its back to town for work. And, yes, we did say with mo­not­o­nous reg­u­lar­ity, “This is the life!” and, “Just an­other day in par­adise!”

It felt good. So, so, so good. We lived off the land, eat­ing eggs our chick­ens laid, fish I caught most days (once a 3.5kg snap­per!), or­ganic ve­g­ies from the gar­den and bread I baked daily. The sun shone, the dogs thrived with their beach walks and we both felt very blessed.

Then I got a call. I was driv­ing on a dirt road at the time, with poor re­cep­tion, but I re­ally wanted to talk to the woman on the other end so I pulled over and called her back. Her name is Wendy Palmer and she ran the broad­cast­ing sta­tion Ra­dioLIVE. She was ex­cited and needed to talk to me about a job.

I didn’t re­ally want a job. In my com­fort zone I was do­ing some writ­ing, which peo­ple were happy to pay me for, and with Paul’s in­come we were able to pay our bills and live qui­etly. To a large ex­tent I had dropped out of my old life, clos­ing all my so­cial me­dia ac­counts, only an­swer­ing the phone if I knew who the caller was and keep­ing a close cir­cle around me of fam­ily and a few very dear friends. It was a life I trea­sured.

But Wendy was of­fer­ing me a job on the ra­dio, and I love work­ing on the ra­dio. I had done quite a bit of ra­dio at New­stalkZB years ago, fill­ing in for my good friends, the dearly de­parted Paul Holmes and the very much still here Kerre McIvor, on their week­end life­style shows. I had been poked, prod­ded and whipped into shape by Bill Fran­cis,

who ran New­stalkZB back then, and two lovely pro­duc­ers who taught me not to say, “Wel­come back,” to my lis­ten­ers af­ter a com­mer­cial break. “They haven’t been any­where, Wendyl!”

I hoped that one day, maybe I’d get my own show. But that never hap­pened. Un­til now, thanks to the lovely Wendy, who, when we met up in town, talked en­thu­si­as­ti­cally of es­tab­lish­ing a life­style show on her net­work.

“Ev­ery­thing you stand for,” she said. “Healthy liv­ing, good reads, in-depth in­ter­views, just you and a lot of fun re­ally,” she said, or­der­ing me an­other mar­tini.

I said I’d think about it. And I did as I stared at the Hokianga Har­bour. Then I told my fam­ily and they were all de­lighted at the prospect.

“Re­ally? But I’m so happy as I am,” I said to them all at fam­ily din­ner.

“Do it be­fore you start get­ting bored and make a nui­sance of your­self,” they said in uni­son.

So I rang Wendy back and told her I would love to, but there was one thing I needed and that was the Hokianga.

“Can I broad­cast from up north? I’ve got the per­fect of­fice, which could make a great stu­dio, I’ll make sure the dogs don’t bark and I have the in­ter­net.”

“Of course,” said Wendy be­fore paus­ing. “Let me check with the tech guys and get back to you.”

The deal was done and I now have a very work­able stu­dio in my lit­tle of­fice, with one of the best views in the world. My in­ten­tion is to work from there most of the time once I’ve got the show up and run­ning. There will even be cam­eras, which means my lit­tle of­fice-cum­stu­dio is now get­ting nice new book­shelves to re­place the rather dreary ones I bought from the op shop, much to Paul’s de­light.

My kids tell me that my voice changes when I’m up north. They call and get a dif­fer­ent sound­ing mother be­cause I’m so re­laxed. I’m look­ing for­ward to shar­ing some of that sound with my lis­ten­ers – prob­a­bly while hav­ing to chase a chicken out of the stu­dio or maybe livestream­ing one of my fish­ing ex­pe­di­tions or a visit to the gar­den. But, most im­por­tantly, it will be a show I would have liked as a sound­track to my af­ter­noons dur­ing the sum­mer.

The hard­est part was telling my friend and fel­low part-time Hokianga res­i­dent Kerre McIvor, who is a tal­ented, sea­soned broad­caster on New­stalkZB, as we will both be on air at the same time.

How an­noyed she must feel to have her friend en­croach­ing on her ter­ri­tory, where she is the undis­puted Queen of Ra­dio. But the Queen was very cool.

“You are ter­rific on ra­dio, you’ll be just won­der­ful and the best thing is that there’s an­other woman on the air. I’m so proud of you,” she said with­out a hint of ag­gra­va­tion or the sound of her teeth grind­ing.

It just means that when we chat now there has to be an aware­ness of our com­pet­ing me­dia em­ploy­ers and the oc­ca­sional in­tro­duc­tion of a cone of si­lence, which doesn’t bother us at all, and I re­main very grate­ful for our friend­ship.

Mean­while, I’m back in Auck­land for a cou­ple of months to bed the show in, get to know the won­der­ful team at Ra­dioLIVE who will be sup­port­ing me and cre­ate a show I hope will at­tract lis­ten­ers. My par­ents will mind the house up north in prepa­ra­tion for their big move there to live. I miss my com­fort zone like crazy but

I’ve parked it in a box marked “Back Soon” with all the other imag­i­nary boxes that live un­der my bed marked “To Be Thought About At An­other Time” and I’m throw­ing my­self into this won­der­ful new ca­reer.

My show broad­casts on Ra­dioLIVE 100.6 FM ev­ery day from mid­day through to 3pm and it’s a very busy of­fer­ing of fab­u­lous cooks, such as The Aus­tralian Women’s Weekly’s Jo Sea­gar, in­spir­ing au­thors, lots of green-liv­ing in­ter­views and a fun seg­ment fea­tur­ing baby boomers hav­ing a “moan” about things that an­noy them. I’ve called my show The Long Lunch be­cause peo­ple will be sit­ting down to their lunch when I be­gin and hope­fully will con­tinue to be en­ter­tained through the af­ter­noon, whether they are par­ents at home with kids, peo­ple work­ing from home, re­tirees or busy peo­ple nav­i­gat­ing traf­fic.

I’m so grate­ful to Wendy, who re­gret­tably has now left Ra­dioLIVE, for be­liev­ing in me and giv­ing me the chance to ful­fil a life­time dream of ra­dio broad­cast­ing.

And if I’m hon­est, I’m lov­ing get­ting the old brain out and ex­er­cis­ing it again. Ev­ery­one says I’m much fun­nier when I’m work­ing hard and I know hard work suits me. Which just goes to show that great things do hap­pen out­side your com­fort zone. AWW

In ad­di­tion to her new role, Wendyl will con­tinue writ­ing her Coun­try Di­ary col­umn from her home in the Hokianga.

Do it be­fore you start get­ting bored and make a nui­sance of your­self.

ABOVE: Wendyl is thrilled about her new ca­reer op­por­tu­nity, but her heart re­mains in the Hokianga.

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