The man be­hind the wink

Joseph Ro­manos talks to Whitby res­i­dent, and former ra­dio and TV per­son­al­ity, Roger Gas­coigne about liv­ing in Perth, work­ing at Te Papa and Paul Holmes.

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS -

So you were a Blen­heim boy.

Yes, class of 1948. I went to Marl­bor­ough High School. Af­ter one year they split the school into Marl­bor­ough Boys and Marl­bor­ough Girls. Not that it meant much to me then. I was too naive and shy.

And then on to Waitaki Boys. That must have been a shock.

It was. I went there in the fifth form, as a boarder. I was treated as if I was a third former, be­cause I was new. I was lippy and stroppy and be­came quite lit­er­ally the whip­ping boy. I made some good friends there, but I re­flect grimly on my three years at Waitaki.

Your fa­ther was a lawyer. Was that where you were headed?

Ini­tially. My older brother had tried and failed, so I had a go. I stud­ied law at Can­ter­bury Univer­sity for a year, but I didn’t like univer­sity life. I was used to liv­ing my life ac­cord­ing to bells and rules.

That was the 1960s. What mu­sic did you like?

It was the year of Sgt Pep­per’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. I loved the Bea­tles, of course, but it was prob­a­bly The Beach Boys who did the most for me. That won­der­ful, wist­fully horny Wouldn’t It Be Nice. I had a hol­i­day job prun­ing and re­mem­ber a group of us driv­ing through the night to the next job singing Good Vi­bra­tions at the top of our voices. Did ra­dio beckon? It did, es­pe­cially once I moved to West­ern Aus­tralia. I went to broad­cast­ing school in Perth, then got a ra­dio job in a coun­try town, Al­bany. It was quite an ap­pren­tice­ship. Then I worked for the ABC in Perth, a three-hour show en­com­pass­ing the wool report, the whal­ing report, mu­sic . . . Did you do some TV over there, too? Yes, I worked for TVW. I was do­ing TV and ra­dio. How long were you away? Five years. It was good, hot, but good. It was the time of the iron ore boom. Guys in the news­room were share mil­lion­aires one day, broke the next. A crazy time.

When you came back, you worked for Ra­dio Windy.

Yes, I was in right at the start. I did about 18 months, the af­ter­noon show. Then it was on to TV. Do­ing what? Ev­ery­thing, really. Voiceovers, ad­ver­tise- ments, telethons, Olympics . . .

And you devel­oped that fa­mous wink.

I copied it from a woman in Perth, Trina. I saw how when she winked it linked her with her view­ers. The wink be­came a trade­mark. I’d close the chan­nel each evening and wink as I said good­night.

I imag­ine you were a ma­jor celebrity back then.

There was no es­cap­ing us on TV. We didn’t have 99 chan­nels back then. We be­came ex­tremely well known. It be­came dif­fi­cult to go out for a meal.

Con­stant in­ter­rup­tions. And be­cause peo­ple had seen me on TV so much, they were very fa­mil­iar with me and felt they knew me. Are you still recog­nised? I’m sort of stuck with it. It’s really lovely

Ready to Roll, fronted an to be part of New Zealand’s nos­tal­gia. As John Clark said, you are a trig­ger to a fond place. It’s man­age­able th­ese days.

In the 1980s, weren’t you a sort of pre­cur­sor to Paul Holmes, do­ing TV and ra­dio?

I was back on Ra­dio Windy and was also fronting To­day and Tonight af­ter the TV net­work news. What did you en­joy more? My nat­u­ral home is ra­dio. Speak­ing of Holmes, did you know him?

Yes, quite well. In my Ra­dio Windy days he was on ZB. We’d phone each other and put each other on air. He was al­ways look­ing to do some­thing edgy. I liked Paul. He was the light and shade in all of us.

In the 1990s you got into mar­ket­ing and pub­lic re­la­tions. Was that te­dious?

Not at all. I was work­ing for Tel­stra Clear, try­ing to ex­plain the won­der­ful things that were about to hap­pen – ca­ble TV, mo­bile phones, the in­ter­net . . . It was a hard sell, though.

You’d front up to a room full of Khan­dal­lah res­i­dents, an­gry be­cause our com­pany was ru­in­ing their views with ugly wires.

I might have man­aged to mol­lify their rage slightly.

Now you’re a tour guide at Te Papa. That’s quite a leap.

Well, I got a good pay­out when I left Tel­stra Clear, and in 2005 I wanted to do some­thing I en­joyed, but not too stress­ful. I love be­ing a host at Te Papa. It’s a bit like putting on a show.

You get a tour group in and want them to en­joy their time at Te Papa. You set out to in­form and en­ter­tain them. So it’s fun. You can­not have more fun than with a busload of Aussies.

You keep learn­ing, about ev­ery­thing from Andy Warhol, to South Amer­i­can cour­te­sans to Pa­cific mi­gra­tion. I love that stuff.


Roger Gas­coigne: ‘‘You can­not have more fun than with a busload of Aussies.’’

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