New Zealand Woman’s Weekly
MO’ ON THE MOVE!
Mark Sainsbury’s secret love
The face behind New Zealand’s most famous moustache, Mark Sainsbury, is in automobile heaven. The Radiolive morning host has just spent three weeks cruising around the country in an iconic 1967 MGB Roadster, combining his work with his great love – classic cars.
He had to give the Roadster away to a listener at the end of his “Mo’ on the Road” promotion, but Mark’s own car is a 1963 Lincoln convertible, so he’s not too bereft. Plus, he’s delighted that competition winner Kerry Young will experience the joys of the car.
“The thing about MGs is that they’re timeless,” Mark explains. “You look at that shape and you say to someone, ‘When do you think that was made?’ People would have no idea. It’s a beautiful looking car. We wanted to give someone a car that would let them enjoy classic car motoring. It’s a great sort of car if you want to join clubs and stuff like that. It’s very social.”
Mark hopes he’ll see Kerry on the road. “I’m a great believer if you own a classic car, don’t have a trailer queen where you have it in a glass garage. They’re built to be used. The more you use them, the more reliable they are.”
The broadcaster drives his Lincoln to work whenever he’s in Wellington, where he lives with his wife, lawyer Ramona Rasch, and twins Hunter and Arabella (29), who have returned home after stints overseas. The beloved vehicle gets a break when he spends about half the week in Auckland for work.
He describes his car as a dream come true. “There were six boys in our family and we had this book, The 1963 Observer Book of Cars. We all had a favourite in it. Ever since I was a nipper that was the car I always wanted. I’d look at it in this book and you’d never see one in New Zealand, and just before I took over doing Close Up, I found one in the States.
“I went and saw the bank manager, bought it and had it sent over. I’d been thinking about it for so long and wanting it for so long, I was really worried that it was going to be a disappointment. Then it arrived and it wasn’t. I love it.”
Mark (61) also has an old Aston Martin and has owned Jaguars, Rovers and a Bentley Corniche – “That was a very rare car – they probably only made 66 of them ever, but I just loved it. It was just so beautiful and outrageous. I did a few rallies and things like that. Clubs are good to belong to because they get great deals on parts and the knowledge as well. I love the clubs, but I just need to be in one place long enough to join one.”
Aside from getting to do a road trip in one of his favourite cars, Mark enjoyed getting to meet some of his listeners over the three-week competition.
“The people who ring in are just a tiny percentage of the people listening,” he says. “It’s good to talk to people out in the field just to get an idea of what people are thinking and where things are at.”
He loved doing the show from his hometown and enjoyed Dunedin because everyone in every car that went by tooted and waved. He had a ball at the Wanaka A&P show, where he judged a Jack Russell race and met loads of listeners in Christchurch.
He was treated to a number of local delicacies as well. “There was a guy in Invercargill, turned up there yesterday, and he said, ‘I’ve a got a shearwater there for you.’ I said, ‘You’re talking about muttonbirds aren’t you?’ He said, ‘That’s right, the oyster boats haven’t been out so I brought that down for you.’ People are so kind.”
Mark has settled in to radio after a 30-year career at TVNZ. “The funny thing is, when you’re in television, we used to look down at radio. TV was the big glamour event. Everyone wanted to get into TV – and having had the privilege to work in both – and I love TV as a medium, but radio is so much more intimate and immediate. You don’t need a cast of thousands. I had two people with me, sometimes one and we’d make it work.”
His show has evolved since he took over from his friend Sean Plunket in 2016. “I’ve learned that the things people want to talk about are not necessarily the things that are the biggest news items of the day. You can have an item that’s big news but no-one wants to discuss it. Today we talked a lot about Jonathan Coleman resigning and whether it’s going to cost a million dollars, and whether MPs who stood in an electorate should quit before the end of their term.
“Talkback is about sharing opinions and hearing different views on things. It’s not, ‘I’m going to say this and everyone has to agree with me.’ You’ve got to make it interesting, you have got to make something you’d want to listen to yourself and that’s the challenge. You have to ask, ‘Would I be interested if I was listening to this show?’ And you hope the answer is yes.”