New Morning Report host Susie Ferguson: A time for change

Before her appointment, UK-born Ms Ferguson had hosted Summer Report and filled in on Morning Report.

New Morning Report host Susie Ferguson’s accession to New Zealand’s top radio hosting job has been four years in the making.

The former BBC and ITV broadcaster started at the state broadcaster four years ago as a casual.

On April 2 the 36-year-old will take over as co-host of Morning Report with Guyon Espiner, replacing the retiring Geoff Robinson and transferring Simon Mercep.

Before her appointment, UK-born Ms Ferguson had hosted Summer Report and filled in on Morning Report.

She describes her new job as being both a huge challenge and an opportunity, given Mr Robinson’s legacy.

“When I first moved into the Wellington studio and was sitting next to Geoff, he said to me, 'you are the 36th person presenting with me for a week or longer.' ”

During 30 years at the state broadcaster Mr Robinson had presented alongside Lindsay Perigo, Peter Sledmere, Neil Billington, Sharon Crosbie, Mike Hosking, Maggie Barry, Kim Hill, Sean Plunket and Simon Mercep.

He has become an icon of the industry and his voice is synonymous with Morning Report.

Now Ms Ferguson says the opportunity for her and new co-host Guyon Espiner is to look at change.

“[New CEO] Paul Thompson is very keen to taking it into the future and we will look at new, evolving avenues to see where Radio NZ could end up."

She says the show will be more inquiring than it had been in the past and she will not shy away from hard questions.

“You should be not be afraid to ask because it's a privilege to host the Morning Report – it's your duty to ask.”

Ms Ferguson wouldn't elaborate on other changes; saying the station is in early planning changes. However, Mr Thompson is known to have a digital focus.

Mr Thompson, a former newspaperman for Fairfax, has already made sweeping changes in host appointments since he started late last year. Along with replacing the two hosts of the flagship show, he has made a host of changes to most of Radio NZ’s leading shows.

Another push more evident in recent months has been Radio NZ’s Twitter push, as it has resurrected old accounts and started new ones so it now has 14 in total.

Ms Ferguson says she is one of 30 Radio NZ hosts on Twitter but, unlike incoming hosts Wallace Chapman and Mr Espiner, rarely uses the social media service.

“I find Twitter slightly difficult. I am on it and I am more of an observer as such.

“I use it for news and finding things out but I personally find it slightly awkward."

Just weeks from taking over the role, Ms Ferguson says she will be looking to Mr Robinson – whom she has not seen for some time but who sent her “a very nice email” on her appointment, for tips before moving into her new role.

While changes are coming thick and fast at the station, she plans to continue the tough interviewing style that got her the job.

“I just ask the questions I want the answers to,” she says.