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Jack Tame: ‘It’s time to take risks’

The intrepid reporter is ruling the airwaves as he relishes the job of a lifetime.
Jack Tame: 'It's time to take risks'

Jack Tame has always dreamed big. When he was 13, he wanted to be a rock star with his band, Beast Rubber Duck. At 14, despite his “chicken legs” and slight stature, he wanted to be an All Black. And at 16, he told his English teacher he wanted to be like the late Sir Paul Holmes.

“I’m an adrenaline junkie, and I love being outside my comfort zone, so I always need a new challenge,” the 25-year-old says from the black sand of Auckland’s Muriwai Beach, where he’s taking a quick breather before returning to his new home in New York.

While he couldn’t be prouder that he’s been given the role of hosting Newstalk ZB’s Saturday morning show at the station Paul worked at for more than 20 years, with the job comes the pressure of measuring up to New Zealand’s most celebrated broadcaster.

‘Down the line, I want to live in New Zealand’ says the talented broadcaster, pictured at Auckland’s Muriwai Beach.

“Paul started out on Newstalk two weeks after I was born. He was the best, all throughout my life he’s been New Zealand’s pre-eminent broadcaster,” says Jack.

Despite admitting he’s “terrified” following on from Paul, Jack – who’s currently single – is tackling the job with everything he’s got.

“I can be selfish. I don’t have a house, I don’t have kids, so I can afford to take some risks and do new things. I guess if you’re ever going to do it, now’s the time.”

Now juggling his radio show with his duties as TVNZ’s US correspondent and his weekly newspaper column in the Herald on Sunday, Jack knows doing all of them isn’t going to be an easy feat.

It’s a fast-paced and frantic existence, and although he’s loving his New York fairytale, his recent trip back to New Zealand has made him see there truly is no place like home.

“This is something I’ve missed,” he grins as he digs his toes into the sand. “I tried to go to the beach once in New York, at Coney Island, but it was ‘syringe in the sand’ territory. There was rubbish everywhere, and the water was stagnant. There aren’t many things you can’t do in New York, but that’s one of them!”

Jack says he’s ‘intoxicated’ by the Big Apple.

Although he insists he’s a regular guy – “I’m really not that interesting. I’m normal. A bit weedy, but apart from that, normal,” – Jack is not only humble, but witty and warm too.

His star has been on the rise ever since he started at TVNZ in 2006, and last year he became One News’ US correspondent after Tim Wilson stepped down.

Life in New York is different to his previous haunt of Auckland’s Grey Lynn, Auckland and while Jack’s still “intoxicated” with the Big Apple, his Spanish Harlem apartment is about as far removed from a cosy villa as you can get.

“It’s all very glam,” he jokes. “I’ll get up in my apartment with prison bars on the window, and if I’m lucky, the hot water will be working. For 15 days this winter, in –5°C weather, we’ve had none. ”

While Jack’s been in New York, he’s covered major events such as November’s presidential election and the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut a month later.

But while those stories tested both Jack’s reporting skills and his emotions, the hardest story he’s ever had to cover is the aftermath of the earthquake in his home town, Christchurch.

“Sandy Hook was surreal but Christchurch was raw,” he explains. “I’ve never experienced media coverage like I did in Connecticut. But the earthquake changed me more than anything else. It affected me more.”

“I don’t want to be world weary,” says Jack. “Of course I’m cynical, but after those big stories I’ll go for a run, or chat to someone.”

Although he’s seen a lot of tragedy in his short career, Jack says he tries to keep a healthy perspective. “When you’re working, you’re on adrenaline, it won’t be till later on until the gravity of it all will sink in.”

As he heads back to New York, Jack’s enjoying what time he has left in the city – he knows that sooner or later, the lure of living in New Zealand will prove to be too much.

“I don’t think I could live in New York forever, I don’t know if many people could. I’m still in the honeymoon period, and I’m still exploring. I don’t know how long I’ll be here, but down the line, I want to live in New Zealand.

“At the end of the day, home is where the heart is.”

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