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Melissa Chan-Green and Ryan Bridge's friendship

The AM co-hosts share a friendship – and a sweet tooth! - but sometimes the tears flow

By Fleur Guthrie
It's been a year of big changes for Ryan Bridge and Melissa Chan-Green, who stepped aside from other media roles to take on the high-pressure job of hosting the new-look AM – putting their opinions and own personalities firmly in the spotlight.
But they'll let you in on a little secret. While for the most part they try to be total professionals, come Friday after 8.30am, it's when their "wheels start to fall off" and viewers are likely to see them in uncontrollable giggles after a Freudian slip or misspoken word.
"Sometimes Mum will text me while I'm on-air with, 'Oh, Ryan, what have you said now?'" he laughs. "But I remind her it's 15 hours a week of live, unscripted telly. Think of all the nonsense you would speak over that time.
"So by the end of the week – after you've been up at 2.30am every morning – you're feeling a bit delirious and you can't control what gets said."
Mel offers a case in point. "While we were interviewing the CEO of Costco recently, I meant to say 'discounts', but unfortunately said 'they offer great dick counts'! The CEO replied, 'We offer a lot of things, but not those!'
"Total embarrassment! However, I would like to think people know that we do the serious stuff but we don't take ourselves too seriously."
'Who knows, one day we'll have a massive dust-up on air. Stay tuned!'
It's often customary for TV personalities to tout the joys of working together, when viewers can pick up on a lack of on-screen chemistry between the hosts. Yet for Ryan and Mel, their close friendship began long before they were paired together.
When the Weekly meets them at a local café after filming has wrapped for the morning, Ryan, 34, digs into a cream doughnut and Mel, 39, chooses a custard slice, as they reflect on the last six months of relaunching the popular morning show, alongside news and sports presenter Bernadine Oliver-Kerby and roving presenter William Waiirua.
As the show's regular fill-in host in recent years, Ryan's advice for former Newshub presenter Mel was just to be herself.
"I knew that once people got to know her, they'd love her," he enthuses. "How could you not? She's funny and smart. You can lean on her desk and say something naughty-slash-inappropriate and know it's going to find a home. Usually everyone always goes on about her kind and caring side, and I'm like, 'Yeah, okay, okay,'" says Ryan, feigning a mock eye roll.
With AM co-presenters Bernadine and William
"At first, it's harder than you think to be yourself," admits Mel. "Yet I'm feeling more and more comfortable. Putting together a new show is quite a challenge, but we've had each other's backs.
"With age, I've also let go of caring what people think about me so much," she adds. Her two-and-half-year-old son Busby with husband Caspar, 41, helped changed that. "With kids, it puts a new perspective on what's important and where my energy should go.
"I won't read comments sections because they do affect me, I have to say. It's best when I'm outside of work to be free to focus on my son."
She isn't, however, afraid to stand up for her opinions if need be. The week before we chat, Mel felt the need to post on Facebook, clarifying where she stood regarding actress Louise Wallace's remarks about "fat women" in fashion advertising, during AM's panel discussion.
"During the show, I thought I'd made it pretty clear I strongly disagreed with what Louise had said," explains Mel. "I was shocked when a couple of days later there were a handful of social media posts suggesting I may have condoned the comments.
"So I posted something to make sure it was super-clear how I felt. Never assume someone's relationship with body image from what they look like," adds Mel, who also checked in with Louise to see how she was after the furore because "her being bullied is not okay either".
Ryan loves hanging out with Mel and beagle Fanny
Although they've both carved out careers in the media, Ryan and Mel have both taken very different paths. He joined Parliament's Press Gallery at age 22 – a dream come true for the youngest reporter there at the time – before going into news radio presenting, while Mel enjoyed a five-year stint as Newshub's Europe correspondent, covering everything from riots to royals.
The pair met in the then-TV3 newsroom when Ryan had moved up to Auckland from Wellington in 2016 and Melissa had just returned from London.
"I was doing a story on apartment-living and asked Mel if we could film at her apartment, as long as we were careful about not identifying exactly where she lived," recalls Ryan. "But we mucked it up and filmed the whole outside of the apartment block and put it on the TV.
"Afterwards, she was like, 'Ryan, there was just a little issue I had with it – you showed where I live!' I thought, 'Oh, no, now I've put her in jeopardy of peeping Toms!'
The affable pair discovered they had lots of mutual friends, shared the same "naughty" sense of humour and started hanging out socially.
Mum Mary let's her son know when he's messed up!
"I remember the first time I was able to introduce my baby to him," says the proud mum. "It was after lockdown in 2020 and Busby was six months old. Ryan had not long moved into his first home [which he shares with his partner of three years] and we sat on the floor because he hardly owned any furniture.
"Which was perfect for a crawling baby – there was nothing for him to ruin!"
The conversation often circles back to speaking of their closeness to family and friends. They list loyalty and looking after each other as their number-one shared value.
This was evident when Mel paid an emotional tribute on-air to her late grandmother Dorothy Vlaanderen, who passed away in April, aged 88. Viewers saw Ryan pat her leg and give her a hug after she wiped away tears.
"Her grandma had passed away on the Sunday and Melissa was in at work at 2.30am the next morning, preparing and interviewing the Prime Minister on some pretty hefty topics," tells Ryan. "I was blown away when she did that.
"Thinking back, I thought I was all good to come to work," reflects Mel, "but I realised by Friday how much her death had really affected me that week.
Mel paid an emotional TV tribute to her grandma Dorothy. "I was so thankful Ryan suggested it."
"Ryan had asked me early on if I wanted to say something about it and I told him, 'No, I don't think I can…' Then on the Friday, before the last ad break, he gently said, 'Hey, if you still want to say something about your grandma, feel free, okay.'
"Yeah, I kind of felt like she would regret it if she didn't," explains Ryan.
"And I would definitely have," she agrees, with emotion wavering in her voice. "I was so thankful that he suggested it, and gave me the time to think about it and that it happened when it felt right for me to do it.
"Grandma didn't want a funeral. So it was the only chance I got to give her a tribute outside of my family. It really meant a lot to me, actually.
"I also wanted to acknowledge my mum and give a shout-out to people who look after loved ones.
"In Grandma's final months, she preferred to be at home with family rather than hospice, so Mum had time off from her job [as a nurse for the elderly] to take care of Grandma herself."
Melissa describes Dorothy as a "global adventurer, teller of naughty jokes and battler to the end".
"She especially loved Ryan and told me she only watched the show for him!" laughs Mel. "Grandma was always full of stories. But sadly never got to experience her own fairy tale after her first love was killed in an accident on the way to getting her engagement ring resized.
So, go get him Grandma!"
Co-hosts often label the other as their "work wife" or "work husband", but with Mel and Ryan, it appears more like a sibling relationship.
When Mel, who has three sisters, is asked if Ryan is like the little brother she never had, she nods emphatically, saying, "Yeah, actually! I'd definitely go to Ryan for brotherly advice."
Ryan, who has two brothers, agrees the duo can bicker like siblings too. "We disagree a lot. It's important that Mel gives her point of view and then it's important that I shut it down," he says wryly.
"And then it's important that I make it clear that we all don't agree with him!" she retorts.
"The thing about me," shares Ryan, "the thing I love more than anything, is a good debate. So I like to prod an issue until I see where people stand on things.
"When Mel and I have a feisty debate on air, afterwards we'll walk off set and go, 'Oh, that was interesting', or I'll say, 'That was a good one, Mel!' And we never carry it on."
"Who knows, one day we'll have a massive dust-up on air," she jokes. "It'll probably be on a Friday after 8.30am. Stay tuned!"
The pair keep the fun going – even after an on-air debate!
Tell us something the general public wouldn't know about you.
Ryan: I don't clean and I'm pretty messy. My desk at work is disgusting. I'm surprised no one has said anything.
Mel: I like to tidy up in the studio before we go. It's kind of like at home, where I can't go to sleep without putting the toys away first.
Biggest career highlight?
Ryan: Last year's 36-hour on-air talkathon because it was such a personal challenge and we raised so much money for the Child Cancer Foundation. I definitely want to do something similar soon and obviously will rope Mel in.
And worst?
Mel: Reporting on the Christchurch mosque shootings. I remember standing there reporting for the 6pm bulletin and during the ad break, members of the public would be crying, and coming over to hug us and say "thank you". It was such a heavy time.
  • undefined: Fleur Guthrie

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