Jono and Ben on Making Radio Waves

It's strange to be interviewing Jono Pryor and Ben Boyce.

Several times Pryor turns it around so he's interviewing me. "Do you guys always meet people here for pizza? What are you guys doing after this? Is Stuff going behind a paywall?"

Pryor peppers us with questions as he chauffeurs us up the mount in his legendary black 1970s Holden Kingswood. It's back to black, having recently been painted a vibrant pink in a Boyce-ordered prank.

The presenters of late-night current affairs spoof Jono and Ben at Ten are facing the challenge of capturing two types of audience. They are branching out their TV show to include the hardcore fans of drivetime rock radio.

Tall, thin, buzz-cut and jeans-clad, the comic presenters take the piss as they pose for photos.

"Is it too late to pull out?" Boyce asks. "They caught me at a low point."

The move to replace Pryor's deep-voiced, decade-long co-host Robert Taylor with Boyce has attracted a legion of feedback from the staunchest of fans.

Of what can be printed, there was "now we have to listen to two highballs".

It can be hard leaving a long-standing co-host behind, even though it was Taylor's decision to chase other broadcasting opportunities.

Boyce was also parted from his former Pulp Sport co-host Jamie "Bill" Linehan in recent years. The two were close. "We still keep in touch," Boyce says.

But Boyce is the only one who can handle Pryor on a daily basis, Pryor chimes in. "What if we have a shitty day, up until now we've been able to leave this behind at one o'clock but we're going to get stuck with each other till seven," he says.

Boyce agrees, "we're going to end up like a bitter old married couple. We already are."

Midway through our interview, Boyce slaps Pryor in the face. "You had a bug on your lip," he explains. A swarm of sandflies have gathered around Pryor and he's trying desperately to remain composed. He's forgiving of Boyce's sudden move.

Pryor acknowledges he and Boyce will have to step up their act for radio, having become accustomed to entertaining largely "pre-pubescent boys" on TV. The Rock audience is far more mature, in terms of age anyway.

"Hopefully what we do on TV will translate into radio," Pryor says.

Each had their own "shit" TV show before the Mediaworks network suggested they join forces for "one big shit show". Before that Boyce had Wanna-Ben and Pryor had Jono's New Show and The Jono Project.

At the moment Pryor's up at 4am, preparing for two hours of radio, planning for TV and heading into The Rock studio until 7pm. Whereas Boyce co-produces The Jono and Ben Show so he's up at the other end of the day, with the occasional midnight knock-off.

The Rock pairing is a ploy to entice a broader audience in the highly saturated Auckland market, easily the largest in the country.

"We hope to capture the fringe listeners who tune radio stations between Magnus Benroe commercials and Advanced Hair Institute commercials," Pryor says, going off on a tangent.

"I like how Radio Live have disguised Wet and Forget commercials with a caller phoning up - ‘oh gidday it's Rod here, just been using my Wet and Forget, yeah it gets rid of all my moss and mould'."

In the latest round of radio wars, popular jockies Fletch and Vaughan who have just jumped ship from the drive show of mainstream youth station The Edge, owned by Mediaworks, to replace The Radio Network's (TRN) long-standing ZM breakfast power couple Polly and Grant. After more than 20 years, Polly Gillespie and Grant Kereama will leave the station to launch the breakfast show on Classic Hits' replacement, TRN-owned The Hits. TRN's Radio Hauraki also recently employed Matt Heath, Jeremy Wells and Laura McGoldrick for its breakfast show and the station's appearing to play a wider range of music.

So it seems everybody has the same idea.

For their part, Pryor and Boyce have a few tricks up their sleeve.

"We thought we might bring back Battle of the Sexes," Pryor jokes.

"Jay-Jay Feeney's Scandal," Boyce adds, referencing The Edge's breakfast host. "Or Polly and Grant's Season of the Stars," Pryor jokes.

For his part, Pryor is half of the brains behind The Rock's infamous and wildly popular Wind up Your Wife segment. The phone prank has been blamed for at least one divorce while another gag was banned from air altogether after Pryor told a new mother she had taken home the wrong baby.

Another segment comes courtesy of The Rock's drive show producers stumbling across a Radio Live contact book on a shared computer drive.

"It's like 52 pages of well-known people's numbers," Pryor says. "Ben had the great idea of doing Guess Who where one of us dials the number and the other doesn't know who it is.

"When they answer the phone, you have to go ‘oh it's Bill here from the courier company - just wanted to know who to drop the package to'." The other guy basically has 30 seconds to guess who they have just called.

It's hard to say how much trouble Pryor and Boyce will get in for this. But like all other gags, they are willing to take the risk.

- Sunday News


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