Murray Deaker: 'My passions are sport and people and it has
combined them. I have lived my dream.' Photo NZ Herald
Murray Deaker, an undisputed giant of New Zealand sports
broadcasting, has blown the final whistle on his career of more
than 20 years.
The 68-year-old Aucklander told viewers of last night's
Deaker on Sport show on Sky it was his last. He will host his
final Newstalk ZB/Radio Sport show on December 22, after a
break following hip-replacement surgery tomorrow.
Hours before the surprise announcement, Deaker told his TV
show sponsors at a gathering where he choked up when the
spotlight fell on his longtime producer Greg Billings.
Deaker told the Herald: "I wanted to go out on top of my game
... I was Sports Broadcaster of the Year last year and in the
final three this year, so I can say that.
"I've been ruthless on sports people who go on too long. I'll
miss it though - it has been all-consuming. My passions are
sport and people and it has combined them. I have lived my
The teacher and drug educator first hit radio as a part-timer
for Auckland breakfast host Merv Smith. Deaker's fulltime
career began in mid-1990 on ZB. He came to dominate the
ratings and sports media landscape with his presence, booming
voice, strong opinions and drive to deal with the big
subjects and interview leading players, all while retaining a
soft spot for smaller sports.
His career flourished out of a bygone era of media
personalities. Paul Holmes translated his radio success to
become a TV darling, but Deaker is arguably the dominant
radio figure in this country, especially for one subject
For 17 years he hosted a radio talk show four nights a week,
plus six-hour programmes on Saturday, Sunday and statutory
holidays, before easing back. He had quickly made the jump to
television, hosting 519 Deaker on Sport shows, all done live
to get the best out of his subjects "by preventing the
technical people taking over". He shunned the autocue after a
bad review referred to his cross-screen eye movement.
He made a further 311 Deaker Profiles for Sky, a testament to
unflagging energy and determination to be central to the
"I did 225 radio shows in a row, two years without a break,
so no one got their backsides in my chair," he told the
Herald, laughing, from his Takapuna home.
There was a price, with one emotional collapse, as well as
many controversies and arguments including with figures such
as Graham Henry. None left regret, although relationships
His broadcasting career over, Deaker plans much travel with
wife Sharon, who often accompanied him on assignments, "which
helped me keep a good perspective". He will pursue other
passions, including Russian and American history.
His one regret: never interviewing cricket legend Don
Bradman. Career highlight: witnessing Nelson Mandela walk out
before the 1995 Rugby World Cup final at Ellis Park,
"It was probably the biggest unification moment in South
Africa's history ... It transcended sport."
- Chris Rattue of the New Zealand Herald