Look who’s back: ‘Meeting of minds’ on the airwaves for Daniels and Barnett

Simon Barnett and James Daniels. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Simon Barnett and James Daniels. Photo: Geoff Sloan
Former Christchurch city councillor James Daniels waltzed into his new role at Newstalk ZB this week with no regrets.

The veteran broadcaster made his debut on Tuesday, co-hosting the afternoon show with Simon Barnett, after representing the Coastal Ward since 2019.

Following the job offer, Daniels announced his resignation in May, triggering a $65,000 by-election set for October to replace his spot in the Coastal-Burwood Community Board.

He said working with Barnett has been a meeting of minds.

“It’s been fantastic, I’ve really enjoyed it [so far]," Daniels said.

"I’ve known Si since he was young and we’ve always worked in the same city, but never together.

"My trade is talking and I’ve done it for 42 years, so when something like that comes along at my stage in life, you’ve got to take that opportunity.”

Daniels is no stranger to the mic – for the last four decades he has worked on and off in the industry, including for The Breeze from 2014 to 2018 with Hillary Muir.

"It’s a form of communication I enjoy,” he said.

James Daniels and Simon Barnett. Photo: Geoff Sloan
James Daniels and Simon Barnett. Photo: Geoff Sloan
He liked having “the power to make a positive difference.”

Many people grew up listening to Daniels on-air with fellow co-host Ken Ellis on 3ZM, now known as ZM, between 1984 and 1992, and More FM later on.

More recently, while juggling city council responsibilities, he joined the Coast FM team to host the Nine-to-Noon show after being offered a part-time role last year.

Daniels intends to carry on with the venture while he is at Newstalk ZB.

Being on Christchurch’s airwaves with Barnett presents an opportunity to achieve something fresh.

Said Daniels: “What we want to do is give people a platform to have a mature, adult conversation about something topical, something interesting – sometimes both.”

For someone who thrives in leadership roles, there was plenty to miss about working for the city council, especially representing the community he grew up in.

James Daniels with former 3ZM co-host Ken Ellis and the late Jim Anderton. Photo: Supplied
James Daniels with former 3ZM co-host Ken Ellis and the late Jim Anderton. Photo: Supplied
However, Daniels does not have future plans to return to local government.

"I think I’ll be too old.”

The experience was not what he expected - and “it’s not as bad as everyone paints it.”

"I didn’t want to step away from that at all, but I couldn’t combine both roles,” he said.

"I miss having that responsibility to the city and to the community, I revel in responsibility.”

What he learned as a councillor will also come in handy on-air, especially having been well-entrenched in community matters for the past two years.

But what he most definitely will not miss is the expectation of being available 24/7.

Daniels was looking forward to having a more structured work-life balance.

"When you’re a councillor, your work is your life.”


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