Jason Tikao, more commonly known amongst friends an on the airwaves as JT, is one half of the Coast Drive show every weekday afternoon. He’s interviewed music legends from Sir Bob Geldof to international celebrities such as Eddie Izzard, so knows how to keep his cool in all manner of situations.
A familiar voice, JT has been involved in the radio industry, either on or behind the microphone, when he got his start as the Mid-dawn announcer on Star FM in Whanganui in 1996. He’s hosted almost every day part you can think of since then, as well as working behind the scenes as a content producer, creative director, executive producer and in promotions.
JT grew up in Whanganui, and though he now lives in Auckland with his wife, he’ll always have a soft spot for small-town New Zealand.
When he’s not in studio or emceeing events, you’ll find JT cleaning up at a pub quiz.
- Master of Ceremonies (MC)
- Voice overs
- Guest speaker
- Quiz master
- Public debate facilitator
- Endorsements where appropriate
Here’s your chance to learn more about one of New Zealand’s popular broadcasters:
You’re a much-loved chatterbox broadcasting into people’s cars and homes each afternoon, what do you love the most about being on the radio?
My absolute favourite thing is saying something funny on the radio and making someone – who might have been having a bad day – laugh. I love connecting with people, hearing from every day New Zealanders and having banter with my co-host Mel Homer. Making people laugh and brightening someone’s day? That is why I do what I do.
You’ve also worked behind the scenes as a producer; what’s your preference between hosting and producing?
I love them both. Prepping a four hour show every day takes a lot of work, but the payoff to that hard work is executing a show that sounds like it’s just a lot of fun and not hard work at all! The difference between producing and hosting is when you produce, you put in that work and then hope the hosts deliver it how you pictured they would. Hosting means I get to make sure it does. There’s more pressure in hosting, but I love it.
What has been the highlight of your fun-filled career so far and why?
Winning a New Zealand Radio Award in 2005 will always be special. But the highlight for me, was when I was restructured out of a job and then was employed by the competitor. Within a year I was hosting a nationwide drive show, and it went to number one in Auckland and a few other markets. That was one of the most satisfying days in my career – getting to prove what I could bring to the table.
Describe the biggest on-air blunder you’ve made and how you saved yourself?
Live radio is exciting because there is no safety net. Whatever you say goes out to people’s speakers and they hear it straight away. The downside of live radio…there is no safety net! One time super early in my career, I was playing a song and thought the microphone was off. It wasn’t. Let’s just say I was VERY complimentary about the song we were playing. Amazingly we got no complaints, they must’ve agreed with me. To this day it is the ONLY time I have ever dropped an F-bomb on live radio.
Who has had the greatest influence on your career (or life) and why?
I know it’s cliché to say, but my parents. They taught me to have a good work ethic, to treat people well, and be respectful. I have worked in radio stations from Whangarei to Dunedin and many in between and they would all speak highly of me. That’s because I consistently work hard and I’m a team player; Lessons I learnt from my parents.
In my career, a man named Mike West was a huge influence on me. I had listened to him on 2XS FM growing up as a kid in Feilding and Whanganui, so years later getting to work with him was awesome. To see a guy who had been doing breakfast radio for over 20 years at that point, still get so excited because he knew he had a great voice-break coming up, was inspirational to me.
You grew up in rural New Zealand; what’s the best thing about a rural upbringing?
The best part of growing up in small town New Zealand is that it forced you to use your imagination. You had to be creative. You didn’t have the things big city kids had at your disposal. Both my older brother and sister had left home by the time I was 10, so I was like an only child and my imagination became my outlet. I would create plays, skits, and yes I had a boom box with a microphone so I would record my own radio shows. Funny how that came to form the confidence I would have now behind a microphone!
If you weren’t a radio host what would you be doing and why?
Probably acting. It would have to be something creative and when you use your imagination as much as I do, acting would seem a very natural alternative to radio. I’m not cut out for a 9-5 desk job. But being on a stage with a live audience? For some people that thought is horrifying, for me, it’s like an adrenalin-filled thrill ride. It’s exciting.
What’s your category specialty in pub quizzes?
I LOVE pub quizzes. Love hosting them, love taking part in them. I am the guy at the quiz who knows that random answer to a question that others have no clue about. The kind of knowledge that only comes in handy at a quiz night. My specialty is anything pop culture like movies and TV. And of course, music. And sport. They’re all my specialty!
What’s one thing most people don’t know about you?
Most people don’t know I can sing. It’s not something that comes up very often. I do some song parodies on my radio show every now and then. But get me two drinks deep at a karaoke night and suddenly it’s “Tonight Matthew…I’m going to be…” like it’s something off Stars In Their Eyes. Again, and this is a recurring theme, anything to do with a microphone and I’m all in!
If you could have dinner with three music legends, who would they be and why?
I have been a Pearl Jam fan since I was 13 years old. Absolutely obsessed with that band and the music. It has been the soundtrack to my life, so lead singer Eddie Vedder is a definite at the table.
From my time at Coast, we play a lot of Fleetwood Mac and recently I got to chat with their drummer Mick Fleetwood. We talked for the full 15 minutes I was allowed and a couple more, but we were only just getting started so he can have a seat.
My final guest would be Adele. Not only does she have one of the purest voices I have ever heard live in concert, and she’s sold all those albums, but she would be HILARIOUS! Imagine having Adele round for dinner? Yes please. I love that she has that angelic singing voice but then she talks like a cast member of an R18 version of Eastenders.
With that lot, there’d be more wine than food consumed, but what a night!