The man behind the mic
01 June 2023
With a career in broadcasting spanning more than five decades, 7 Saint Vincent resident, Barry Holland really has heard it all.
From humble beginnings as an electrical engineer, Barry’s first gig at Durham Street broadcasting studio in 1962 saw him running the coffees and cleaning the boiler.
“We’ve all got to start somewhere”, he said, and thanks to breakfast show host of the time, Merv Smith, Barry got an in.
“Merv really encouraged me to get in front of the microphone. It was on the breakfast show that I got my first taste of radio, from then – I was hooked, that’s where it all started.”
A young man in the 60s, Barry followed love to Australia, and surprisingly (or maybe not) found it in the shape of night-time radio.
Scoring some solo time hosting talk back radio from dusk till dawn, Barry got the opportunity to learn his style and get to know the people.
“I loved it because at that time of the night, there’s no one around in the studio, you learn how to talk to your listener and become their friend. Although, from midnight onwards – it’s a pretty mixed bag!”
It wasn’t long before New Zealand was calling Barry back and once landing on home soil, his career found momentum in the form of Newstalk ZB, becoming the voice of Saturday mornings for more than 20 years.
“The buy, sell, exchange segment was always a hit which always surprised me, but my niche was always sport – I’ll be the first to admit it, I’m sport mad!”
As a young boy Barry was diagnosed with polio, and although it limited his ability to play sport, it definitely didn’t stop him talking about it. Broadcasting gave him the ability to stay connected to the sporting world, so much so that he became a dab hand at commentating.
From commentating the 1988 Olympics in Korea to voicing the moment New Zealand rose to victory in the 1995 America’s Cup, there isn’t much Barry hasn’t done.
“I’ll never forget that moment – riding out on a tiny rubber dinghy, climbing on board the boat and at that exact moment the kids called to see where I was. Little did they know they’d soon spot me on TV, drenched in champagne aboard the victorious boat!”
The broadcasting landscape has changed dramatically over the years and Barry’s been there for it all. Although he doesn’t spend his time behind the mic like he used to, having recently celebrated being part of the industry for 55 years, he now shares his wisdom with the next generation of aspiring broadcasters with voice presentation coaching.
“I love a challenge and it’s fantastic to be a part of someone else’s journey.”
Barry’s top tip – “always be your natural self”.