When Hayley Holt takes on a task, she goes into it full-throttle, so when her bosses at More FM asked her to get her first-ever tattoo on air, the new breakfast show presenter didn't hesitate.
“I was going to get one done anyway,” she says. “I'd been thinking about it for a while, but once I decided, they asked me to wait for two months and get it done on air,” explains Hayley (32), who has joined co-presenters Marc Ellis and Stu Tolan on the primetime show.
“The biggest problem was that while it seemed like a good idea to get a tattoo done live, the noise it made – well, let's just say it sounded a bit dodgy! “Marc and Stu were listening in the studio and were trying to explain that yes, it was the sound of a tattoo needle!”
The trio have only been working together for a short time – they had a few “practice” shows last December, after Hayley's predecessor Amber Peebles left, before returning to air last week – but already their natural humour is proving a ratings winner.
Ex-dancer, snowboarder, Fight for Life contender and The Crowd Goes Wild presenter Hayley is more than a match for renowned prankster Marc's dry humour, while “the only real disc jockey”, technical wizard Stu, keeps the show on track. “Things can get quite dodgy quite quickly around here,” he smiles. “My job is to get in, get out and make sure we don't offend too many people on the way!”
“It's been a pretty intense learning curve for me and there have been a few ups and downs already, but I love it - even if I do have to get up at 4.45am!” says Hayley, whose previous morning regime began at the later time of 9.30.
“I'm not a natural early riser. My life has changed dramatically. I'm trying to get into the habit of going to bed early, but I can't sleep – it's too light and I can't get used to the sound of kids playing on their bikes while I'm trying to sleep!”
While Marc, Hayley and Stu (31) have never worked as a trio before, they quickly got used to each other. “The three of us work really well together – I didn't know Stu before, but we were instant best friends,” says Hayley, teasingly.
"Yeah - we connected on a spiritual level," deadpans Stu. “Well, I'm a blokey girl, which helps here!” fires Hayley. “And I'm a girlie bloke. So it all works out!” Stu retorts.
But while Hayley and Stu are brand new best friends, it's a return to old ways for Hayley and Marc (41), who first paired up for the TV game show Top Town in 2009.
“I do love that I'm working with Marc again – even though he gives me a really hard time,” says Hayley. “His type of humour can offend some people, but we fire really well off each other. I get where he's coming from and we understand each other. He enjoys getting me in trouble, but I think it's funny!”
Indeed, despite numerous reports that “loose cannon” Marc's future is as unpredictable as his humour – reports that he was defecting to TVNZ were proved wrong earlier this year, despite endless speculation – the entrepreneur and ex-All Black is loving his role behind the mic.
“On radio, you have to be honest, which for me is quite new and refreshing,” he says. “We have some great listeners – some people genuinely have really strong opinions and aren't afraid to share them.”
While for the most part people’s reactions to the show are positive, Marc admits there have been some hairy moments. “We got through to Johnny Depp’s French farmhouse and left a saucy ‘come hither’ voice message – only a couple of weeks later he was a single man,” he says with trademark mock seriousness.
Marc is no stranger to controversy, so it's no surprise that he loves the freedom live radio brings. What's more of a surprise is how open he is. “Radio's surprisingly intimate – you have to give a lot more of yourself on radio than you do on TV, where essentially you're just playing a role,” he explains.
“I don't think I'd have been able to do this job when I was 30, but I have a wife and two kids now. I'm changing, my priorities are very different.”
More FM Breakfast airs from 5.30am on weekdays
Catherine Milford and Kelly Bertrand