Former Radio Host blows whistle on "Howraki" pronunciation

By Talisa Kupenga

A radio DJ has caused a stir after outing his former employer for allowing the deliberate mispronunciation of its show's name for brand and marketing purposes. Former Radio Hauraki host Alex Behan wrote an online article yesterday taking a stand for why he thinks it needs to stop. However, following its publication, he was pulled from presenting his last show today.

Radio host Alex Behan is blowing the whistle on former employer New Zealand Media and Entertainment (NZME) who he says instructed him to incorrectly pronounce the station name Radio Hauraki to be consistent with the station's brand.

"There's nothing untrue in my article at all that was the first question I asked in my job interview that was the answer I was given. I had a number of un-responded to emails asking for formal direction on the issue and when I did have conversations about it I was told that the brand name would remain How-raki."

NZME Entertainment Group Director Dean Buchanan told Te Kāea, “Look, no one in NZME has been instructed to mispronounce any words in any language it's absolutely ridiculous."

Behan published an online article yesterday in the hope of sparking a conversation for change, given the station has incorrectly pronounced its name for the past 50 years.

“It's an issue that has rankled with me for a long time, now that I'm leaving that station I'm able to say what I've been thinking for quite a while," Behan says.

Senior Lecturer of Marketing at the University Auckland Dr Mike Lee says “Who owns culture? Who owns certain words? And who owns the right to pronounce certain words one way incorrectly or another way? I think at the end of the day it's not really who owns it but what's the right thing to do. That would be more in line with the brand in my mind."

However, what will come next for Radio Hauraki?

"I'd like to see them change the name to be honest, the way they pronounce the name," Behan says.

Buchanan says, “We think it's time Hauraki does actually change and it will and that's something we'll work on in the coming weeks."

Behan was to host his last Radio Hauraki show today but following his article, NZME told him he would not be required for his shift.