15 Dec 2023

The Year in Detail

From The Detail, 5:00 am on 15 December 2023

It's the end of the year for The Detail. In our last podcast for 2023 we look back on the highs and lows

A scenic view from high up in a remote area of bush on Aotea Great Barrier Island.

The view from Te Paparahi Photo: Supplied/Tū Mai Taonga

Hanging off the edge of a cliff in a storm; the first shocking sight of Esk Valley after the cyclone; the never-ending world of conspiracies; the Israel Hamas conflict ...

In 2023, over nearly 300 episodes, The Detail has covered these issues and much more.

In today's final episode of the year, our co-host Sharon Brettkelly speaks with producer Alexia Russell and co-host Tom Kitchin about their favourite podcasts of the year.

"It's been the year of anger," Brettkelly tells Russell.

"We have had quite a lot of vitriol... I'm thinking you did a podcast about 'the murky world of the manosphere'... the reaction that you got from someone to that was so over the top really!"

Russell reads out an excerpt from the letter: "a lot of problems today are actually caused by women, who have had their minds addled by feminism," it started. 
"Talking about reaction - angry reaction - some of it you expect when you do a podcast," Brettkelly says.

"For example, we did a couple on the gender wars and there was quite a lot of outrage at what we thought were very balanced podcasts. Sometimes it's whatever you put in, you're going to get at least one angry email.

"I thought that the [Israel-Hamas] one that you did with Stephen Hoadley was extremely balanced... and I think we got two complaints about it," Russell tells Brettkelly.

"It doesn't matter how balanced you think you are, someone on the other side or a side will take offence - we've had a lot more formal complaints this year then we've ever had before and  - you talk about the year of anger - they're going straight to the official website and straight to the official complaint - nobody talks these things out anymore." 

Stories about the weather were also big this year - one of Brettkelly's favourites was going to Titirangi after the Auckland anniversary weekend floods and seeing the Cyclone Gabrielle damage in Muriwai.

"There was one man I sat in the car with outside his home - that was the road that was really badly hit," Brettkelly says of her Muriwai podcast.

"He had nothing - he was living in a caravan - he didn't know what his future was.''

Brettkelly says getting out and about "is the treat" of her job.

"You never know what you're going to get...like when I was hanging on the side of a cliff I suppose you'd say out at Aotea-Great Barrier, counting black petrel and it was a very very stormy day.. that was not a junket!"

Brettkelly produced two podcasts on her trip to the island.

One of Russell's favourite podcasts was the Long Read episode "The Badjelly Chronicles". Long Reads were published on Saturdays, and featured written stories in audio form, often read by its author.

"I had the good fortune to speak to a Badjellyologist Gemma Gracewood. 

"I had practised my cackle - and it was taken out!" 

Brettkelly also talks to Tom Kitchin about some of his favourite episodes, such as one about the 15 minute city conspiracy and the reaction in a particularly "angry year".

"I remember getting a few e-mails -  one particular person sent me an email with probably about 20 links as to why it was a conspiracy," Kitchin says.

"If someone sends me an email with 20 links - I don't have time to look through 20 links. Sometimes I'll respond to them if I think it's valid criticism but I can't respond to everyone."

They also talk about an episode on tiny homes which Brettkelly and Kitchin call "sweet and light" but also "controversial". 

"Why it might be light and sweet - is because we talk to someone who lives in a tiny home to get a bit of insight... but the reality is it's really tough - you've got to get so many different consents and it's really complicated," Kitchin says.

And there's one that stood out to Kitchin - his trip to Hawke's Bay after Cyclone Gabrielle.

"That was an area I knew so well - let's compare what it was like before and let's compare what it was like after. There was a beautiful church, there were schools, there were nice homes, there were vineyards, a nice park by the river."

He talks about how it was so different and all that had been washed away - smashed windows, bright pink spray-paint markings on houses and a terrible smell.

"The last time I went there it was very much like that, it'll take people there a long time to recover.''

The Detail will be back on January 29 next year. 

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