Toni Street: Why I'm quitting TV

Joanna Hunkin,
Spy News,
Publish Date
Saturday, 16 December 2017, 12:37AM

Toni Street spent months agonising about her decision to leave Seven Sharp, before announcing the move live on-air.

"I had nights where I was in tears to my husband saying 'why am I walking away from this dream job?' but in the end, the decision became quite simple. 'Do you want to see your children in the afternoon and evenings or do you not?' The answer was yes, I want to see them."

Street says she spent six months deliberating the move, before telling her TVNZ bosses in October.

"Our eldest daughter started school and suddenly I was going days without seeing her and that was unacceptable to me," she told the Weekend Herald.

Read more: John Campbell and Hilary Barry: Is this the new face of Seven Sharp?Is Jeremy Wells joining TVNZ?

The day after announcing the news, Street was hard at work for her other job, spending the day smiling and posing with her Hits radio co-hosts Sarah Gandy and Sam Wallace on the set of a marketing photo shoot.

Street followed in Mike Hosking's footsteps this year, becoming a breakfast radio host, in addition to her Seven Sharp hosting duties. But she says that isn't why she called time on the TVNZ role.

"It wasn't an issue of juggling two jobs. I feel like regardless of if I had radio, I would still be in this position because it was about working afternoons and evenings. That's when the quality time happens."

Toni Street will continue to host The Hits breakfast show with Sarah Gandy and Sam Wallace in 2018.

Street has juggled those hours - and the birth of her second daughter Mackenzie in 2015 - for four years, after taking on a role she was originally reluctant to accept.

"Initially when I got asked, [I felt] actual panic. I was happy with the team I had, I was with Rawdon [Christie] and Sam [Wallace, on Breakfast,] who were two of my best mates at TVNZ. We'd been rating well and I thought 'why would I want to change this?'"

She only changed her mind when Hosking became part of the conversation.

"I didn't sign until he signed. I rang him and said, 'I'm not signing my contract until I know you're going to be my co-host'. We had quite a few conversations back and forth. The first phone call was terrifying," she laughs. "Once he was on board, I signed after that."

Together, the pair turned Seven Sharp around, growing the ratings and finding an audience where its first panel of hosts - Ali Mau, Jesse Mulligan and Greg Boyed - never could.

"The huge thing I've learned is that to make a show successful you have to have chemistry. If you don't have that, you don't have anything," she said.

Street wouldn't be drawn on who might replace her and Hosking behind the Seven Sharp desk but offered this advice: "Just be yourself. Be who you are as a broadcaster because if you try to be anyone else it won't work. You've got to find your own rhythm."

It's understood Hilary Barry will move to Seven Sharp, leaving behind her Breakfast co-host Jack Tame. Despite their close friendship, insiders say that has never translated to on-screen chemistry and TVNZ bosses are now trying to find the perfect partner for Barry.

Suggestions that John Campbell would be a good match have been shot down by TVNZ insiders, who say that while he was initially mooted as a possible candidate, he is no longer in the running.

Matt Chisholm, Sam Wallace, Daniel Faitaua and Jeremy Wells have all been suggested as possible replacements for Mike Hosking.

Other names suggested include Sam Wallace, Matt Chisholm, Daniel Faitaua and Jeremy Wells, who has long parodied Hosking on his Hauraki radio show.

In a statement, TVNZ said an announcement regarding the new hosts would not be made until January.

It's understood Hosking's decision to follow Street and quit TVNZ was only confirmed hours before he made the announcement on air. Hosking will continue to host Newstalk ZB's weekday breakfast next year.