Taranaki-born Murray “Muzza” Inglis, one of New Zealand’s most colourful radio hosts, has died in Auckland’s Mercy Hospice after battling myeloma. Inglis, who turned 80 just two days ago, died early on Sunday morning May 14.
Nigel Horrocks reports: He worked at numerous radio stations throughout Australia and New Zealand, often at the prime-time breakfast slot and notched up a number of sackings for pushing the boundaries with on-air comments and antics that today would be no doubt considered completely politically incorrect.
This was at a time in the 70s when local stations were independently owned after the government opened up private broadcasting in the wake of the Radio Hauraki pirate venture. Commercial stations were fiercely competitive and often poached successful on-air staff.
During his five decades of broadcasting, he also notched up major successes both in ratings and acknowledgements including in 1977, winning a prestigious American award from Billboard magazine as the South Pacific broadcasting personality of the year. In 2016, he was recognised locally at the New Zealand Radio Awards with an award for services to broadcasting.
His most famous on-air stunt occurred in Christchurch when rating highly on the ‘Muzza in the Morning’ breakfast show on independently-owned Radio Avon which opened in 1973. In 1977, the government’s poorly rated commercial rival 3ZM desperately decided to change its format to try to match Avon with the cheeky name of Radio Nova (Avon spelt backwards).
As Nova’s change was about to take effect, Inglis supposedly threw a tantrum in an “argument with station management” and locked himself in the studio and continued to broadcast by himself for 48 hours. Only a very few station staff personnel knew the sit-in was really a stunt to keep people listening to Avon which they did as the publicity overshadowed any hope of Nova’s success. The sit-in story as portrayed by Avon at the time made headlines in papers like the New York Times.
Among the early local independent stations he worked on included Radio Hauraki when on land and its Auckland rival Radio i as well as early FM stations in Auckland 89FM and 91FM and Radio Windy in Wellington.
In his early days he was determined to be in radio and joined the Government’s broadcasting service then known as the NZBC as a clerk. He auditioned to go on air but those auditioning who saw announcers as needing to match those on the plum-voiced BBC said his accent was too nasal and Kiwi and rejected him. So he headed to Sydney where began a career that spanned commercial stations throughout Australia.
In recent years, he broadcast on a small Devonport-based station called the Flea and then ran his own classic hits internet station from his lounge.
Inglis first announcing job in Australia was in 1964 at 5RM, Berri followed by stints at 3BO Bendigo and 7HO Hobart before moving back to NZ in 1970 to do evenings on Radio 1 Auckland. But, 16 months later he was back in Oz, stopping at 4AY Townsville and 4BK Brisbane before ditch-hopping again to land at Radio Avon and then Hauraki.
His big break came in September 1977 when he was appointed the inaugural Breakfast announcer at 2WS, Sydney’s first new radio licence issued in more than 30 years.
Photo below courtesy of Blacktown City Libraries