Hauraki hosts suspended over Ben Stokes' mum call

Radio Hauraki breakfast hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath
Radio Hauraki breakfast hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath

NZME radio hosts Jeremy Wells and Matt Heath have been suspended after broadcasting a conversation with the mother of cricketer Ben Stokes, despite assuring her it was off-air.

The Radio Hauraki presenters were poking fun at the English all-rounder after his performance in the T20 World Cup final, where he was hit for four consecutive sixes by the victorious West Indies team.

Deborah Stokes, Ben's mother, was informed of the comments and phoned the station to complain about Wells and Heath "bagging" her son, who was born and raised in New Zealand.

Heath twice told Ms Stokes she was off-air, despite the conversation being broadcast.

Ms Stokes asked to talk to someone off-air before calling the comments about her son "absolutely unconscionable" for his friends and family in New Zealand, saying she was "totally brassed off".

"It's not even about the cricket. It's about the personal attack on him. They called him arrogant and then they called him some sort of name. They don't know him! They wouldn't have a bloomin' clue," Ms Stokes told Heath on-air.

When Ms Stokes learned their conversation had been broadcast live she made a complaint.

"Matt & Jeremy are famous for identifying where the line is and then ignoring it; however, putting Ben's mum to air without her knowledge, albeit defending her son, was obviously well over that line," NZME's Mike McClung says.

"They've been suitably reprimanded and are off-air tomorrow."

The following is a transcript of the conversation:

Deborah: I wanted to speak to somebody off-air please.

Matt: You wanted to speak to somebody of- air?

Deborah: Yes.

Matt: OK. You're off-air.

Deborah: I am?

Matt: Yeah.

Deborah: OK, that's fine. Look, I'm just ringing in regards to the programme that's on air. I think it's Matt and Jeremy? I just wanted to basically, I guess, put forward my thoughts with regards to the way they have bagged the English cricketer, Ben Stokes, this morning.

Matt: OK, yes.

Deborah: When they have never met him, they don't know him and maybe if they had tempered some of their inappropriate remarks and name-calling with some quotes of some supportive tweets he's received from some very well-known cricketers and just your ordinary Joe Blog cricket supporters, maybe...

Matt: Could you slow down a bit? I'm writing this complaint down. I've got to get it through to Matt and Jeremy.

Deborah: I don't know whether they realise he was actually born and bred in New Zealand, and quite frankly has family all over the country. And for those who listen to your station, for them to sit and listen to their cousin and their grandson being bagged like that is absolutely unconscionable and I'm his mother and I'm totally brassed off.

Matt: You're brassed off, are you?

Deborah: Oh yes I am brassed off.

Matt: Well he's a great cricket player. He's amazing.

Deborah: I know he is, but it's not even about the cricket. It's about the personal attack on him. They called him arrogant and then they called him some sort of name. They don't know him! They wouldn't have a bloomin' clue!

Matt: I don't remember them calling him any other words, other than he made some pretty arrogant comments before the game.

Deborah: No he didn't! It's a load of rubbish!

Matt: Yes he did.

Deborah: Arrogance isn't a part of his make-up.

Matt: Look, I'm writing it down here to tell Matt and Jerry he's a great player and that his mum loves him.

Deborah: Are you being smart here?

Matt: No.

Deborah: I just want to get the point across.

Matt: He's an amazing cricket player. He's incredible. He does our country proud and geez we'd love to have him playing for New Zealand. He's an amazing, amazing cricket player. Incredible.

Deborah: I get that, but what I'm saying is, for my family -- and a lot of my family have rung me and said, 'Have you heard this, Deb?' -- I'm just really disappointed. Say those things and then temper it with some positives. Have a look on Twitter, see the likes of Kevin Pietersen, Tino Best, Graham Onions, all of those people, giving him their support because they know that tomorrow is another day.

Matt: You're a lovely woman, Debs, and thanks for call and we'll make sure that gets righted on the show. You have a great day.

...

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