Fletch and Vaughan 20 years together: ‘It’s like an arranged marriage - and it worked’

Publish Date
Wednesday, 3 April 2024, 5:26PM

It’s been nearly 20 years since one of New Zealand’s most successful radio broadcasting duos was thrown together by chance, and Fletch and Vaughan say it feels “surreal”.

The pair will mark two decades together on April 5. They recall that when they met, it wasn’t so much fate as a blind date.

“Like an arranged marriage,” Fletcher says. “And it worked, like a lot of arranged marriages.”

“It’s like velcro, one side’s prickly,” Smith jokes.

“I thought I was the soft side?” Fletch interrupts, but Smith charges on. “And I just hang on. I’m the soft part that just hangs on. And he’s the prickly, scratchy bit that does all the heavy lifting.”

“I do all the organising,” Fletch admits. “I’m like Vaughan’s work wife, and his wife is his home wife, and we somehow get him everywhere he needs to be.”

They’ve spent so much time together that they’re “past” getting sick of each other, Smith says.

“We don’t really have fights, do we?” Fletch muses.

“I don’t think I care enough. Soft velcro,” Vaughan laughs.

In real life, the pair trade banter and insults just like they would on air and while Smith admits “there’s certainly been times when we’ve frustrated people”, their rapport just works.

Last year their show won the hotly contested award for best music radio show – network at the Radio Awards.

There have been some memorable moments along the way, from getting Toto’s Africa to number one after 30 years to flying in a World War I biplane and travelling to Dubai, London and Cambodia.

Celebrity interviews are a big part of the job, meeting Cookie Monster and Elmo was a standout, as well as Taylor Swift, Kanye West and countless others.

“That was always the rule, you got them on the way up or the way down. You never got them at their peak,” Smith says.

“They’d be like, ‘Do you want to interview this singer? She’s up and coming. Her name’s Rihanna’,” Fletcher says. “And you’re like, ‘I don’t want to come in early to do an interview. Like, who is this person?’ And then you’re like, ‘oh, wow okay. She’s big now’.”

Another memorable interview was with Dizzee Rascal, Smith says, “because he was gonna stab Fletch”.

“He’s been stabbed heaps of times. And I said to him, ‘Would you rather have been stabbed all those different times or just get it all out of the way at once?’” Fletcher recalls.

“And he said, ‘How about I stab you and you get it all out of the way at once?’ And then the room went very quiet.”

The pair are set to relive some of those moments, along with “lots of nostalgia and lots of photos” during their live shows in Auckland and Christchurch this week, with the Ōtautahi show already sold out.

It’s the second year of Fletch, Vaughan & Hayley Live, and they admit it’s still a bit nerve-wracking having the audience in the room.

“On the radio, you never think about who’s listening. Like, you know people are, but you don’t really think about it,” Fletcher points out. “If you crack a joke on the radio you might laugh yourself, but you don’t hear people laughing.”

“You don’t know your success rate among the listeners but it’s pretty obvious when you’re in front of a crowd,” Smith jokes.

Elsewhere in the show, they’ll perform segments live — like Fact of the Day — and “exploit Hayley for everything she’s worth”, he adds.

Working with co-host Sproull, who took over from Megan Papas in 2022, is “amazing”, he says. “She just hit the ground running and hasn’t stopped. Even days where she’ll say, ‘I’m not having a great day’, and then the minute the microphone’s on she can put it all aside and belt it out for the show.”

Asked what it’s like working with “the boys”, Sproull jokes that it’s “incredibly problematic”.

“We get together in the morning, we’re excited to see each other, we have a lot of fun, and then we go home. And that is what I think is a normal working day. Like, that’s not always a given that you actually like the people you work with.

“My favourite shows are when we’re silly, we’re either losing our minds, overtired, hungover, or it’s a long weekend. And this energy comes in, usually led by Vaughan, he’s got like a little naughty boy brat twinkle in his eye, and he’ll just start derailing everything, and the three of us just crumble into like, who can make each other laugh the hardest.”

It’s the trio’s “genuine friendship” that makes it work, she says.

“None of it’s performed, nothing is forced. That’s why the audience feels like they’re just hanging out with us, because they are. We’re just chatting, but someone just happened to shove a microphone in front of us. I would say that’s the magic, is that we all genuinely really adore each other.”

ZM’s content director Ross Flahive has worked with both Fletcher and Smith over the past two decades, nine of those at ZM, and says it’s been “awesome”.

“Watching their journey from loveable rogues to leaders in the New Zealand radio and entertainment scene has been incredible. They’ve just kept growing and switching things up throughout the year, diving into podcasting, producing one of the country’s top entertainment podcasts, and delivering live stage shows with their co-host Hayley Sproull.”

“Being one of New Zealand’s longest-standing broadcast duos is a seriously impressive feat and the ZM team are incredibly proud of them.”

They’ve come a long way since a 22-year-old Smith won a radio competition to co-host with Fletcher at another station teehee. Looking back, he says he couldn’t have predicted that radio would still be a thing in 2024. “At broadcasting school in the year 2000 they were saying that radio was in its twilight years.”

Does he think they’re in for another 20 years together?

“I have a mortgage, a very large mortgage, so I’m somewhat hamstrung,” Smith jokes. “Nah, I think so.”

“Digital audio, podcasting, is every year just growing and growing,” Fletcher adds. “Podcasting is massive for us, we’ve got listeners all over the world, which is pretty insane. So yeah, we’ll just keep doing it for as long as we can. As long as they let us.”

Smith agrees that at this point, hosting radio with anyone else would be “way too hard”.

“What if I find another soft Velcro? It won’t stick.”

Here's to another 20 years of chatting shit with your best mates <3

First published by NZ Herald, republished here with permission.

Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you