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Coggie puts down the mic

Coggie [at right] has umpired cricket for the past 23 years, and got into broadcasting through his reporting of the sport. PHOTO/FILE

After the news that Wairarapa’s very own ‘Coggie’ [Chris Cogdale] would be off the airwaves for the first time since 1992, Arthur Hawkes spoke to the veteran sports broadcaster about his life behind the microphone.

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Reminiscing on his 28-year radio career, Coggie summed it all up by saying “I’ve got no regrets”, a precious thing after his quarter-century in broadcast journalism, which has now come to an end after 130 Mediaworks redundancies.

Born in Wellington, he grew up on the Kapiti Coast, and later Auckland, before he found himself back in the capital aged 18, where he played rugby regularly, and was introduced to cricket a few years later.

“I played … but not very well,” he said.

Early on, Coggie worked in insurance, and was eventually transferred to Masterton in 1983. Here, he would later become chairman of Wairarapa Cricket; he’s umpired the sport for the past 23 years.

His radio career began with him phoning in cricket reports to Wairarapa’s radio station, then called Today FM.

“During one of the games, Central Districts v Northern Districts, I was doing reports every half hour or so.

“It was very much a local radio station and they wanted to know what was going on.

“After the match, Paul Henry [the station owner] rang me asking if I wanted a part-time job doing the sport.”

He later found out that Trevor Martin, who worked at Today FM, had put a word in to Henry about Coggie’s natural talent for sports journalism.

As ownership was shifted to Port FM, where the station went by the name Hitz89 FM, then to 2XS, and then to Radioworks, where the station was finally rebranded as More FM, Coggie would interview hundreds of household names in sport, but shared day one in radio with a kiwi icon of a different kind.

“I started work on the same day as Hilary Pankhurst, now Hilary Barry – she was a journo, I was just doing part-time sport. I can even give you the exact date: January 6, 1992.

“This consisted of a morning sports bulletin, and a sports show on a Sunday morning.

“Once the rugby season came we developed a rugby show called ‘Rattle Yer Cans Rugby’, which consisted of Paul Henry, myself, and local rugby identity Mark Benton.”

Coggie, Henry and Benton developed a movable feast, taking the morning show to pubs and clubs, and talking rugby over a cooked breakfast, where they’d be joined by a different guest each week.

Henry then sold Today FM in mid-1992, and Coggie was offered a full-time job under the new owners.

“It then became a Saturday sports show, with a bit of a Sunday wrap. I’ve still got my first show on cassette somewhere – I remember listening back to it a few years later and it was bloody awful!”

Chris Cogdale in the grandstand at Queen Elizabeth Park oval.

Over his career, Coggie has rubbed shoulders with some of the best sportspeople in the world, and owing to the station’s cosy recording booth, sometimes this shoulder rubbing was literal, particularly when he and good mate Phil Rutene interviewed Hurricanes’ prop ‘Big Bill’ Cavubati.

Superbike rider Aaron Slight was one of the first people Coggie ever had on, and the two developed a good relationship over the course of Slight’s riding career.

“In 2000, he had to have urgent surgery for a brain bleed, and he came to me after he’d recovered and said ‘I’d like to do an interview with you, and it’s the only radio interview I’m going to do’.”

Coggie has ridden in powerboats going 160kmh on the Ruamahanga diversion, raced around Masterton’s streets in sprint cars, played touch rugby with Sean Fitzpatrick on a closed Queen St, interviewed netball legend Irene van Dyk, the footballer Paul Ifill, as well as numerous All Blacks such as Zinzan Brooke, Colin Meads, Jonah Lomu and Christian Cullen, to name just a few.

He said one of the biggest draws was meeting the middle-distance runner Peter Snell.

“To me, he was a hero – when I was a little kid growing up, he was a god, the best in the world.”

Looking back on his career, Coggie said he was sad to be leaving the airwaves after such a long stint, but he had nothing but good memories.

“I want to acknowledge some of the long-term contributors like Trevor Martin [28 years], Phil Rutene [26 years], rugby commentator Grant Nisbett [22 years], Dean Goodin [20 years], Matt Spooner [20 years], Chris Grant [15 years], Ces Newton [10 years or more], and many others.

“The thing I take from it is how passionate people are for their sport – and it didn’t matter the sport.

“That’s the thing that came through for me most of all, the passion from the people who did the presenting, and the knowledge that they had of their sport.

“That’s the incredible thing – you take a lot of memories away from that.”

Coggie continues to write for the Wairarapa Times-Age, and still runs his successful quiz night business, which has been going strong since 1997.

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