With as much drama in her life to rival any soap opera, you can rely on broadcaster Pam Corkery to tell a good story.
The 56-year-old has been married three times, partied with the rich and famous, found love in rehab and even served in parliament – but a return to radio is her most recent triumph.
Now working as a night-time voice on Newstalk ZB, Pam’s also found a new friend in the form of co-presenter Tim Roxborogh.
In just over a year, the pair have doubled the audience for their show, The Two, from 13% to 25.7%. Pam and Tim have slotted easily into on-air banter and the 25-year age gap hasn’t stopped them from bonding off air as well.
“Dare I say it, we’re quite good people – we’ve got compassion,” says Pam.
“We generally have the same sorts of views,” adds Tim. “And we nut them out without acrimony.”
“I look forward to coming to work, but only this [show],” insists Pam, who has taken a step back from aggressive on-air debates.
The Two covers topics in a friendly manner, from political scandals to listeners’ opinions on the new drink-driving ads.
It’s been 10 years since Pam has had a regular radio slot, hosting the breakfast show at the now defunct Radio Pacific. Before that role, she was the showbiz editor at The Sunday Telegraph in Sydney.
She’s recording many of her favourite stories in a memoir, which is due to be released by Hachette before Christmas.
It includes exciting stories of her sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle in Australia during the 1980s before she returned to New Zealand to work in radio.
“I’ve been so fortunate. I’ve had lunch with a Beatle [George Harrison]. I remember waking up thinking, ‘Oh s***, Wednesday!’ And then going, ‘I’m having lunch with a Beatle in front of the Sydney Opera House!’
“Larry Hagman was lovely,” Pam recalls. “And Sue Ellen [Linda Gray] was the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen in the flesh – more beautiful than on TV.” Other memorable encounters for Pam include musicians Bob Dylan and Tom Petty and, most recently, comedian Russell Brand.
Pam also plans to recount her struggle with drugs and alcohol, and the controversy over her shelved plans to establish the first brothel for women.
She explains one of the reasons it didn’t work was the safety of her female clients.
Pam had been advised that all of them would need to be walked to their cars, as they could be preyed upon.
“The security we required would be so high,” she says. “Our surveys suggested we would have to make sure every woman got home safely.”
Pam took her own moral stand on the issue, fearing the controversial business venture would take over her life.
“I’m all for it, but did I want it to be my statement?” she asks.
“I would have had to be there 24 hours a day to make sure it didn’t operate badly.
“I knew it would end up shaky – with the best will in the world there would be drugs, there would be standover tactics.
“But at least it promoted a healthy debate on the issue, so it wasn’t a lost cause.”
Being drug and alcohol free for the past four years is why Pam believes her life has turned around. She’s found love again, with Kerry Fraser – a man 11 years her junior, who she met at a 12-step recovery programme.
But he’s not the only younger man having an impact on her life, with Tim, who is 31, coming on the scene. And despite their age difference, there’s been a meeting of minds.
“Tim’s got a mature soul, I’ve got an adolescent one. We meet somewhere in the middle – he’s like my brother,” says Pam, smiling.
“We never try too hard to be funny,” adds Tim, who gaveup a job offer to work as a cruise director on a large ship to try out talkback radio.
“And we’re not mean,” Pam points out.
Like anyone, she still has her down days, but Pam knows she can rely on her sister Judy, who is in Australia, to help keep her chin up.
“She said, ‘How dare you grizzle. You have had a life that most women would kill for.
Sit down and write your memoir. You’ve been to China, you’ve stayed with gangs and been on an intrepid journey in Columbia,’” laughs Pam, who will dedicate her book to her sister.
She also has two adult daughters, Josie (39) and Kerry (37), and Pam says they no longer fear their mum will do something to embarrass them.
“They said, ‘We’re past that now. You can’t do anything more!’”