Radio star Steve Broad reveals the tragedy that drives him

Every morning on the way to work, More FM Southland breakfast host Steve Broad takes a moment to talk to his mum. Often on his way home, he stops to tell her about his day.

“She was always my biggest supporter – always there on the sidelines cheering me on,” he shares. “That’s what breaks my heart. I’m disgusted that she can’t listen every day.”

These conversations take place at his mother’s grave. The cemetery is on the road from the radio studio. Steve’s mother was his biggest fan when he pursued fame as a performer on New Zealand idol and The NZ X Factor, but she never got to celebrate with him when he scored his last gig, co-hosting the morning show in Southland, where he grew up on his parents’ sheep farm.

Steve and his mother Anne with their siblings (left to right) Kirsten, Frank and Sarah.

Crying openly as he talks to women’s day on the tragedy of losing “my person, my greatest cheerleader and my hero”, Steve reveals that his beloved mother Anne died last August of motor neuron disease (MND), just a few months after being diagnosed.

“Ever since I was young, she always said to me, ‘Steve, use your voice.’ It’s a privilege to do it now on the show in our own community. I know she would be proud,” he says.

Steve recalls the “shock that hit me like a ton of bricks” when his dad broke the bad news to him on the phone last March. Steve was then in Canterbury as Operations Manager of MediaWorks Radio.

“She was only 64,” he says. “She had lost weight and we noticed other changes, but she insisted she was fine. The moment I hung up on the phone with Dad, I immediately Googled ‘sickness’. motor neuron” and the first headline I saw was “All Doctors and Patient’s Worst Nightmare” and the word “terminal”. »

Steve performed his mother’s favorite song on The NZ X Factor

Despite the grim prognosis, the Broad family believed they had a “window of time” and were devastated to have lost Anne much sooner than expected.

“We were told we could have up to two, but it’s a race against time,” Steve says grimly. “Mom fought hard against a terrible disease, but then she caught RSV and deteriorated badly.”

During last year’s Tier 4 lockdown, Steve got special permission to travel to Invercargill to say his final goodbye. “I arrived in the evening and she was unresponsive but still with us. She was in her favorite place, at home, with all her family around her. I am blessed to have been able to talk to her. We all slept on the floor around her bed. At sunrise, the birds in the garden were singing so loudly. She loved her garden. At 7 a.m., she breathed her last.

Steve’s voice cracks again, grief still so raw and palpable, but he’s grateful that she’s been spared the more hideous aspects of the progressive disease.

“The tide of MND was going to wash away mum, but we were reassured that she didn’t have to go through the most cruel stages of the disease, like being in a wheelchair, unable to speak. She left this world as she lived her life – on her terms and with so much love for her family.”

Dating his mother was humbling. “I felt so loved and accepted,” Steve says.

Steve has always had a great relationship with both of his parents, but they became closer than ever after telling his parents he was gay before coming out more publicly six years ago.

“I had no doubts about their unconditional love, but I worried about the impact that part of me would have on them. They raised me on a Southland sheep farm in the Presbyterian and Pentecostal churches. It’s been a huge journey for me to find peace in keeping my faith and being gay.”

Steve had never publicly acknowledged his sexual preferences. During *The X Factor* there was speculation in the media that he and his mentor, All Saints singer Melanie Blatt, were more than friends, as well as rumors that he was dating girls from The Bachelor NZ.

“Although I eventually found peace, ultimately I didn’t feel comfortable that through my silence I was allowing this presumption that I was straight.” Before telling his parents, he called his radio mate Mike Puru for moral support and said he was ready to speak “my truth”.

“I’m sure she’s listening from above, always encouraging me.”

“It was texthard to get the words across. Mom was doing the dishes. She started bawling, dad too. I thought they were mad at me, that I let them down, but they hugged me.

“They weren’t crying in disappointment, but were sad that I had to wear it myself. I felt so loved and accepted unconditionally.”

Discovering his singing voice went a long way for Steve. Even though he came third New Zealand idol in 2005, throughout the show, he was reviled for being “terrible”, he recounts. “I loved to sing, but I was shy. When
I auditioned, I was only 19. I had never been out of Southland and my biggest audience was a sheep pen.

Despite the support of the judges and the team, the public mayhem got to him. “There were headlines calling me ‘Talentless Broad’. A lot of people approached me saying I was a** singer. Tomorrow from Annie.”

After Idol, Steve joined the Edge radio promotion team but left to become a teacher. A decade later, everyone was surprised when he auditioned for The X Factor in 2015.

“I wanted to show the kids I was teaching at Southland Boys’ High at the time that you should try something. Mum always said, ‘Don’t leave life with assumptions. It was a way to exorcise Idol demons.

“When Stan Walker said my voice moved him, it meant the world. This was the season when judges Natalia Kills and Willy Moon were kicked out for rude comments, but Natalia always had my back,
just like Mel Blatt. I was still criticized, but it didn’t bother me like it used to.

“I was 29 and had learned that what people said didn’t make or break me as a human being.”

Steve laughs as he recounts his “sinking moment” on live TV when R&B fan Mel convinced him to perform Usher’s song Climax while climbing a ladder. “It’s got scorching lyrics and Usher sings it in falsetto. I’ve never been so out of my comfort zone and felt ridiculous.”

But there were also uplifting moments, like when Steve performed his mother’s favorite song, Your Song by Sir Elton John, and met Ed Sheeran and Demi Lovato.

“I learned so much and I’m proud of myself for trying.”

The show was a catalyst for him to return to the entertainment business, joining MediaWorks in operations and promotions in 2017. Despite loving Canterbury and his work, after losing his mother Steve jumped on the job. opportunity to return home to be with his father. and sisters.

“Southland has always been my refuge,” he says. “I love the community. It’s a privilege to be behind the mic, keeping listeners informed and entertained, but more importantly telling their stories.”

Her passion for helping others was another thing her mother passed on to her.

“Mom loved people so much. She taught us to be kind, to value people above all else, and that greatness is about lifting people up,” he enthused. “But it’s only now that I’ve lost her that I can finally say, ‘Mom, I get it.’ I’m sure she’s listening from above, always encouraging me.”

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