26 Feb 2013

Broadcaster Phillip Leishman dies

7:00 am on 26 February 2013

Veteran broadcaster Phillip Leishman has died. He was one of the most popular sports broadcasters on television over the past four decades.

Leishman, 61, was diagnosed with a brain tumour a year ago. It was removed, but his cancer subsequently returned.

His warm and inclusive on-air personality made Phillip Leishman one of the most popular broadcasters in New Zealand television over the last four decades.

Born in Timaru, Leishman entered broadcasting as a NZBC filing clerk, immediately after graduating from St Patrick's High School, in 1970.

He began presenting the racing show Turf Talk in the mid 1970s, and became a regular TVNZ presenter for the Olympic and Commonwealth Games until 1996.

Throughout the 1980s, Leishman also presented sports news for TVNZ, including during the Springbok Tour in 1981.

His natural presenting style and on-air charm won him a loyal audience, and saw him leave sports news to explore the world of entertainment as host of the game show Wheel of Fortune - a role he held from 1991 - 1996.

He presented 1250 episodes of Wheel of Fortune. Leishman also hosted travel shows, the Halberg Awards, Miss New Zealand contests, and became a sought-after MC and guest speaker.

In 1997 he returned to his 'first love' of sports broadcasting, founding the production company, Uplink (now known as Sportinc) in 1997.

He spent the past 15 years of his career presenting and producing the Golf Show on Sky Television, interviewing the world's top golfers, including Tiger Woods and Ernie Els, at golf courses and venues across the globe.

In 2011 Phillip Leishman was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to broadcasting and the community.

He is survived by his wife Michelle and three children.