New Zealand celebrates 100 years of radio

New Zealand celebrates 100 years of radio
Chloe Arentz

This month marks the 100th anniversary of radio in New Zealand. The nation's first voice and music radio transmission was broadcast by the University of Otago's Professor Robert Jack on the evening of 17th November 1921. Transmitted from the university's physics department, Professor Jack beamed out the song, "Hello My Dearie", to local residents. The following year, New Zealand's first radio station, Radio Dunedin, was established and continues to broadcast today.

Radio stronger than ever
Since this first broadcast, New Zealand's demand for radio content has grown significantly. According to the most recent GfK Total New Zealand Commercial Radio Survey, almost 3.7 million New Zealanders listen to radio each week. From news and emergency broadcasts to entertainment and chart topping music, the demand for radio in New Zealand is still going strong, 100 years on.

Celebrations across the country
To commemorate the nation's radio centenary, major media outlets including RNZ, Stuff and the Otago Daily Times, have spent the month of November paying tribute to the major media milestone.

In a statement, RNZ CEO and Editor-in-Chief Paul Thompson said even the advent of new platforms has done little to dull radio's reputation as a vital source of information and entertainment for many. “Radio is an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling...I believe that radio is going from strength to strength, and at RNZ, our integration with digital platforms has enabled us to connect with more New Zealanders than ever," he said.

Radio Broadcasters Association
Jana Rangooni, CEO of the Radio Broadcasters Association, said little has changed in terms of what audiences want from radio since 1921. "I’ve been in radio around 30 years of the last 100 and in that time a lot has changed but the fundamentals of what people want from radio hasn’t," Jana said. "People want to know what’s going on in the world that’s news, information, but also some perspective and context on what’s happening from personalities and brands they trust."

According to Jana, people still use radio for music and entertainment, "but what has changed a lot is the competition for people's time and attention we face, and the technology and platforms we deliver content on every day". "One of my favourite quotes ever from a listener in a music radio focus group in the UK, about 20 years ago, says it all: 'I just need you to tell me what’s going in the world, what I need to know today, make me laugh, then shut up and play a song I love.'"

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