Sunday, February 27, 2011

Local Community Radio Struggling in New Zealand

More status reports from David Ricquish of the Radio Heritage Foundation in New Zealand.

Low power local FM community radio stations in Christchurch are struggling to stay on the air and serve their local neighbourhoods with emergency and welfare support.

The Eastern suburbs have already lost one local FM station. Johnny Miller, operator of One-Eyed 107.1 FM in Hampshire Street, Aranui tells us his equipment is damaged beyond repair and his studio and house now uninhabitable. He doesn't know if his local community station can ever return to the air.

Beachbreak FM located at South New Brighton School is reported off the air because there is no power and their antenna hadn't been fixed since falling in the September 4 earthquake. However, if they can get a generator and help fixing up an antenna, they may be able to get the station broadcasting to the Brighton area and into Redcliffs and Sumner with local messages and information.

The status of Burwood Community Radio 88.2 FM about 1km away from QEII Park is unknown as is the status of The Wave 88.3 FM located at the All Saints Church in Sumner.

The brightest news comes from the earthquake epicentre Lyttelton, where local Volcano Radio 88.5 FM was able to return to the air with local messages and upbeat music within a few hours and continues with regular local updates.

In the St Albans & Mairehau area, Power Hits FM 87.8 kept broadcasting with a generator and now has full power and its signal reaches into parts of the eastern suburbs.

Nearby, Oak FM 107.7 at St Albans School remains silent. The studios are in a two story school building and until its cleared by engineers can't be used. It has full power and could be activated immediately to provide welfare and community announcements for the area.

The current status of Rapid FM 88.1 at Waimairi School is unknown and Radio Redwood 87.9 FM is on the air but with automated programming.

Whilst major radio networks are covering the city with AM and FM signals, their own local studios are within the CBD cordon and their broad coverage generally isn't local neighbourhood or suburb based. Local community access radio Plains FM 96.9 is currently silent. Reports from the Eastern suburbs indicate a news and information void as power remains off with no TV or Internet coverage and limited mobile coverage.

This information is supplied by the Radio Heritage Foundation, a registered non-profit organization that maintain New Zealand's only regularly updated guide to local Low Power FM radio stations at their website . Donations towards the 'Helping Rebuild Christchurch' project which was launched only the day before the earthquake as part of the Kiwi Radio Campaign are also welcomed through Paypal at the website or can
be mailed to the Radio Heritage Foundation, PO Box 20024, Newtown, Wellington 6242. Donations are tax deductible in New Zealand.

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