A Short History of New Zealand Radio Key Points Radio celebrated 100 years on December 12th 2001. A century has passed since Marconi demonstrated the practicality of the medium when he sent a radio signal from Cornwell, England to Newfoundland in Canada. Domestic radio services did not start immediately, and it was to be almost 20 years before anyone thought of using radio communications to entertain, let alone use as the base to build a business. 2LO London started the world’s first regular transmissions in 1918-1919, while KDKA Pittsburgh USA was the first to recognise the commercial potential of the new medium. KDKA still broadcasts today and has been number one in its market for nearly 30 years. Key Points In New Zealand constant political interference and strong ancestral ties to “Mother England” saw the BBC approach adopted and the slow introduction of commercial radio here. Constant changes in direction, a Thirty-year state monopoly and, now, the most free radio environment on the planet have all contributed to ensure the New Zealand radio industry is vibrant, colourful and rich in heritage. There is debate about the first broadcast – in terms of longevity on air. What is known in 1919, the radio station now called Radio Dunedin (4XD) started broadcasting in Dunedin, New Zealand when founder "Toots" Mitchell was presented with a triode amplifying tube by his engineer friend Edward Meinung. The opening song was "Robin Adair," sung by Mitchell's girlfriend at the microphone while Meining pedaled his bike the three kilometres from the sending station to his house where he had built a receiver. Not really the worlds biggest broadcast but at least his girlfriend got to sing the first song live on air!! November 1921: Professor Robert Jack makes the (controversial) first broadcast of recorded music in NZ from Otago University. Unlike Dunedin – this broadcast covers some of the region! He played a song called “Hello my Dearie”!) Many amateur and experimental stations follow. April 1923: The first broadcasting regulations are issued under the “Post and Telegraph Act.” 1925: The Radio Broadcasting Company is set up to operate Radio Stations on behalf of the government it buys a number of privately owned stations and converts them – including 1YA Auckland. July 1927: 2YA Wellington is the last of the “YA” stations to go to air. The four RBC stations are on air for just seven hours daily and each takes it in turn to have one “Silent” day each week. No advertising is permitted and religious programmes run all day on Sundays. There are no News Broadcasts. November 1931: A map published at this time indicates that, as well as the four RBC stations; there were 34 “B” class private stations. These were owned mainly by music stores or “Gramophone” Companies eager to promote their wares. They were forbidden to Broadcast commercials. April 1932: Frustrated by the lack of progress made by The RBC, the government hands control of the YA station’s to the New Zealand Broadcasting Board. The NZBB buys a number of privately owned stations in order to extend services and a second station is set up in four main centres – these later became the YC stations, now known as Concert FM. November 1935: On the eve of the general election, Uncle Scrims “Man in the Street” broadcast on privately owned station 1ZB Auckland is jammed by the Post and Telegraph department by order of the government, though this is later denied. It was widely believed that “Scrim” (Colin Scrimgeour) would use the programme to denounce the government’s decision to close the “B” stations. April 1936: Newly elected Prime Minister – Michael Joseph Savage, concerned that privatised radio may be anti Labour Party like many of the newspapers of the day, dismantles the NZBB and sets up the NBS (National Broadcasting Service) as a government department. September 1936: The National Commercial Broadcasting Service is set up to run New Zealand’s first commercial stations and Colin Scrimgeour is appointed its first director. The broadcasting industry is virtually nationalised and the remaining “B” class stations would all close within eighteen months. Privately owned stations would not emerge again in New Zealand for another 34 years. September 1937: Three days before the NCBS Wellington station 2ZB was due to start broadcasting, rival government agency the NBS started popular “Commercial” style programmes from a brand new station (It’s third in the capital) 2YD – later to become 2ZM. Though noncommercial, it was the first real taste of competition. 1939: With commercial ZB stations now operating in all four main centres, the NCBS sets up a temporary station 5ZB – at the centennial exhibition in Rongotai. Later in the year 5ZB was installed into a railway carriage and toured provincial New Zealand promoting commercial radio 1940-44: During WWII the government allowed radio to broadcast news for the first time. “News from the Prime Minister’s Office” as it was known was a regular feature until a full news service was set up in 1960. NBS and NCBS are amalgamated into the NZBS. Auckland station 1YD is loaned to the United States Army for use by American troops stationed here during World War II. 1946: A complete re-vamp of frequencies brought New Zealand in line with the Geneva International broadcasting convention. New Zealand and Australia also formed an agreement on the use of certain frequencies shared by both countries. All radio in this country is controlled by the government with the exception of the last two remaining “B” stations - 2XM Gisborne and 4XD Dunedin (Now Radio Dunedin – the oldest surviving radio station in the British Empire). April 1st 1949: A stunt by 1ZB breakfast announcer Phil Shone has Aucklander’s in their thousands spreading honey on window sills to trap an imaginary mile wide swarm of wasps supposedly headed towards the city. Shone had his listeners spellbound as he issued phantom reports on the progress of the swarm. The hoax had its consequences in parliament when the Broadcasting Minister voiced his displeasure and assured “Party Members” that steps were being taken to ensure that “Nothing like this ever happens again.” 1953: After a quarter of a century of broadcasting, the Post and Telegraph department is finally able to supply high fidelity “Wide Band” lines to link stations together. 1955: The 45rpm record is introduced – it revolutionises record buying, and eventually the recording and radio industries. 1956: Bill Haley and the Comets release “Rock Around The Clock.” Rock n’ Roll is born and music will never be the same again. 1960: The first Television programmes are transmitted from AKTV-2 Auckland - Stations in Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin follow over the next two years April 1962: Control of broadcasting passes from the NZBS to the NZBC (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation) a statutory government body. The NZBC is given the power to licence independent radio stations but never does. 1963: Broadcasting House Wellington is opened. It’s the first solid state (fully transistorised) broadcasting facility in the Southern Hemisphere. With the new state-of-the-art studios the National Programme is established with all programmes networked from the Wellington studios of 2YA - 24 hour a day. 1964/65: The telephone is introduced as a programme tool – the first talk-back programmes start. December 1966: The first weak signals from Radio Hauraki are heard. Hauraki is a “Pirate” radio station modelled on successful English stations. It broadcasts from an old wooden scow “Tiri” in Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. By Christmas she is broadcasting at full power on 1480, a frequency chosen because it would interfere least with existing NZBC stations. January 1968: The MV Tiri slips anchor to join in the search for a missing fisherman. As night falls her engine fails and she is unable to pick up her mooring. Tiri hits the rocks on Great Barrier Island and is wrecked. The Hauraki crew continues to broadcast as the ship goes down. The station returns to the air a month later broadcasting from a new ship renamed Tiri II. 1969: The New Zealand Broadcasting Authority is formed to listen to applications for the establishment of private radio stations. The Auckland hearing takes place in January 1970. March 1970: Radio Hauraki is one of two new Auckland stations granted a permanent broadcasting warrant. The other goes to Radio I, which had been sharing the 1ZM frequency with the NZBC for the previous two years. June 1970: Radio Hauraki’s last days as a “Pirate” station. The “Tiri” stayed in International* waters until the last programme – a documentary about the station had played. She then slipped her moorings and headed for shore but on the way back to port one of her announcers – Rick Grant – was lost overboard Early 1970’s: Private radio licences were granted to Radio Waikato, Radio Whakatane and Radio Otago. Christchurch’s Radio Avon started up in late 1973 and Radio Windy in Wellington (Now The Breeze) was the last of the first batch in 1974. The newly elected Labour Government decided to halt the introduction of additional stations and reversed a Broadcasting Authority decision that gave ownership of New Zealand’s second Television channel to a private company. Instead Labour insisted the channel be run by the NZBC and disbanded the Broadcasting Authority. 1975: The last station licensed by the Authority was Auckland student station Radio Bosom – renamed Radio B – now B-FM. The newly elected National government splits the NZBC into three; Television One, South Pacific Television and Radio New Zealand. The BCNZ, Broadcasting Corporation of New Zealand is set up as an administrative body to represent the interests of all three at governmental level. 1977: The Broadcasting Authority is reformed as the Broadcasting Tribunal, and additional licences go to Victoria University’s Radio Active and to new commercial broadcasters in Palmerston North and Invercargill. November 1978: In compliance with international convention, New Zealand changes AM band channel spacing from 10 to 9 kilohertz, leaving the United States Mexico and Canada as the only countries still on 10 kilohertz. Early 1980’s: Radio Pacific (Auckland) & Rhema (Christchurch) licensed. The Broadcasting Tribunal starts hearings on FM radio. Radio Active became the first to convert to FM in 1982 1983: NZ’s first commercial FM stations go on air in Auckland; Magic 91 – (now 91ZM) and 89X – (now heard as Newstalk ZB). Radio New Zealand’s 1ZM was forced by the government to de-commercialise. 1984 - 89: FM stations for Hastings, New Plymouth, Nelson and Whangarei. Many stations give up their AM band operations. 2ZM became ZMFM and its AM frequency was made available to local Maori Iwi’s. Auckland’s 1ZB switches to News & talk (1987). All Student radio moved onto the FM band and a number of Community stations were set up, most notably Plains FM in Christchurch. (1988) 1990: De-regulation – The New Zealand Radio Frequency Service, a division of the ministry of commerce, was charged with setting up an auction process to sell off remaining frequencies. Radio New Zealand introduces the Newstalk Format to its remaining ZB stations. This was the year TV 3 Started broadcasting, Sky TV started eight months later. 1991: The first large batch of new stations goes on air including MORE FM, The Edge and The Rock. Companies like Radio Otago and Energy Enterprises expand rapidly. The first digital automation system in Australasia (Audisk) is installed at 91ZM Christchurch. Mai FM opens in Auckland – because of a scarcity of available frequencies it is given a radiotelephone Licence and becomes the first station to broadcast outside of the allocated FM Band 89 – 100 1992: RNZ (still owned by the government) bought 89X in Auckland. Twelve months later the rock format is discontinued and the station simulcasts Newstalk ZB. Other Maori Language stations are set up including Radio Aotearoa in Auckland and Rotorua. Iwi stations make an appearance. 1993: New Zealand Radio Sales (RNZ) and P.R.I.S.M. (Private Radio Industry Sales and Marketing) combine forces to form The Radio Bureau – a national rep house for ALL commercial stations. Low powered “Guard Band” stations are allowed. 1994: Radio New Zealand’s operations are split into two separate divisions (New Zealand Public Radio & RNZ Commercial) in preparation for the sale of the commercial stations. A second round of spectrum auctions releases a completely new batch of frequencies and stations begin to form networks. 1996: The government (as owner) sells Radio New Zealand’s 41 commercial stations for $89 million to a consortium including American Clear Channel Communications. It becomes TRN (The Radio Network) while Public Radio returns to using the Radio New Zealand name. ZM stations in provincial centres are networked, and the ZB network expands beyond the main centres. 1997: Consolidation - TRN buys Primedia from British based GWR for $39 million, including Radio I and Radio Hauraki. Radio Otago sells it’s 7 North Island stations to RadioWorks, and buys Christchurch’s C93 and Nelson’s Fifeshire FM. RadioWorks and Radio Pacific merge. The Rock, Edge and Solid Gold networks expand. 1998/99: CanWest Global Systems (owners of TV3) buy MORE FM for $31 million, including 5 MORE FM’s, 3 Channel Z stations and The Breeze in Wellington. RadioWorks buys Radio Otago and independents in Palmerston North, Kapiti, Masterton, Whangarei and Tauranga. Solid Gold, Edge and Rock networks move to Auckland. TRN expands the Classic Hits and ZM networks. 2000: CanWest Radio buys RadioWorks for $100 million. The last remaining land mobile stations are removed from the upper FM band and the100 – 108mHz part of the spectrum is opened and designated “The Crown Reserve Band” exclusively for the expansion of non-commercial services. 2001/2002: Pacific network “Nui FM” and Maori TV both get away to troublesome starts. 2003: The “Last” auction for radio frequencies takes place. A handful of provincial frequencies (used temporarily on the basis they would one day be auctioned) are sold to the highest bidder. Interest is still keen and high prices are paid for some low powered and nonupgradeable properties. CanWest buys one of two Auckland frequencies for $6 million dollars – yet to go to air. TRN wins the bid for the second and pays $6.5 million – Now Coast FM. New “Guard Band” station regulations are introduced. 2008 The government opens up the upper end of the frequency band to more than just non-commercial stations It auctions 31 local FM commercial frequencies with strict local ownership and programming conditions. Not all are taken up and those not occupied are later offered for full commercial use. . While this was a boon for an operator like Beach FM serving Kapiti and Horowhenua for ten years leasing frequencies on a short term basis, many of the other leasees of the new local frequencies did not survive or failed to go to air, including those in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Reasons – the world-wide economic downturn, the existing fierce competition in the bigger markets and some smaller operators who were not well equipped. . THE FM BAND IN NEW ZEALAND The first portion of this band 89 – 93mHz was made available in 1983, prior to that all radio broadcasting in New Zealand was on the AM band. The 93 – 100mHz portion was opened up in 1991 and 100 – 107.7mHz in 2001. Stations are permitted to have a 200kHz bandwidth, though the band is allocated in 100kHz steps 88.0 - 88.7 Lower Guard Band Reserved for low power stations, Band with strict limitations on power and coverage. Local conditions vary. THE FM BAND IN NEW ZEALAND 89.0 – 100.0 Commercial FM Remaining non-commercial Band stations will Band vacate this part of the band and move above 100 100.0 – 106.5 Crown Reserve Band Non-commercial and ethnic services; National Radio, Nui FM. Concert FM, University stations and Community Stations will move here. Some commercial stations occupy this part of the spectrum. 106.7 – 107.7 Upper Guard Band Reserved for low power stations with strict limitations on power and coverage. THE FUTURE THE ONLY THINGS WE KNOW FOR CERTAIN 1. National radio will continue to expand its FM coverage. 2. Concert FM, University, Community and Polytechnic stations will move to the portion of the band above 100.0 FM, leaving a number of lower frequencies to be auctioned off. 3. In April 2011 the whole spectrum is up for auction again, though a deal between the Minister and incumbent broadcasters is expected to circumvent this process. ALSO ON THE HORIZON … DAB ……………(Digital Audio Broadcasting) HDTV …………..(High Definition Television) DBS …………….(Direct Broadcast Satellite – like Sky TV) RDS …………….(Radio Data System – Some stations already using this in a limited form) iPOD ……………Will this revolutionise radio usage ???