New Zealand Radio


From someone who’s worked in NZ media and observed it at a distance, I would say deregulation has actually worked well in terms of nurturing niche formats, including those which are uniquely Kiwi.

NZ radio is basically controlled by 2 big companies; NZME and MediaWorks. This has allowed cross subsidisation of formats that may not be commercially viable on their own.

In Australia and elsewhere where there is great competition most networks will format “in the centre” in an attempt to garner the biggest possible audience. As a result you end up with variations on the same theme(s)

That’s not to say that NZ stations are not concerned about audience size (ratings) or making a profit, but with a unified back office and an obligation to justify holding so many licenses you end up with many different sounds.


This was really interesting thank you! Why do you think the younger generation want to sound American, is there a big USA influence in general?

I’ve been listening to The Edge a lot and I can definitely see a different in the type of speech content and commercials from the UK!

Do you think the music has been Americanised too or is there still some NZ music played?


That makes sense actually, that there are so many different sounds due to the number of licenses.
Do you think commercial radio cover some of the niches or are they usually picked up by the other smaller frequencies?


Commercial radio will generally go where the money is, so it’s not surprising operators gravitate towards the main stream.

Therefore in most “multiplayer” markets the niche formats will be picked up by non commercial players.

However, as I mentioned, in NZ, each of the 2 big players holds so many licenses they have to do something different to justify retention. I’m sure the NZ government would revoke licenses if the same company rolled essentially the same format across half a dozen stations in each market.


That depends on what is NZ culture? Short answer is it’s many things, and deregulation has allowed for more of those things to reach the airwaves. Rather than having four BBC-esque stations in the cities and one or two in smaller towns (usually one which was semi commercial), we now have a clutter of voices and formats.

Some of the speech has represented NZ, but that was happening anyway by the 80’s. NZ broadcasters used to speak the Queen’s English on air, but since the 70’s-80’s this was already changing (look up Karyn Hay). I don’t think deregulation had much impact on that. But now as others have said, the American Twang has begun to creep in, but I have a feeling this may have more to do with the influence of YouTube. Does it represent NZ, no, it represent’s the USA.

You might find Audioculture useful as a launching point, either for some context on what was getting to air, or some of the contributors there might know someone who knows someone.

Look up NZ On Air for NZ music played on radio, they should publish percentages, etc. If not, ask them, I’m sure they’ll be happy to help.

The NZ Yearbooks give some context on what the NZBC were trying to do with Commercial Radio before deregulation. This comes from the 1961 edition; “The emphasis in commercial programmes is upon entertainment and, in addition to advertising matter which occupies a relatively small proportion of total broadcasting time, listeners may hear variety, dramatic, and comedy programmes of high standard as well as informative sessions, reviews, and a comprehensive announcements service.”
Television may have changed what kiwi’s expected.

For context, rather than to answer your question, you can look up old NZ Acts here, for any laws regarding radio (and broadcasting in general). Then again, was the point of deregulation to better represent NZ culture, or simply the Neo-liberal ethos which will always haunt the Fourth NZ Labour Party?

Try Brian FM for a different format. They’re slowly expanding where they can (RSM auctions off spectrum from time to time).
There are two major radio networks in NZ now, the former commercial arm of Radio NZ (NZME) and MediaWorks which is the result of the private stations over time have merging. Both specialise in music, but NZME have a sport station and another talk station. There are still some independent stations, like 1XX Whakatane, again, mostly music focused (but at least giving the locals a voice!). Most of the NZME and MediaWorks content is pumped down from Auckland.
Iwi (Maori) Radio operates in most centres, and of course there’s the state-funded Radio New Zealand (RNZ). Rhema run a couple of religious stations, the major centres have Chinese, Indian, and possible other ethnic-based stations. Student radio and an uncountable number of low-powered stations litter the airwaves with generally niche music where the bass is turned up far too loud. So I guess there’s plenty of content floating about…

Now to actually answer your questions…

Do Commercial Stations have anything that stands out as NZ? Not really. Brian FM taps into the style of kiwi humour with their adlibs, but I hear little of this on the other commerical stations. Local issues and politics are sometimes discussed, but often have very little depth or usefulness. Local disaster coverage can be patchy.

How often is NZ Music heard? Not enough and with not enough diversity either. More 40 Watt Banana please!

Does the Speech used Represent NZ? In some cases, but it’s eroding. Can we blame globalisation?

What makes NZ Stations unique?" Not a lot. Programming is much the same over the developed world, feed my the same commercial mechanisms to maximise profit.

Does NZ radio represent NZ culture and identity? Iwi Radio does, but where else are you going to hear Te Reo (the Maori launguage) being spoken? Otherwise, you might as well be listening to a radio broadcasting from anywhere.

And I’ll add this, I think only RNZ’s National station really tries to speak to NZers in their own voice, although pre-recorded programmes like Ted-talks have begun to seep in. But they’re not commercial, so exist beyond the scope of your dissertation. And perhaps that’s the reason why it’s still important for the Nation State to fund such things as non-commercial radio, in so that amidst creeping global noise, our own voice can still be heard. Even if were not still entirely sure what our own voice is (sounds like a thesis on identity there!)

Sorry if that’s all too wordy!


Yep, NZ music isn’t a genre, which is why Kiwi FM failed.


Nor should it be in Australia. You can have country specific of a genre but not as an all encompassing genre.


the sound are doing the a-z countdown again in a couple of weeks


It’s actually starting tomorrow.


I really dislike Brian FM quite a few people like it. Nowadays I’m starting to actually get into more fm, not sure why but I’m a fan of the Christchurch Breakfast Club.

Also another station I have on most of the time is Real104 a local station in my town, they play current music and old music all sorts of genres. They have live breakfast, workday and drive shows and are good for any going ons around the district including weather and news. They also have news every half hour and in the mornings they have business sport and health briefings. Not sure if they source it from NZME or MW but the station is insightful up to date and relevant. They have a strong and proud brand.

Here is their stream,


ok…they advertised as march 18


That town would be Oamaru, correct? I noticed it there during my last visit (Dec 2017) but didn’t really listen. I’ll be back later this week so will give it a good listen. I know it runs RDS, too.

Brian FM is a pretty good listen imo; the format is rock skewed (at least in Alexandra/Cromwell) and the playlist is reasonably deep. I’ll be on the lookout for interesting LPFMs around the traps.

A pity that Hawk 104.3 got absorbed by Local Radio Central. I actually picked up the station from Sydney via E-skip and got a nice response from the operator. Burn 729 remains as a local station for Ranfurly. I never got to hear them live and local, though (perhaps this is because I visited around Christmas time).



Same thing happened with Mediawork’s as well didn’t it?

They seem keen to acquire the radio assets of either company but don’t want the TV side of Mediaworks and don’t want the print assets of NZME.


Both are so heavily integrated here in terms of operations companies will have to either buy the whole thing or buy nothing. Too far gone to be splintered out again.


Tracey Donaldson has left Mediaworks and joined NZME. Reports she is the new host of the 10-2 show on The Hits network.

Big loss to Mediaworks.


Interesting. Dave Nicholas moves to drive with Stace when Flynny leaves?

Or the Stace and Trace drive show? :laughing:


Good get.
Wonder if she had NZME in her sights before or after leaving The Sound to read Newshub radio news


Unusual for an LPFM to run RDS. Noted on previous visit (Dec 2017) but not recorded.


she was good on the rock and the sound