Radio Background in NZ

1921 was the year New Zealand experienced its first radio feel when Professor Robert Jack of the Physics Department, University of Otago made the first radio broadcast precisely on 17th November. However, in 1922, Radio Dunedin was launched but commenced live broadcasts on 4 October, 1922. Broadcasting became widely accepted in New Zealand in 1925, courtesy of the Radio Broadcasting Company (RBC). This followed the advent of station 1ZR in 1930 which had their first operations in the Queen Street premises of Lewis Eady Limited located in Auckland. Some outstanding broadcasters that worked with 1ZR at the time included Rod Talbot, Aunt Daisy and Dudley Wrathall.

The Evolution of FM Broadcasting in NZ

Invented by Edwin Armstrong, an American Engineer in 1933, Frequency broadcasting is a system of radio broadcasting using Frequency Modulation (FM). Until recently, records have it that the United Kingdom and New Zealand made use of one allocation of FM Broadcasting (88.0 – 105.0 MHz). This allocation can be traced to the 405 line, a VHF allocation block of the television system. The 405 line system was taken up by the UK and was almost adopted by New Zealand in the 1950s who ended up adopting PAL in 1960. The allocation had severe hitches until the 1990s when the band was broadened to the full 20 MHz due to the reassigning of channels by users elsewhere. The two countries (New Zealand and UK) now operate on the standard global allocation of 88.0 – 108.0 MHz basically for FM. Radio Data System (RDS) subcarriers are now also permitted in New Zealand even though their adoption is not universal. RDS is used by Radio NZ for its network but it is still not accepted by commercial radios since the technology is not universally adopted.

In 1982, the first FM station in NZ, a temporary station called FM 90.7, located in Whakatane broadcasted from 5th January – 31st January.  Magic 91FM, Auckland was actually the first permanent station to broadcast on FM in NZ. It was closely followed by 89 Stereo FM which had its broadcast on 89.4FM. The both stations no longer operate anymore. Radio Active, a student’s station owned by Victoria University of Wellington was the first FM station to legally broadcast in Wellington on exactly 22nd February 1982. Over the years, FM stations in New Zealand had been tailored to meet a specific targeted audience like having a special station for Maori tribes; some others for smaller ethnic minorities, Missionary- oriented Christians, Pacific Island communities and special interests.

List of the Most Popular FM Stations in NZ and their Locations

  • Auckland 104.6FM
  • Access Manawatu 999AM
  •  Arrow FM, Masterton 92.7FM
  • Coast Access FM, Kapiti Coast and Horowhenua 104.7FM
  • Free FM, Waikato 89FM
  • Access Radio Taranaki 104.4FM
  • Wellington Access Radio 783AM
  • Fresh FM, Nelson-Tasman 104.8FM, Takaka 95FM, Blenheim 88.9FM
  • Radio Kidnappers, Hawke’s Bay 1431AM/104.7FM
  • Plains FM, Christchurch 96.9FM
  • Otago Access Radio, 105.4FM/1575AM
  • Radio Southland 96.4FM
  • Auckland 93.4FM
  • Christchurch 94.5FM
  • Central Otago 96.7FM
  • Coromandel 96.7/90.7/99.5/90.8FM
  • Dunedin 98.2FM
  • Hawke’s Bay 97.5FM
  • Kapiti and Horowhenua 100.7FM
  • Manawatu 98.6FM
  • Marlborough 89.7/98.7/97.1FM
  • Manawatu 98.6FM
  • Nelson 97.6FM
  • Otago 98.2FM
  • Pauanui/Tairua 91.1FM
  • Queenstown 99.2FM
  • Rotorua 91.6FM
  • Southland 91.6FM
  • Taranaki 92.4FM
  • Tauranga 95.8FM
  • Waikato 99.4FM
  • Wairarapa 99.9FM
  • Wanaka 97.8FM
  • Wanganui 97.6FM
  • Wellington 94.1/98.5FM


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