NZME launches Hokonui Radio in Hawera, looks for greater rural reach

NZME is set to launch its dedicated rural radio station Hokonui Radio in Hawera next week, with the aim of targeting the large farming community that lives there.

In a week, listeners will be able to tune into 88.2FM or 1557AM to listen to the station. Radio host Bryan Vickery is also moving from Coast to host the new Hokonui Breakfast show from 6am to 9am on weekdays, an NZME release says (the radio station is also streamed on iHeartRadio.

“Hokonui is a radio brand that already celebrates dynamic rural communities around the country and will be a great fit for South and Central Taranaki,” Vickery says.  

“I have lived and worked in Taranaki for the last 15 years and this new station aims to keep locals entertained and informed. With 1,200 dairy farms and more than 370,000 dairy cows in South Taranaki alone, Hokonui Radio will also feature Jamie MacKay’s very popular Farming Show.”

NZME Radio general manager for central region Greg Murphy says that the radio station has been launched in this region, specifically due to the size of this rural community.  

“Launching Hokonui Radio does mean a few frequency changes for the listeners in the area,” Murphy said in the release. “We thank the Hawera community for taking the time to readjust their radio dials and for their ongoing support of Hokonui Radio, Coast and Newstalk ZB.”

It could be a lucrative move for NZME considering the rural market is worth a lot to the Kiwi market, as evidenced in the research conducted by Waikato/Bay of Plenty-based agency King St.

As part of the study, seven hundred and fifty-nine farmers—314 dairy and 346 dry stock—participated in a 15-minute phone survey conducted by independent research firm, Versus Research.

“It’s the largest study of its kind to be conducted and provides some extremely valuable information, along with some fresh insights,” said King St chief executive Chris Williams upon the release of the study. “If you think farmers are behind the times as an audience, you need to think again. Radio, TV and print are still going strong but it’s in digital media where we saw some big moves, particularly with the under 40s. And rather than being behind, they are ahead in some instances.”

The big three traditional areas of TV, radio and print are still very highly used across all segments:
•    95 percent watch TV daily
•    87 percent read the newspaper daily
•    They all read the rural publications; all have a weekly repertoire
•    82 percent listen to the radio daily
BrandWorld also saw the value of the rural market, launching Field Trials, a masthead that aims to showcase products targeted at farmers.

Although the previous four mastheads–Discover, The Extra Mile, Eating Well and Family Health Diary—sometimes featured products that appealed to both the rural and urban markets, the new offering focused exclusively on targeting farmers.

“The rural sector is our nation’s backbone,” says BrandWorld’s managing director Richard Stevens. “It’s also the single largest opportunity for many goods and services with around 68,000 holdings nationwide and an average per farm spend of $341,000 each year.”

Despite these impressive numbers, most mainstream agencies have thus far been reluctant to take on rural clients.

“I wouldn’t necessarily call it a reluctance,” says Kim Ellet, the host of the masthead earlier. “It’s more a case of it being a specialist field that certain agencies focus on.”

In an email to StopPress at the time, BrandWorld put emphasis on a broad range of statistics from the Ministry of Primary Industries.

“Over the past 25 years, productivity in the primary sectors has grown strongly. The Ministry for Primary Industries estimates the agriculture sector’s total productivity has increased by an annual compound growth rate of 3.3 percent,” says one excerpt from the Ministry’s observations.”

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