Radio week: The community connection like no other

New Zealand has more radio stations per capita than any other country in the world. From religion to culture, language to music, districts to cities, our radio stations are continuously bringing communities together and enhancing the diverse culture of our country.

Made up of 4.8 million people, and a variety of ethnicities, New Zealand is a proud multicultural nation. With our diverse landscape comes the need to make sure people from all backgrounds, interests and demographics are supported, and the wide range of radio stations in New Zealand is built to do exactly that.  

New Zealand radio isn’t just for the networks – there are independent and community stations serving wide cultural backgrounds from Maori Iwi, Pacific Island communities, Chinese audiences and ethnic minorities. Following that there are also offerings for a wide range of religious groups and endless stations covering special interests.

One radio station dedicated to the Indian New Zealand community is Radio Tarana. The station includes news, entertainment, music, and information, broadcasted in both Hindi and English. Radio Tarana managing director, Robert Khan, says the station is a 25-year-old brand that connects Indians in New Zealand to their culture.  

“Radio Tarana aims to create a mutual understanding between different migrant groups, with different interests and ethnic origins. Being one of the countries with the largest amount of radio stations per capita, New Zealand is extremely diverse in its radio culture.”

Robert Khan

Khan says that it’s important that all demographics of a community are catered to, and radio is one of the best mediums that can do that as it’s adapted to reach mass audiences at scale. 

“Regardless of environment and changing habits, radio’s instant messaging will always be its greatest strength.”

Radio’s adaption to suit everyone has come naturally as the technology has changed to make it more accessible to all demographics. For Khan, keeping up with the times is a strength, but also a constant challenge.

“The face of NZ and the landscape of NZ radio is not the same as it was 20 years ago. Radio consumption has changed due to the changing needs of our audience and diversity is a key factor. This change makes it important for us Radio Operators to cater to these different and types of Radio Consumption.”

As radio reaches the widest audience, it allows for an infinity of subjects. Stations can offer an array of shows and programmes, from reports and documentaries to music and podcasts, there is something for everyone. 

It’s not just this wide reach that sees our radio landscape excel. The ability to have local voices engaged in the granular detail of what is important to communities is a sweet spot for New Zealand radio. One such station is  1XX, an independent commercial radio station engaged with the Central and Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Radio 1XX has proven its importance since starting in 1971 as a link for the community, and noticeably in the 1987 Edgecumbe earthquake, 2004, 2005 and 2017 floods and the 2019 White Island eruption.

Managing director of Radio 1XX, Glenn Smith says radio’s diverse landscape is a reflection of our culture and our social fabric.

“With monopolies and duopolies, there’s a uniformity and homogeneity that tends to avoid the truly quirky stuff- for understandable commercial reasons. In New Zealand, the diversity we have with ethnic, iwi, student and access stations, along with commercial independents and with low-power operators is truly a mirror of our cultures.”

Glenn Smith

He agrees with Khan that the wide range of our networks is helped by the easy way radio can ingrain itself within most technologies.

“There’s a wide range of opportunities for views and opinions to be broadcast and expressed, and with streaming, this has the ability to reach a global audience.”

For Smith diversity is something that is important to protect. He says recent times have proved that networks that extended towards a large range of different audiences still have room to grow, and radio’s future is strong in its footing.

“Radio is critical to our social fabric and with the current crisis is more important than ever. Radio is a resilient medium and there are compelling reasons for it to survive,” says Smith.

Radio is the most consumed medium at a global level, reaching the widest audience and in turn, shaping society’s experience of diversity. Radio provides a platform for all voices to be able to speak and be heard and with its stations, can offer a variety of programmes, viewpoints, and content which reflect the diversity of their audiences. 

Find out more about the Independent and Community stations in New Zealand at https://www.trb.co.nz/brand-profiles

This story is part of a content partnership with The Radio Bureau.

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