New Zealand’s premier radio celebrates 100 years on the air
Radio Dunedin, formerly known as 4XD, claims to be the premier radio station in the southern hemisphere and one of the oldest in the world.
Today it celebrated a century on the air, something Otago Radio Association President Gordon Paine says no other station has done.
“It’s huge, 100 years of continuous broadcast. Nobody else in the country has done it, and we don’t know how many others in the world,” he said.
“We’re the longest-lived – there’s no doubt about it. We’re older than the BBC.”
Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson grew up in the southern town and returned today to unveil a plaque marking the event.
He said lasting 100 years in any type of broadcast is an “incredible achievement”.
“I always love coming back to Dunedin and remember Radio Dunedin 4XD very well as it was part of my childhood here,” Robertson said.
“Few communities in the world would be able to sustain a radio station like this continuously for 100 years.”
This is where volunteers come in. They largely run the station and keep it afloat.
Hundreds of volunteers have come and gone through decades, all contributing to the love of radio.
“For something to survive 100 years in an industry as tumultuous as broadcasting, it takes real commitment and the volunteers at Radio Dunedin are a phenomenal group of people,” said Robertson.
“They’re so dedicated to broadcasting and so committed to being a part of this community, so volunteers are what makes this station.”
They handle all broadcast hours minus the afternoon show, hosted by Dan Murphy.
“It’s truly amazing that it lasted this long, but not just to last this long but to stay true to his heart,” Murphy said.
But all was not smooth.
Lyndsay Rackley has been at Radio Dunedin since 1961 and says the biggest challenge came in 1985.
“We had a young teenager who burned down our transmitter site,” he said.
“3ZM or 3YD as it was called at the time, was the station the young teenager from Andersons Bay couldn’t hear after we turned on our transmitter at five o’clock.
“That’s why he burned the transmitter so he could hear his station in Christchurch.”
It took a week to get back up and running and streaming great music and even better stories.
“I love that so many people rely on us for companionship, and it’s a big part of these people’s lives, we get phone calls out of the blue just to say ‘hello, how are you? you?’ and I’ve worked at other radio stations before – that doesn’t happen,” Murphy said.
Murphy says a Radio Dunedin audience is usually over 50, someone who loves older music, loves a good lead and is passionate about Dunedin.
“Because it’s all about Dunedin.
“We play the Eagles, a bit of Bob Marley, Bob Seger, the Hollies, the Rolling Stones, all the good old stuff.
“But if you catch yourself on a night or a weekend where the volunteers are playing, it could be anything; it could be the 80s, it could be the country – it could be any show at the era.”
And audiences love it – it’s the second most popular music station in town.
Gordon Paine of the Otago Radio Association is confident the station will survive another century to provide many more years of southern comfort.
“You hear it from Oamaru to Balclutha so it’s part of Otago but it’s part of Dunedin, the fabric of Dunedin life.”