Rhema Media

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Rhema Media
Industry Broadcasting
Predecessors Banbury Recordings International
Founded Christchurch, New Zealand (1976 (1976))
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Area served New Zealand
Key people Mike Brewer, CEO
Services New Zealand's Rhema
Life FM
Southern Star
The Word
Shine TV
Website Official

Rhema Media (previously known as the Rhema Broadcasting Group) is New Zealand's largest Christian media organisation, broadcasting four radio networks and a television station, and publishing a quarterly devotional publication, from the Rhema Media Centre on Upper Queen Street in the central Auckland suburb of Newton. The group is named after its flagship radio network New Zealand's Rhema and is the founding organisation of United Christian Broadcasters.

The group was started by Christchurch evangelical Richard Berry, who was inspired by Ecudorian Christian short-wave radio station HCJB and by the Biblical passages of Matthew 7:7, Matthew 19:26 and John 14:12 to develop a plan for Christian broadcasting in New Zealand. The future of some of its networks was brought into question in 2010, when the Government required Rhema Media to raise 6.4 million dollars to renew its commercial radio frequencies for the following two decades.[1]


Private radio was neither a reality nor a possibility when the Rhema network was first proposed in the 1960s, and many people were sceptical about the idea. However, Richard Berry and a friend from the Salvation Army started a studio in the garage of his Banbury Street home. This studio was initially called Banbury Recordings Incorporated and later became Gospel Radio Fellowship. It was a small evangelical ministry which believed in the value of prayer and recorded preaching.

In the mid 1960s the group started preparing to begin broadcasting. Radio Hauraki had begun illegally broadcasting as a pirate station, and a government unable to enforce its regulations on the industry was forced to allow private broadcasting. Gospel Radio Fellowship used an old church building on Glenfield Crescent, Christchurch to set up new studios and a transmitter.

The station failed to obtain a license in 1972 as Gospel Radio Fellowship, because the Broadcasting Authority believed there was not public interest in such a station, and that the station lacked professional staff and finance. The group changed their name to Radio Rhema and gained the endorsement of Pat Robertson, but still failed to obtain a license in 1974.

The station did obtain licenses for a one day broadcast in Christchurch in November 1974, Petone in October 1975 and Christchurch for 10 days over Christmas in 1976. It had funding to employ Berry and twenty other staff by 1974. At a hearing for a full license in 1978, after the three broadcasts, it had 7,235 members and 48,433 other supporters, as well as endorsement from churches and community groups. The application was successful and Radio Rhema, since relaunched as New Zealand's Rhema, was officially launched by then Prime Minister Rob Muldoon in November 1976. Muldoon described the evangelical faith that inspired Rhema was "a faith that moves mountains".

Rhema continued to develop during the 1980s. In 1980 the Christchurch station obtained an 18-hours-per-day license and had thirty five full-time and ten part-time workers. In 1982 it gained a license in Wellington and had property and six staff in Auckland.


New Zealand's Rhema[edit]

New Zealand's Rhema
Radio rhema logo.png
First air date 1978
Format Christian music
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

New Zealand's Rhema is an evangelical Christian contemporary music radio network owned and operated by Rhema Media since 1978. The network currently features programmes from Andrew Urquhart, George Penk, Diane Campbell, Luke Weston and Rosemary Jane.

Rhema, which takes its name from the Biblical word rhema, is the founding network of United Christian Broadcasters. It is the model for other UCB networks such as UCB Talk in the United Kingdom.

The initial programme/station manager, John McNeil, laid the groundwork for what became the network's relaxed talk and music format, in which a limited number of teaching programmes are intermingled with music, news and interviews. This is to differentiate the station from American Christian broadcasters, which were perceived to be "Bible-bashing" and culturally irrelevant.

Subsequently instead of constantly asking on air for donation, the network hosts the annual Rhemathon in which hosts, celebrities and special guests campaign for one-off donations and subscriptions to the financial supporter club.[2]

Life FM[edit]

Life FM
Slogan "Live it."
First air date 1993
Format Christian pop
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Life FM is a contemporary Christian music youth-oriented radio network. It started at 2pm 6 March 1993 on 99.3 FM in Christchurch to the sound of U2 "In The Name Of Love" as a station broadcasting a mix of Christian and secular music. However, the frequency was leased from More FM and the station was shut down on Friday, 11 July 1997, and was moved to Auckland. It restarted Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty in 1997 as a 100% Christian network.

Listener contributions from around the world make up about 70% of the network's budget. Since 2004, regular "Lifeathon" live radio events have raised a large proportion of this budget. In 2010, the event's name was changed to the Life FM Support Drive. In 2014, listeners donated over $247,000 during the Support Drive - the biggest total achieved to date.

The station's flagship breakfast programme, The Morning Wake-Up, is currently hosted by Clint Randell and Bjorn Brickell. Holly Wiseman presents the daytime programme, Asher Bastion presents afternoons, and Josh Coombridge hosts the night show. Previous hosts include Cat, Diane Campbell, Ken Green, Mike OB, Elmo, Luke Weston, Paul Burnett, Bex, Frank Richie, Tom, Dan and Jase. George Penk hosts Sunday night talkback show The Forum, previously known as The Green Room and previously hosted by Tim Sisarich and later Frank Richie.

Southern Star[edit]

Southern Star
Southern star logo.png
First air date 1997
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

Southern Star plays classic contemporary Christian music and hymns, alongside Biblical teachings. It was set up through a lease on spare programming time when Radio New Zealand's AM Network is not broadcasting sittings of the New Zealand Parliament, and also broadcasts on FM frequencies in minor centres.

The station's breakfast programme is hosted by founding staff member Cathy Jenke. Peter Shaw hosts mornings, Dudley Scantlebury covers afternoons, Aaron Ironside hosts the drive show and Ross Browne presents the night programme. Previous hosts include Rachel Thomas (1997-2001), Brian Ferguson (1997-2003), Glen Stephenson (1997-2011), James Totton (2004), Rob Holding (2004-2005), Andrew Urquhart (2006-2011) and Diane Campbell (2010-2013).

The Word[edit]

The Word
First air date 2007
Format Audio Bible
Webcast Live stream
Website Official website

The Word is a radio network broadcasting continuous spoken Bible readings. It has been owned and operated by Rhema Media since its formation in 2007. The network broadcasts a pre-recorded, automated, uninterrupted programme of Bible readings to relay stations around the country.[3] It is also streamed via Winamp, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, Quicktime, iTunes, Blackberry and Symbian.[4] The network is also broadcast on independently owned and operated low-power stations, including one in Tokoroa.[5]

Most of the readings are extracts from The Bible Experience re-enactment of the Today's New International Version starring Blair Underwood Samuel L. Jackson, Kirk Franklin, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Denzel Washington, LL Cool J and Eartha Kitt.[6][7] Through its ownership by Rhema Media, The Word is affiliated to a similar internet-only radio station in the United Kingdom, UCB Bible, which also broadcasts Bible audio around the clock and also carries the tagline "Bible Radio 24/7".[8]

The network's main frequencies were originally acquired by Rhema Broadcasting Group (RBG) to be part of the Southern Star radio network. While RBG could broadcast the programmes outside Parliament sitting hours on the AM Network under a contract with Radio New Zealand, neither Hamilton nor Invercargill had an AM Network transmitter and frequency so RBG had to acquire its own. In 2007, when Radio New Zealand and the Parliament of New Zealand launched AM Networks in both centres, and RBG's airtime lease contract was extended to both of the new transmitters, the old Southern Star frequencies became available for RBG to put to new use as The Word network.[9][10]


Shine TV[edit]

Shine TV
Launched 2002
Picture format PAL (576i) 16:9
Country New Zealand
Broadcast area National
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Website Shine TV

Shine TV is a New Zealand Christian television channel operated by Rhema Media and broadcast on Sky TV channel 111, Telstra Clear Digital TV and Freeview Channel 25. It previously broadcast on analogue in Christchurch and Nelson until 28 April 2013, when the South Island switched off analogue television. It includes a mixture of locally made and overseas programming. Rhema Media was affiliated with United Christian Broadcasters when it owned the network of UHF station licences used by Prime TV but these were sold before Shine was launched.

From 2004 to 2007 Shine TV produced and broadcast its flagship current affairs programme Nzone. It aired Tuesdays and Thursdays at 20:00, and was hosted by Tim Sisarich and Bob McCoskrie. The programme opposed the criminalistion of corporal punishment in New Zealand and took a pro-life editorial stance to abortion. These presenters have since become the heads of Focus on the Family New Zealand and Family First New Zealand respectively, which worked on the petition for the Citizen's Initiated Referendum on corporal punishment.

From 2007 to 2009 this became Nzone Tonight, a daily newscast and current affairs programme. The programme was presented by Rachel Thomas or Asher Bastion, with sports segments from Andrew Curtis or Brooke Dobson. The producer and lead reporter was Rhema Media Head of News and Current Affairs Allan Lee. Various Rhema staff members reported for the programme. Other stories were sourced from news affiliates Newstalk ZB and UCB UK and freely from Voice of America. After 2009 the programme has undergone a further relaunch as a thirty minute weekly television newsmagazine, broadcast first at 20:30 Fridays and again 21:30 Saturdays and 19:00 Sundays. Asher Bastion, Brooke Dobson and Allan Lee presented, reported and produced the programme, before the latter two left Rhema Media.[11]

Print Media[edit]

The Word for You Today[edit]

Rhema Media is the New Zealand publisher of The Word For Today, a free daily devotional written by Bob Gass and published around the world by the United Christian Broadcasters group Rhema Meia founded. The origins of the devotional date back to 1992, when Bob Gass began jotting down various inspirations he had received based on over forty years of being involved in church leadership, and from Biblical principles and values instilled in him by his mother. After receiving a positive response in the United States, he offered his devotional readings to United Christian Broadcasters and its listeners.

An initial print run of 3,500 copies was made in April 1994 in the United Kingdom before it was later expanded to New Zealand in 1997.[12] An estimated 3.5 million copies are now distributed quarterly worldwide, with country-specific and translated versions also produced in Albania, Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Caribbean, Holland, Estonia, Portugal, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and the USA.[12] In conjunction with The Message Trust, a Christian youth ministry based in Manchester, The Word For Today has been adapted for younger audiences with The Word 4U 2Day in August 2003 and an audio version is broadcast on Life FM.[12]


New Zealand's Rhema[edit]

Market Location Frequency
1. Northland Kaitaia 549 AM
2. Northland Bay of Islands 99.9 FM
3. Northland Whangarei 621 AM
4. Auckland Auckland 1251 AM
5. Waikato Waikato 855 AM
6. Tokoroa Tokoroa 99.7 FM
7. Bay of Plenty Tauranga 540 AM
8. Rotorua Rotorua 93.5 FM
9. Taupo Taupo 95.1 FM
10. Hawke's Bay Hawke's Bay 99.1 FM
11. Taranaki New Plymouth 540 AM
12. Ruapehu Opunake 93.6 FM
13. Ruapehu Taumaranui 97.5 FM
14. Ruapehu Raetihi 95.0 FM
15. Whanganui Wanganui 594 AM
16. Manawatu Palmerston North 91.4 FM
17. Wairarapa Masterton 97.5 FM
18. Wellington Wellington 972 AM
19. Nelson Nelson 801 AM
20. Nelson Murchison 92.5 FM
21. West Coast Westport 94.9 FM
22. West Coast Greymouth 92.3 FM
23. Christchurch Christchurch 612 AM
24. Timaru Timaru 594 AM
25. South Canterbury Twizel 91.8 FM
26. Central Otago Cromwell 89.5 FM
27. Central Otago Alexandra 92.7 FM
28. Queenstown Wanaka 89.0 FM
29. Queenstown Queenstown 94.4 FM
30. Queenstown Te Anau 94.4 FM
31. Otago Dunedin 621 AM
32. South Otago Tapanui 99.6 FM
33. South Otago Clinton 88.5 FM
34. South Otago Balclutha 107 FM
35. Southland Invercargill 1404 AM

Life FM[edit]

Market Location Frequency
1. Northland Dargaville 104.2 FM
2. Northland Whangarei 98.8 FM
3. Auckland Auckland 99.8 FM
4. Waikato Hamilton 94.6 FM
5. Bay of Plenty Tauranga 106.2 FM
6. Whakatane Whakatane 104.9 FM
7. Rotorua Rotorua 102.3 FM
8. Taupo Taupo 107.0 FM
9. Gisborne Gisborne 100.5 FM
10. Hawke's Bay Napier 93.5 FM
11. South Taranaki Hawera 99.6 FM
12. South Taranaki Opunake 88.4 FM
13. Ruapehu Taumarunui 96.7 FM
14. Wanganui Wanganui 100.8 FM
15. Wanganui Marton 88.3 FM
16. Manawatu Palmerston North 96.2 FM
17. Wairarapa Masterton 88.7 FM
18. Kapiti Kapiti 96.7 FM
19. Wellington Porirua 98.1 FM
20. Nelson Nelson 93.6 FM
21. Nelson Golden Bay 106.7 FM
22. Nelson Golden Bay 93.6 FM
23. Marlborough Blenheim 107.4 FM
24. West Coast Westport 105.3 FM
25. West Coast Greymouth 94.7 FM
26. Canterbury Christchurch 87.6 FM (Low power)
27. Canterbury Rangiora 106.9 FM
28. Ashburton Ashburton 91.7 FM
29. South Canterbury Timaru 93.9 FM
30. North Otago Oamaru 97.6 FM
31. Dunedin Dunedin 94.2 FM
32. Central Otago Cromwell 91.1 FM
33. Central Otago Te Anau 91.2 FM
34. Queenstown Wanaka 107.5 FM
35. Southland Invercargill 100.0 FM
36. Southland Gore 105.6 FM

Southern Star[edit]

Market Location Transmitter Station Frequency
1. Auckland Auckland Henderson AM Network 882 AM
2. Waikato Hamilton Eureka AM Network 1494 AM
3. Bay of Plenty Tauranga Southern Star 657 AM
6. Taupo Taupo Southern Star 88.0 FM
7. Taranaki New Plymouth Southern Star 666 AM
8. Gisborne Gisborne FM Southern Star 92.5 FM
9. Hawke's Bay Napier Opapa AM Network 909 AM
10. Wairarapa Masterton Southern Star 100.7 FM
11. Wellington Wellington Titahi Bay AM Network 657 AM
12. Nelson Nelson Southern Star 612 AM
13. Nelson Murchison Southern Star 88.3 FM
14. Canterbury Christchurch Gebbies Pass AM Network 963 AM
15. Ashburton Ashburton Southern Star 106.9 FM
16. South Canterbury Timaru Southern Star 981 AM
17. Dunedin Mosgiel Southern Star 87.6 FM
18. Dunedin Dunedin Highcliff AM Network 900 AM
19. Central Otago Alexandra Southern Star 88.2 FM
20. Central Otago Cromwell Southern Star 87.6 FM
21. Queenstown Wanaka Southern Star 87.7 FM
22. Queenstown Queenstown Southern Star 107.0 FM
23. Queenstown Te Anau Southern Star 89.6 FM
24. Southland Invercargill Dacre AM Network 1314 AM

The Word[edit]

Market Location Frequency
1. Waikato Hamilton 576 AM
2. Taranaki New Plymouth 1278 AM
3. Canterbury Christchurch 540 AM
4. Dunedin Dunedin 1377 AM
5. Queenstown Te Anau 88.0 FM
6. Southland Invercargill 1026 AM


  1. ^ "Christian Radio Praying for Money Miracle". Newswire. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  2. ^ http://www.rhema.co.nz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=13&Itemid=38
  3. ^ "The Word". RBG. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  4. ^ "The Word". Bible Radio. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Low Power FM Radio Stations". Web Wiz Guide. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Zondervan". RBG. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  7. ^ "The Word". Bible Radio. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ "UCB Bible". UCB Media UK. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Radio Vault Invercargill". Radio Vault. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Radio Vault Hamilton". Radio Vault. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  11. ^ Rhema History
  12. ^ a b c www.ucb.co.uk The Word For Today & Bob Gass, accessed 2 May 09.

External links[edit]