Rhema Media

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Rhema Media
Industry Broadcasting
Predecessor Banbury Recordings International
Founded Christchurch, New Zealand (1976 (1976))
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Area served
New Zealand
Key people
Mike Brewer, CEO
Services 1978: New Zealand's Rhema
1993: Life FM
1997: Southern Star
2002: Shine TV
2007: The Word
Website Rhema Media: Official
NZ's Rhema: Official
NZ's Rhema: Stream
Life FM: Official
Life FM: Stream
Southern Star: Official
Southern Star: Stream
Bible Radio: Official
Bible Radio: Stream

Rhema Media (previously known as the Rhema Broadcasting Group) is New Zealand's largest Christian media organisation. It owns radio networks New Zealand's Rhema, Life FM, Southern Star and The Word, and television station Shine TV, and publishes a local version of quarterly devotional publication The Word For You Today. The company is based at the Rhema Media Centre on Upper Queen Street in the central Auckland suburb of Newton, is named after its flagship radio network and is the founding organisation of United Christian Broadcasters.

Christchurch evangelical Richard Berry founded Rhema as an extension of his street preaching ministry, modeled on Ecudorian Christian short-wave radio station HCJB. The network extended nationwide in the 1980s, and the Life FM and Southern Star networks followed in 1997. The future of some of the 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]

The company aims for a more laid-back style than American Christian broadcasters, which it says are more "Bible-bashing" and less relevant to New Zealand's culture. Instead of constantly asking for donations on-air, the company hosts an annul donation drive in which hosts, celebrities and special guests campaign across all its media platforms for one-off donations and subscriptions to its financial supporter club. About 70 percent of the company's revenue comes from donations.[2]



Pat Robertson endorsed Rhema.

Private radio was neither a reality nor a possibility when the Rhema network was first proposed in the 1960s. However, Richard Berry and a friend from the Salvation Army started a studio in Christchurch, in the garage of his Banbury Street home. The small evangelical ministry held prayers and recorded breaching - initially under the name Banbury Recordings and later as the Gospel Radio Fellowship. Berry drew his inspiration from the Biblical verses Matthew 7:7, Matthew 19:26 and John 14:12.

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 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.[3]


In 1974 Gospel Radio changed its name to Radio Rhema, gained the endorsement of Pat Robertson and collected enough funding to employ Berry and twenty other staff. It failed to obtain a license on it first application, but received one-day licenses for Christchurch in November 1974, Petone in October 1975 and Christchurch for 10 days over Christmas in 1976.

At a hearing for a full license in 1978, after the three broadcasts, it had 7,235 members, 48,433 other supporters and the endorsement from churches and community groups. The application was successful and Radio Rhema was officially launched in November 1976. At the launch, prime minister Rob Muldoon said the station was inspired by "a faith that moves mountains".[3]


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.[3]

Radio networks[edit]

New Zealand's Rhema[edit]

New Zealand's Rhema broadcasts contemporary Christian music.

New Zealand's Rhema, Rhema Media's flagship evangelical Christian contemporary music radio network, takes its name for the Biblical word rhema. The initial programme/station manager, John McNeil, laid the groundwork for what has the network's relaxed talk and music format, in which a limited number of teaching programmes are intermingled with music, news and interviews.

As of 2015, the station features music programmes from Andrew Urquhart, George Penk, Diane Campbell, Luke Weston and Rosemary Jane, alongside Joyce Meyer, Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. Rhema is the founding network of United Christian Broadcasters, the namesake of many Australian radio stations, and the model for other UCB networks such as UCB Talk in the United Kingdom.

Frequencies include:

Life FM[edit]

Life FM plays Christian hit music.

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 dedicated Christian music network.

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.

Frequencies include:

Southern Star[edit]

Southern Star plays contemporary Christian music for an older audience.

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, Brian Ferguson, Glen Stephenson, UCB staff James Totton, Katikati His FM manager Rob Holding, Andrew Urquhart and Diane Campbell.

Frequencies include:

The Word[edit]

The Word is a radio network broadcasting continuous spoken Bible readings founded in 2007. It broadcasts a pre-recorded, automated, uninterrupted programme of Bible readings to relay stations around the country,[4] many from the The Bible Experience Today's New International Version starring Samuel L. Jackson, Kirk Franklin, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Denzel Washington.[5]

The network's original Hamilton and Invercargill frequencies were acquired for Southern Star, but became available when Southern Star starting broadcasting on new AM Network stations in both cities.[6][7] The Word is streamed via Winamp, Windows Media Player, RealPlayer, Quicktime, iTunes, BlackBerry and Symbian.[8] It is relayed by a low-power FM station in Tokoroa,[9] and is affiliated to UCB Bible in the United Kingdom.[10]

Frequencies include:

Other media[edit]

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.

News service[edit]

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. The programme was presented by Davina William and Allan Lee, with reports from other members of the Rhema News team. The programme was produced by former TVNZ staffer Pene Thomas. Nzone Focus was cancelled in April 2014.[11]

The Word for 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]


  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. ^ a b c Wooding, Dan (2003). Never Say Never: The Story of the Rhema Broadcasting Group: A Modern-Day Miracle, Rhema Broadcasting Group, 1/01/2003
  4. ^ "The Word". RBG. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Zondervan". RBG. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Radio Vault Invercargill". Radio Vault. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  7. ^ "Radio Vault Hamilton". Radio Vault. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  8. ^ "The Word". Bible Radio. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  9. ^ "Low Power FM Radio Stations". Web Wiz Guide. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  10. ^ "UCB Bible". UCB Media UK. Retrieved October 7, 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]