The Hits (New Zealand)

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The Hits
The Hits Logo.jpg
City of license 25 markets
Broadcast area New Zealand
Slogan All Your Favourite Hits
Frequency 89.1 FM - 106.1 FM
First air date 1993; 22 years ago (1993)
Format Adult contemporary
Language(s) English language
Audience share 282,000 weekly listeners (2014, TNS Q2[1])
Transmitter coordinates 36°50′49″S 174°45′54″E / 36.847°S 174.765°E / -36.847; 174.765Coordinates: 36°50′49″S 174°45′54″E / 36.847°S 174.765°E / -36.847; 174.765
Former callsigns 1ZM in Auckland
Owner New Zealand Media and Entertainment
Webcast 18 webcasts via iHeartRadio

The Hits (formerly known as Classic Hits) is an adult contemporary music radio network, broadcasting to 25 markets across New Zealand. It was set up by Government broadcaster Radio New Zealand in 1993 by consolidating existing stations into a single brand and has been privately owned since 1996. The Hits has had the broadest broadcast reach of any radio network in the country since 1996,[2] and is now available on 40 full-power FM frequencies and 18 iHeartRadio streams.[3][4]

Most of the individual stations started out as local AM stations owned by state broadcaster Radio New Zealand. Many have given a platform to broadcasting names like Selwyn Toogood, Paul Holmes, Peter Sinclair, Jenny-May Coffin and Jason Gunn.[5] John "Boggy" McDowell was an announcer on the Southland station for 33 years.[6] Despite a major reduction in local programmes since 1993, most stations still have a local three-hour breakfast programme or a six-hour daytime programme.[3]

An estimated 282,000 people listen to The Hits every week, including 85,000 people in Auckland region.[1][7] The network targets 25- to 54-year-old homeowners, socially-active parents and price-conscious household shoppers.[8] In April 2014, the network re-branded from Classic Hits to The Hits to attract more younger listeners.[9] Later that year, it came under the ownership of New Zealand Media and Entertainment.[10]


Early years[edit]

Classic Hits unofficially began in Auckland in 1987 when 1ZM (also known as 1251ZM at the time) changed music format to play "classic hits" music and branding was changed to Classic Hits Twelve Fifty One. In 1989 Auckland's Classic Hits moved to FM, becoming Classic Hits 97FM. The ZM station that exists in Auckland today is a new station created in 1997 to replace Magic 91FM.[11][12]

The local version of the green diamond Classic Hits logo used by Classic Hits 97FM Auckland in the 1990s.

Other stations in the Classic Hits group began as local commercial stations owned by the Government-owned Radio New Zealand, at a time when the New Zealand Government had a monopoly on the New Zealand radio market. In some regions, the station that would eventually become The Hits, was the only available radio station in that region. By the early 1990s, Radio New Zealand had switched most of their stations to FM but retained the stations original AM frequency for coverage in areas where the FM frequency could not be reached or for listeners with an AM only radio. The AM frequency was utilized for talkback and specialist shows in addition to the regular programming on the FM frequency. To cut costs and prepare the stations for commercial sale, Radio New Zealand began rebranding AM stations to Newstalk ZB and rebranding the FM stations as Classic Hits. The Classic Hits stations originally retained their heritage identity until 2009, and used a uniform green diamond logo until June 2011.[13]

The first group of the stations adopted the brand in 1993. Waikato's 1ZH became Classic Hits ZHFM, Bay of Plenty's 1ZD Radio BOP became Classic Hits BOP FM, Rotorua's Geyserland FM became Classic Hits Geyserland FM, Radio Taranaki became Classic Hits Taranaki FM, and Hawke's Bay's Bay City Radio became Classic Hits Bay City Radio. Similar names were adopted by Radio Northland, Gisborne's The Coaster 2ZG, Radio Nelson, South Canterbury's Radio Caroline, Dunedin's 4ZB and Southland's 4ZA. Wellington Goldtime Oldies B90FM and Christchurch's Goldtime Oldies B98FM also joined the network at this time, but retained an oldies format.[12][14]


In July 1996 the New Zealand Government sold off the commercial arm of Radio New Zealand, which included, among other things, the Classic Hits brand. The new owner was The Radio Network, a subsidiary of APN News & Media and Clear Channel Communications, which operated as a division of the Australian Radio Network.[15] The company expanded its reach with new purchases, converting most of its local stations to the Classic Hits brand.[16][17]

The new business controlled 60% of the radio advertising market in November 1998 and more than half the market in 2002.[18][19] However, in response to increased competition and falling market share, it looked for ways to cut costs. In its early years Classic Hits broadcast live local programmes in every region from Monday to Saturday, taking Auckland network programmes at night and on Sundays. In 1998 it reduced local programming to four hours a day in all regions except Christchurch, and introduced new network shows for mornings and afternoons. As Christchurch announcers left, their shows were also replaced with network programmes.[18]


In 1998 all of The Radio Network's remaining local stations formed the Community Radio Network. Each station retained its local brands and breakfast shows, but took network programmes from Lakeland FM in Taupo at other times of the day. South Canterbury's Radio Caroline left Classic Hits to join the new network. Other stations included Lakeland FM, Whanganui's River City Radio, Tokoroa's Radio Forestland, Manawatu's New 98FM, Radio Wairarapa, Marlborough's Radio Marlborough, the West Coast's Radio Scenicland and Ashburton's 3ZE. In 2001 the stations were rebranded as Classic Hits, giving Classic Hits the broadest reach of any station in the country.[2] A new Southern Lakes station was introduced in Queenstown in 2005, and the Radio Waitomo station in Te Kuiti closed down.[20]

By using new satellite networking technology, Classic Hits stations were able to have local shows at breakfast time, and have network shows with local ads, weather forecasts and breakouts at other times of the day. The local stations remained commercially viable in otherwise unviable markets and the network was able to invest in its brand and programmes. The company was able to leverage its reach for national advertising clients, including agency campaigns.[21][22]

Network programming[edit]

This Classic Hits logo was used after 2011, with a space for a local frequency.

In 2008, stations dropped heritage titles from their names. In 2009, a network breakfast show was introduced for King Country and for other markets when local hosts were away. In 2010, the King Country station was scrapped and local weekend breakfast shows were replaced with network shows. In late 2010, highlights of Christchurch and Wellington breakfast shows began to be broadcast during the weekend breakfast timeslot. Classic Hits Southland retained a local breakfast show with an unpaid announcer, and Dunedin produced a highlights show.[20][23]

In 2012 local breakfast shows were cut back one hour, and the networked morning and afternoon shows were shortened to make way for a new drive show with Jason Gunn and Dave Fitzgerald from the Christchurch studio. The remaining local Saturday breakfast shows in Manawatu and Southland were also cut.[20]

Transition to The Hits[edit]

In 4 April 2014 the National Business Review reported Pauline Gillespie and Grant Kareama were planning to move from ZM to a new network show on Classic Hits. The newspaper's source claimed 20 breakfast announcers would be made redundant.[24][25] This followed a period of declining Auckland and national market share.[19][26] On 15 April The Radio Network confirmed Classic Hits would become The Hits, and on 28 April the change took effect. The Classic Hits brand ended at midnight the previous evening, and The Hits brand was used from breakfast that morning. The first song played under the new format was Best Day of My Life by American Authors.[27]

Pauline Gillespie and Grant Kareama took over the network breakfast programme.[28] Most stations scrapped their local breakfast shows in favour of the new show, moving breakfast announcers to new daytime slot.[29] Others kept their breakfast shows, and continued taking network morning and afternoon shows.[9] Stations began taking a single network programme when hosts were away, and many local breakfast co-hosts took on other roles within the company or found other jobs.[30] The network's parent company, The Radio Network, became part of New Zealand Media and Entertainment in October 2015.[10]


Historic playlists[edit]

Classic Hits was named for its classic hits format, and the original Auckland station promoted itself as "The best of the 1960s, 1970s and the 1980s". When other stations started joining the network from 1993, they continued to create their own playlists. Regional stations retained a broad range of music, using the slogan "All the Hits from the 1960s to the 1990s". The Wellington and Christchurch stations played only music from the 1960s and 1970s, using the taglines "Good Time Oldies" and A Better Music Mix".[31]

In 1996, regional stations dropped music from the 1960s and adopted the slogan "From the Nineties to the Seventies". In 1998, the Auckland and Wellington stations followed suit and a shared network playlist was rolled out. Classic Hits was the station of the "Hits of the 70s, 80s and 90s" from 1998, and the station of the "Hits of the 70s, 80s, 90s and Today" from 2000.[31] The network dropped music from the 1970s in 2005, becoming the station of "80s, 90s and Whatever". It added more current hits in 2007, becoming the station of the "80s, 90s and now". It dropped more music from the 1980s in 2011, becoming the station of the "80s, 90s, today".[20]

Current playlist[edit]

Since 2014, the network has had an adult contemporary playlist mostly from the 2000s and 2010s. It used the tagline "All the Hits, All the Time" in 2014, and the tagline "All Your Favourite Hits" in 2015. Many of its tracks are from top 40 stars, like Coldplay, Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and George Ezra.[32]

The network plays a range of New Zealand music, giving promotion and airtime to Brooke Fraser, Benny Tipene, Lorde, Kimbra, Jason Kerrison, Ruby Frost, Anika Moa and Avalanche City.[33] However, it has been criticised for giving most of its airtime to American music.[34]


The Hits run a standard breakfast, daytime, drive and night schedule with breakfast running between 6:00am and 9:00am daytime programming between 9:00am and 3:00pm (with some markets running 2 shorter shows during this time), drive show between 3:00pm and 7:00pm and a 7:00pm to midnight night show.[3] The network broadcasts music, commentary and celebrity interviews.[35] Some hosts have also carried out on-air stunts or recorded parody songs.[36][37]

In 2005 the network apologised for an anecdote about a white South African woman becoming upset about being seated next to a black man on a plane. In the anecdote, the woman called the man a "kaffir". Classic Hits admitted the station denigrated white South Africans, and formally apologised.[38] Complaints about on-air discussions relating to sex, nudity, sexual innuendo and suicide have been referred to the Broadcasting Standards Authority but not upheld.[39]


The Polly and Grant Show, a live networked breakfast show presented by Pauline Gillespie and Grant Kareama, is broadcast from Wellington. Four stations broadcast local breakfast shows. Hawke's Bay breakfast is hosted by Martin Good and Sarah Van Der Kley, Dunedin's is presented by Callum Procter and Patrina Roche, Taranaki breakfast is hosted by Adam and Eyrn, and Southland's is fronted by James McRobie and Rachel Quinn. A highlights package of Polly and Grant is broadcast across every station from 05:00.[3] News, sport and weather are broadcast across every 15 minutes, and TrafficWatch is broadcast every 15 minutes. Former newsreaders include Alison Leonard (2004-2007), Melanie Homer (2007-2010) and Glen Stuart (2011-2014).[20]


Weekday mornings are hosted by Estelle Clifford and Dave Fitzgerald hosts weekday afternoons. Christchurch runs a local morning show presented by AJ Funnell. Dave Fitzgerald's show is broadcast from Christchurch as both a local show for Christchurch listeners and a network show for other regions taking the show, a third localized voice break is also produced for Auckland listeners.[3] Murray Lindsay hosted the daytime show for 16 years, from 1997 to 2012.[20]

Other stations carry six-hour local shows. Charmaine Soljak presents the Northland show, Blair Dowling hosts the Hamilton and Tokoroa day show, Will Johnson fronts the Tauranga programme, and Paul Hickey is the announcer in Rotorua and Taupo. There is a local show in Gisborne hosted by Connor Ruston, a Wanganui and Manawatu programme with Darryl Mallett, and a Kapiti and Wellington show with Guy Parsons. There is a show for Nelson and Marlborough hosted by Scott Radovanovich, a West Coast day show with Israel Bai, an Oamaru and Timaru break-out with Josh McIntyre, and a Southern Lakes show with Craig Ferguson.[3]

Other programmes[edit]

The Hits drive show is hosted by Stacey Morrision and Paul Flynn.[40][41] The show was previously hosted by Pat Courtenay (1998-1999), Andrew Dickens (1999-2000), Grant Bailey (2000-2003), Mark Bunting - Who was later fired (2003-2007), Jason Reeves (2007–2010), Jason Gunn (2012-2013), Justin Brown (2014) and Guy Parsons (2014).[20] The station's night show is hosted by Jason Tikao, with local voice-breaks for Auckland listeners.[3] Former hosts include Peter Sinclair (1993-1997), Andy Dye (1998-1999), Gael Ludlow (2001-2002), Dene Young (2003-2004), Dave Smart (2004-2007), Will Johnston (2007-2008) and Heemi Katene-Hill (2008-2009).[20]

Weekend mornings are hosted by Peter Dakin, and weekend afternoons feature a rotation of Estelle Clifford, Jason Tikao, Dave Fitzgerald and Guy Parsons. Party Mix, a commercial-free, announcer-free party music show, plays on Saturdays and public holidays. Sunday nights are hosted by Blair Dowling, and the network is automated overnight.[3] Previous weekend hosts include Pat Brittenden (2007-2009), Luke Taplin (2010-2011), Mike Plant (2010 - 2012), Andy Mac (2012-2014) and Guy Parsons (2011-2012).[20]


North Island[edit]

South Island[edit]

Other services[edit]

Events and promotions[edit]

Boh Runga performing at the Acoustic Winery Tour, an event which Classic Hits has sponsored.

The Hits runs a range of promotions, from activities at shops and gyms to giveaways of cars and travel.[42][43] It is the official radio network of the Silver Ferns netball squad, the Fast5 Netball World Series and local community netball tournaments. In 2014 and 2015, it was the official network of the ANZ Championship Northern Mystics, Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic, Central Pulse, Canterbury Tactix and Southern Steel teams.[44][45] Ticket giveaways and player interviews are broadcast on-air.[46]

Classic Hits has sponsored touring artists, local events and national music tours. Between 2012 and 2014, for example, it secured naming rights to the Acoustic Church Tour and Winery Tour events featuring artists like Anika Moa, Boh Runga, Hollie Smith, Gin Wigmore, The Exponents, Stan Walker and Breaks Co-Op.[47][48][49] Local stations have been involved in marathons, airshows, street races, and Christmas celebrations.[50][51][52][53] They have also sponsored velodromes, driving ranges and public health campaigns.[54][55][56]

Some stations in The Hits network support local branches of the Royal New Zealand Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.[57] In 2015 the network hosted a live video feed of kittens from Auckland SPCA, as part of a nationwide campaign to promote cat adoption.[58] It was accompanied by cat adoption drives at local SPCAs.[59]

News and information[edit]

The Hits broadcasts its own news and sport bulletins on weekdays drawing from NZME resources, and broadcasts bulletins from Newstalk ZB on weekends. The stations feature regular traffic information, including TimeSaver Traffic updates in Auckland, Hamilton, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.[60][61] Community notices and cancellations are also broadcast on a daily basis.[62][63]

Local hosts often editorialise about local events, politicians and organisations.[64][65] Some hosts been elected to local councils or have been the focus for political campaigns.[66][67] Some have also been the subject of on-air abuse by hosts on rival stations, being described as "fuckwits" or a "catty bitch".[66][68]

The network is one of New Zealand's five nationwide civil defence broadcasters.[69] Some local stations have performed this role during emergencies,[70][71] and others have committed to do so if emergencies occur.[72][73] The Christchurch station provided updates during the 2010 Canterbury earthquake, and continued broadcasting from a temporary studio in a motel room when its studio was damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[74][75]

Website and social media[edit]

The Hits website claims to reach 16,000 unique visitors a day, and 43,000 unique visitors and 164,000 page impressions a week. It targets women 35-44 with families, who are buyers of furniture, appliances, cars and holidays.[76] The website was launched in 2005, and redesigned in 2007, 2011 and 2014.[20] It currently features sections on recipes, parenting issues, videos, events, galleries, competitions and breaking news. The network has Twitter and Facebook pages, and each station has a Facebook page.[3]


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  36. ^ Akuhata, Karla (2 February 2010). "Co-host faces a curly farewell". Fairfax New Zealand. Waikato Times. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  37. ^ "New Zealand Girls by Jason Reeves". SoundCloud. melhays. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
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  39. ^ For a full list of relevant Broadcasting Standards Authority decisions see: "Decision search". Broadcasting Standards Authority. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
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  41. ^ "Stace and Flynny". New Zealand Media and Entertainment. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  42. ^ "Sarah gets a weigh in". YouTube. New Zealand Media and Entertainment. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  43. ^ "Fiat Punto find its first home". YouTube. New Zealand Media and Entertainment. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  44. ^ "Community Netball Sponsors". My Netball. Netball Waikato Bay of Plenty. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  45. ^ "The Hits Southland Wide League Final Placings 2014" (PDF). My Netball. Netball Southland. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  46. ^ "Classic Hits Takes Control of Centre Court". My Netball. Netball New Zealand. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  47. ^ "2012 Classic Hits Acoustic Church Tour". Chart. Christchurch Music Industry Trust. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  48. ^ Dangerfield, Amelda. "Classic Hits Winery Tour, Matakana - Avalanche City, The Mutton Birds, Gin Wigmore - Concert Review". Libel Music. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  49. ^ "The Classic Hits Winery Tour". Under the Radar Gig Guide. Under the Radar. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  50. ^ "Simon Mardon is the Run Mahana King". iSaavy. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  51. ^ "Classics of the Sky Tauranga Air Show". Classic Flyers. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  52. ^ "Classic Hits Greymouth Motorcycle Street Race". Motorcycling New Zealand. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  53. ^ "Advent Calendar - What's On". Waterfront Auckland. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  54. ^ "The Home of Cycling announces new exclusive radio partner". Cycling New Zealand. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  55. ^ "Classic Hits Driving Range". 2CU. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  56. ^ Dickinson, A., Peacock, K., Fair, N., Thomas, M., Nicol, R., Mikkelsen, J., & Johnstone, L. (2009). The implementation and evaluation of an oral healthcare best practice guideline in a paediatric hospital. International Journal of Evidence‐Based Healthcare, 7(1), 34-42.
  57. ^ "2008 Charity Auction and 'Paws and Bras' Lingerie Parade". Whangarei RSPCA. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  58. ^ Orzessek, Eli (26 May 2015). "'Kitty Cam' to help boost adoptions". New Zealand Media and Entertainment. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  59. ^ "To celebrate The Hits Kitty Cam". Facebook. New Zealand Media and Entertainment. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  60. ^ "Pyes Pa Bypass opening celebrations". New Zealand Transport Agency. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  61. ^ "Winter Driving Information". Queenstown Lakes District Council. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  62. ^ "Anzac Day Extravangza". Eastwoodhill Aboretum. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  63. ^ "Event marketing". Porirua City Council. Retrieved 4 June 2015. 
  64. ^ Nicholson, Danielle; Bunting, Mark (27 February 2014). "'I wish they'd stare down the Government and declare Hamilton free of legal highs'". New Zealand Media and Entertainment. Hamilton News. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  65. ^ "Mainland Television Ltd and The Radio Network Ltd - 2004-033". Broadcasting Standards Authority. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  66. ^ a b "Anderson and 3 Others and Cruise FM Waikato - 2012-133" (Authority decision). Broadcasting Standards Authority. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  67. ^ One example is GE Free Northland, which encourages its supporters to focus campaigns on Classic Hits."Writing to the media". GE Free Northland. Retrieved 3 June 2015. 
  68. ^ "Classic Hits 99FM and The Heat 82.3FM - 2001-113" (Authority decision). Broadcasting Standards Authority. 20 September 2001. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
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  70. ^ "Second night without power for many in North". Northland Regional Council. Media release. 11 July 2007. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
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  76. ^ "". Ad Hub. Retrieved 4 June 2015.