Student Radio Network

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Student Radio Network
Student Radio Network Logos 2015
Broadcast area New Zealand
First air date 1969: 95bfm
1976: RDU
1976: Contact FM
1977: Radio Active
1981: Radio Control
1984: Radio 1
Format Student radio
Language(s) English

The Student Radio Network (known as bNet between 1998 and 2009) is a loose grouping of the current and former student radio stations in New Zealand. The network co-operates on advertising sales, collaborates on ideas and shares original programming. The student stations broadcast local independent news and current affairs, and have provided a platform for new or independent New Zealand artists.

The stations are fiercely independent and autonomous. Some are run by student associations while others are owned by independent non-profit trusts. The 2011 Canterbury earthquake and the introduction of voluntary student membership have raised fresh concerns about the future of student broadcasting, but the role of the stations continues to be recognised by New Zealand on Air and the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.[1][2]


The network began as a grouping of university student radio stations in major centres, and for a while operated as a commercial network of student union stations and former student union stations in six markets. In 1986 member station Radio One launched the Rad-One Card, a low-cost discount and loyalty card with on-air competitions, to raise funds. Similar schemes have now been launched by other stations, such as the Active card by Radio Active and the bCard by bFM and Bank of New Zealand.

It adopted the name bNet for over a decade, using the brand of Auckland member station bFM, and held the bNet NZ Music Awards between 1998 to 2007 to promote the role the stations played in fostering New Zealand music across genres. However, the group agreed to change its name back to Student Radio Network at a meeting in 2009, to reflect the broader range of student radio brands.[2] The stations continue to provide a spotlight for local bands, having previously helped promote Fat Freddys Drop, Kora, Jordan Reyne, Dimmer, Jet Jaguar, Shocking Pinks, The Enright House and some underground and electronica acts.

Founding stations[edit]


bFM operates in Auckland, New Zealand on Schedule 7 (educational purposes) semi-commercial licence. The station is based in the Student Union Building at the University of Auckland, is owned by a trust on behalf of the Auckland University Students Association (AUSA), and broadcasts its signal to greater Auckland at 95.0 on the FM dial. It was the promoter of the b Net New Zealand Music Awards and the popular Summer Series live events in nearby Albert Park, Auckland.

The station has developed into New Zealand’s leading alternative music broadcaster, with (an estimated) 100,000 listeners. During the 2005 general election campaign, the station's news and editorial director Noelle McCarthy conducted an interview in which National Party leader Don Brash admitted that he had forewarning of a controversial leaflet campaign conducted by the Exclusive Brethren sect. Breakfast show hosts regularly interview New Zealand political figures. The centrepiece of the news operation is The Wire, a music and current affairs show that airs every weekday from noon to 1pm with Jon Armistead, Talia Blewitt, Imogen Barrer, Lucas Jensen-Carey and news director Will Pollard.

Alongside the flagship bFM Breakfast, Morning Glory, The Wire, Afternoon and Drive slots are specialist programmes like Rhythm Selection, Freak the Sheep, the bFM Top 100, Bloody Sunday Drive and a Sunday "best of" show. Daily "bCasts" (a stored mp3 audio file) are available on the station's website along with a full schedule of DJs/shows. The website was finalist at the 2006 South by South West Web awards. Its award-winning creative department creates most of its own broadcast advertising, rather than using supplied agency material, as most commercial radio does.


Former breakfast host Mikey Havoc

Founded in 1969 as a capping stunt, bFM was a pirate student radio station, broadcast from a boat - which ran aground in Auckland's Waitemata Harbour - and played illegally on speakers around the University. The iconic ‘b’ originally stood for "bosom".[3] The station was originally run as an AUSA club but by the mid-1980s had seven staff (paid a nominal wage) and 100+ volunteers. All staff were voted into their position by collective vote - the collective being the staff and volunteers of the station at the time, with the appointments ratified by the AUSA.

The AUSA formed Campus Radio BFM Limited in 1989 and required the station to run at break-even after it had run up significant losses in previous years. That was not popular with many staff and volunteers, some of whom resigned when new station manager Simon Laan took over and started implementing changes recommended in a report titled "Saving BFM" by Kerr Inkson and Kelly Grove Hill (from the Auckland University School of Business). Their report had been commissioned by previous station manager Jude Anaru. Laan was the last station manager to be elected to that position, after he lobbied the Board to change its appointment processes and dispense with the voting system.

It transferred permanently from the AM to FM band (originally to 91.8FM, now the frequency of More FM) in the late 1980s, after a long legal application process (opposed by all other commercial radio stations operating in Auckland) begun in 1984 by station manager Debbi Gibbs, daughter of prominent New Zealand businessman Alan Gibbs, and completed by her successor Jude Anaru in 1988.

The station initially broadcast on the FM band by applying only for a temporary short term broadcasting warrant, and then applying for another one when that one expired. This upset commercial radio stations who were also trying to make the switch from AM to FM, but were delayed by the New Zealand Government who were slowly auctioning off commercial frequencies to commercial broadcasters. By 'drip feeding' commercial frequencies onto the market the Government found it could maximise auction prices. In holding a Schedule 7 (educational purposes) semi-commercial licence, bFM did not have to pay for its frequency.[4]

During the 1980s the station changed its name from Radio B to Campus Radio (1404 AM), then back to Radio B, and then finally bFM. Its hours expanded and it eventually became a 24-hour station operating on a permanent warrant in 1989. Most show hosts are volunteers. The distinctive 95bFM 'b' logo was designed by Johnnie Pain, commissioned by then station manager Liz Tan to design it. The previous logo had been chosen through a vote by station staff and volunteers from a selection of entries in a public logo competition run by previous station manager Simon Laan.


Former staff include Mark "Slave" Williams, Otis Frizzell, Simon Grigg, and former MediaWorks New Zealand chief executive and radio host Brent Impey. DJ Sirvere (Philip Bell) and DJ Sicoff (Simon Coffey) made some of their first public appearances on bFM. Radio Hauraki hosts Jeremy Wells, Matt Heath and Mikey Havoc began their radio careers on bFM Breakfast, while Nick Dwyer has hosted a breakfast show on George FM and Charlotte Ryan now hosts the drive programme on Kiwi FM. Rhys Darby and David Farrier hosted a programme on the station from 2010 to 2012, a partnership they continued with Netflix series Short Poppies.[5]

Russell Brown, Noelle McCarthy and Wallace Chapman have gone on from roles with bFM to careers with Radio New Zealand, TVNZ and other media outlets. RadioLive personalities Marcus Lush, Graeme Hill and Chris Forster and Newstalk ZB presenters and producers Andrew Topping, Andrew Dickens and Tania McKenzie-Cook all honed their skills with bFM. Other former alumni include 3 News journalists Rebecca Wright and Kim Choe, ABC journalists Robert Herrick and Charlotte Glennie and print journalists Hannah Sarney, Hugh Sundae and Paul Casserly.

Contact FM[edit]

Contact FM is a student radio station operating from the University of Waikato in Hamilton. It broadcasts on the 88.1 MHz FM frequency, having previously broadcast on 106 MHz, 89.0 MHz and 1440 kHz. The original Contact FM, owned by the Waikato Students Union, was broadcast on 89.0 MHz from 1985 to 1998. During a period of voluntary student unionism, the WSU subleased the frequency to private ownership, along with selling Contact FM's equipment. Specialist shows have included the Prognosis Show, a progressive rock show hosted by Richard Stockwell on Saturday nights from 1996 to 1997. The show also included space music, krautrock, psychedelic music, electronic music and experimental Music.

The Independent Broadcasting Community relaunched Contact on a low-power frequency 106 MHz, before settling with its current frequency of 88.1 MHz.[6][7] The station celebrated its 30th birthday in October 2009.[8] The current Management Committee of the Independent Broadcasting Community (Hamilton) Incorporated, who run Contact FM, is chairperson Nick Johnston, treasurer Daniel Farrell, secretary Lauren Kerr Bell, and officers Ayman Aneece, Shane Griffin and Luke Jacobs.[9]

Contact hosts many local Hamilton music events. Since 2008, is has run annual Hamilton music festival Hamilton Circle Jerk. The event features 15 Hamilton bands performing 3 song sets, two songs by other Hamilton musicians as well as an original.[10] The festival had previously struggled to attract sponsorship, in part due to being controversially named after the mutual masturbatory act.[11] Local student radio station Contact FM has been running the event since 2008.

Radio Control 99.4FM[edit]

Radio Control is a student radio station based in Palmerston North, New Zealand. Broadcasting on 99.4 FM across the city and streaming worldwide from the picturesque Turitea campus of Massey University, Radio Control is owned by the Massey University Student Association and transmits from an aerial atop one of the university's multi-storey buildings.

The station was founded in 1981 as 'Masskeradio', and was for a significant period of time also called 'Radio Massey'. A notable figure in the history of Radio Control is the station mascot, Gordon the Dinosaur. The mascot embarked on a number of ventures, including his candidacy in the Palmerston North electorate. Gordon's sole election policy was the construction of a moving walkway from the city centre to the university campus.

The station currently has a handful of paid staff and in excess of 50 volunteers, who all contribute time and expertise to the continued running of the station. In addition to the general interest shows airing between 7AM and 7PM on weekdays, there are multiple specialist shows. These include a show dedicated to local music, a show focused solely in music found by searching on the internet, and other shows serving many other interest groups. Radio Control has strong support from both NZ on Air as well as Massey University

Several of the hosts and shows on Radio Control have been associated with the station for many years. Radio Control also regularly hosts live events and broadcasts from various events both on and off the Massey University campus. They have also been instrumental in the emergence of popular New Zealand artists such as Benny Tipene, Avalanche City and Evermore.

Radio Active[edit]

Radio Active is an alternative radio station broadcasting in Wellington, New Zealand on 88.6FM (formerly 89 FM) as well as streaming online at It began as the student radio station for Victoria University of Wellington Students' Association (VUWSA) in 1977, broadcasting on the AM frequency. In 1981 it became the first radio station in New Zealand to commence broadcast on the newly available FM frequency[citation needed]. In August 1992 VUWSA decided that Radio Active could not make any more losses, and sold the station to radioactive ltd in the hope that the station could become financially viable. Radio Active commenced online broadcasting in 1997, being one of the first radio stations in New Zealand to do so.

Today has a very strong presence and following throughout the capital. It has a very strong listenership of around 45,000 weekly[citation needed] plus a huge online audience via its website. With a highly talented pool of volunteer announcers, many of whom have been with the station for over fifteen years, Radio Active is renowned for the wide variety of interesting music that it plays.


RDU 98.5FM is a student radio station operating from the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. It broadcasts on a frequency of 98.5 MHz and (since late 2006) through online streaming, but began on 23 February 1976 on 1413kHz, which is now occupied by Radio Ferrymead.[12] In the early 1980s it was known as "Radio U". in 1986 the station converted to FM and changed its name to Radio UFM. Long running shows include Girl School,[13] The Mixtape Sessions,[14] The Joint,[15] Guitar Media,[16] Dollar Mix, Hauswerk and Vintage Cuts.

Wammo and Spanky became an infamous duo on the RDU Mornings show, most notably coaxing Don Brash into answering inappropriate love letters live on-air, and upsetting listeners by playing distasteful games poking fun at cancer victims. Wammo was scouted by Kiwi FM and was replaced by Kate Gorgeous, who hosted the show for a year until the end of 2007. After a long search for a new host, Spanky has returned to host the show solo under the new show title Breakfast with Spanky.

In 2007, the University of Canterbury Students' Association controversially agreed to sub-licence the RDU frequency to a newly formed company, RDU98.5FM Ltd and students against the sale selectively leaked information to The Press stating the station was sold for the price of $1. Actually the stations assets including broadcast equipment and transmitters were sold at market (book) value, a market level rental agreed for the space occupied and an annual licence fee agreed. Various arrangements were debated over the preceding three years following the previous limited liability company (controlled by minority shareholders) trading insolvently which forced UCSA to inject funds and restructure the organisation. After the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, the radio station lost its base at the University of Canterbury and for the next three years, it broadcast from a modified horse truck.[12]

Radio One[edit]

Radio One, or The One, is a student radio station operating from the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand. It broadcasts on a frequency of 91.0 MHz. The station is run largely by volunteer announcers, with a small paid staff. It runs a wide variety of general interest and specialist shows to audiences not catered for by other Dunedin radio stations, such as New Zealand music show The Local and cannabis law reform radio show Overgrown. It is run by Planet Media on behalf of Otago University Students' Association.

In the station's early years, Radio One was broadcast from a 100-watt ERP transmitter atop the 11-storey Hocken Building (now Richardson Building) - then the tallest building on the university campus. In the late 1980s, the station moved their transmitter to Dunedin's main FM radio transmitter atop Mount Cargill, north of the campus. This gives the station a range which covers much of coastal Otago, from Oamaru to past Balclutha. Radio One can now be heard anywhere in the world as it streams all content in 128 kbit/s stereo mp3 over the Internet.


The impetus for the station began with an open letter to the President of the Otago University Students' Association (then Phyllis Comerford) from Alastair Thomson, who had worked on the Waikato University student radio station. This letter brought together other interested parties including members of the bands Netherworld Dancing Toys and The Verlaines. With a grant from the OUSA of approximately $12,000, the station first went to air in early 1984 broadcasting from the OUSA's former boardroom.

The station ran on a part-time basis during the university year until the mid-1990s, from which time it has been operating round-the-clock throughout the year in a new annex to the Student Union building which was specifically designed to house the station, the OUSA's offices, and the university's student newspaper Critic. The station celebrated its 25th birthday at the beginning of 2009.[17]

Radio One alumni include Shayne Carter, Wallace Chapman, Charlotte Glennie, Samantha Hayes, Jan Hellriegel, Lesley Paris, David Pine, Brent Hodge, Sean Norling, Chris Armstrong and Ria Vandervis. Aaron Hawkins served as Radio One's breakfast host from 2006 to 2013 and music director from 2011 to 2013 before standing for the Dunedin mayoralty and being elected a Dunedin City central ward councillor. [18][19]


FM frequencies[edit]

Weird Culture, Weird Custom music compilation[edit]

In 1986 the Weird Culture, Weird Custom compilation was released with twelve tracks on the album, two chosen by competition by each of the six member stations.[20] Artists included Jean-Paul Sartre Experience, Putty in Her Hands, and Cassandra’s Ears. It was distributed by Jayrem Records.[21][22]

Freak The Sheep Vol. 2 was another similar compilation album released by Flying Nun Records in 1992.


  1. ^ "Cultural industries". New Zealand Government. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  2. ^ a b "Student radio". NZ Musician. Retrieved 7 October 2014. 
  3. ^ "About 95bFM". 95bFM. Retrieved 23 October 2012. 
  4. ^ Old Radio Archives
  5. ^ p Rhys Darby & David Farrier now on bFM!
  6. ^ Neems, Jeff (8 August 2010). "Contact FM wants frequency back". Waikato Times. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  7. ^ Contact FM website
  8. ^ Swainson, Richard (6 October 2009). "Press Release for Contact FM's 30th Birthday". Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  9. ^ "IBC Committee". 12 November 2012. Retrieved 12 November 2012. 
  10. ^ "6th Annual Hamilton Circle Jerk". 5 May 2010. Retrieved 2010-11-15. 
  11. ^ "Hamilton hosts its 6th annual Circle Jerk gig". 3 News. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 15 September 2010. 
  12. ^ a b Anderson, Vicki (19 March 2016). "RDU celebrates 40th with five month party at Canterbury Museum". The Press. pp. C1–C2. Retrieved 2 July 2016. 
  13. ^ Girl School
  14. ^ The Mixtape Sessions
  15. ^ The Joint
  16. ^ Guitar Media
  17. ^ Dignan, J. (19 February 2009). "Pilots of the airwaves still". Otago Daily Times. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 2009-03-17. 
  18. ^ "Aaron Hawkins". Daily Blog. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  19. ^ "Councillor Aaron Hawkins". Dunedin City Council. Retrieved 14 October 2014. 
  20. ^ "Various Artists - Weird Culture, Weird Custom. New Zealand National Student Radio 1986". Kiwi Tapes blog. October 15, 2007. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  21. ^ Slevin, Dan. "Vinyl Vault – "NZ Music"". Funerals & Snakes. Retrieved April 24, 2015. 
  22. ^ Various – Weird Culture Weird Custom at Discogs

External links[edit]