Rhema Media

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Rhema Media
Industry Broadcasting
Predecessor Banbury Recordings International, Rhema Broadcasting Group
Founded Christchurch, New Zealand (1976 (1976))
Headquarters Auckland, New Zealand
Area served
New Zealand
Key people
Mike Brewer, CEO
Services 1978
Website rhemamedia.co.nz

Rhema Media (previously known as Rhema Broadcasting Group or RBG) is a Christian media organisation in New Zealand. It owns radio networks Rhema, Life FM and Star, and television station Shine TV. It also publishes Bob Gass's quarterly devotional publication The Word For You Today, and a youth version called Word For You Today. Rhema Media is based in Newton, Auckland and is the founding organisation of United Christian Broadcasters (UCB).[1]

Rhema Media was set up in the 1960s by Christchurch evangelical Richard Berry, following the success of Ecudorian Christian short-wave radio station HCJB. The company's network Rhema began full-time broadcasting in 1978 and Life FM and Star were launched in 1997. Shine TV was launched in 2002, and The Word radio network operated between 2007 and 2015.[2]

History[edit]

1960s-1978[edit]

Rhema Media began in the 1960s as Gospel Radio Fellowship, a small group of evangelical Christians who wanted to set up a radio station in Christchurch. The New Zealand Government legalised private radio, after illegal pirate broadcasts by Radio Hauraki in the Hauraki Gulf. The fellowship set up a radio studio and transmitter in an old church building and applied to the Broadcasting Authority for permission to broadcast in 1972. However, the authority was skeptical about the need for an evangelical radio station,[3] and declined the station's application based on a lack of public interest, finance and professional staff.[4]

Gospel Radio Fellowship changed its name to Radio Rhema in 1974, and raised enough money to employ twenty staff. It received a one-day license for Christchurch in November 1974, a one-day license for Petone in October 1975, and a 10-day Christmas license for Christchurch in 1976.[4] The broadcasts had to be live, medium wave, no more than 100 watts, and only directed at supporters.[3] The station published newsletters for its Christchurch and Wellington listeners,[5][6][7] and launched a monthly publication, Frequency, in 1977.[8]

Radio Rhema gained a permanent licence in 1978 after about 55,000 people pledged their support to the station. It was officially launched in November 1978 by prime minister Rob Muldoon, who said the station promoted "a faith that moves mountains".[4] The station was allowed to broadcast six hours a day on weekdays and 18 hours a day on weekends, making it the first permanent Christian station in the British Commonwealth and one of the first Christian broadcasters in the world.[3]

1978-1997[edit]

In 1980 the station was allowed to broadcast 18 hours every day, and had thirty five full-time and ten part-time workers. In 1982 it gained a license in Wellington. and purchased a property in Auckland where it employed six staff.[4] In 1986 it began broadcasting in Auckland and attracted a niche following.[9][10] and in 1989 it received approval to begin broadcasting in Dunedin.[11][12]

Radio Rhema was one of the largest private radio networks in the country by the late 1980s.[13] According to radio reviews in the New Zealand Listener, its programming included evangelical programmes,[14][15] Biblical teachings,[16] and politically conservative talkback.[17][18] Sociologists Sue Middleton and Allanah Ryan argued the expansion of Radio Rhema was evidence of the growth of the Christian right.[19]

In 1987, vice-presidents Richard Berry, Hal Short and Frank Salisbury also set up a separate organisation, United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) to support similar stations in other countries. The organisation's Australian branch supported Christian radio stations, many called Radio Rhema, before it set up its own broadcaster, the Vision Radio Network. Other affiliates followed in the United Kingdom, Europe, Africa, Pacific countries and South America. The Dove was set up as an affiliate in Oregon, United States. Smaller broadcasters were also established in Madagascar, Brazil, the Philippines and Estonia.[20] In 1994, UCB was granted the right to publish The Word For Today, a quarterly catalogue of daily Biblical teachings by American preacher Bob Gass, in the United Kingdom. After an initial trial, Gass granted UCB the rights to broadcast, publish and distribute the devotional anywhere outside the United States free of charge.[3]

The Christchurch Radio Rhema building was sold to NZI for $5 million in 1995.[21]

1997-2002[edit]

The Radio Rhema company changed its name to Rhema Broadcasting Group in 1997, when it launched sister networks Life FM and Star. It used frequencies secured in 1991, swapped frequencies with The Radio Network, and leased some frequencies from other companies.[4] Star lost its frequencies in Auckland and Christchurch in 1998, but was able to continue broadcasting in both centres by leasing airtime from the AM Network outside of the sitting hours of the New Zealand Parliament.[22] Rhema celebrated 20 years on air with a function in Christchurch in 1998.[23]

Rhema Broadcasting Group took over the operation of local Christchurch television channel Freedom TV in 2002, relaunching it as Shine TV in December 2002.[24] It began broadcasting on Sky TV from its launch, and later expanded to UHF in Nelson and Freeview in Christchurch.[25] United Christian Broadcasters previously owned a network UHF station licences, but sold them to Prime TV.[26]

2002-2012[edit]

The fifth Labour government put forward plans to renew radio frequencies in 2003, but Rhema Broadcasting Group and the Crown did not agree on the value of re-licensing until 2006. In July 2010, RBG announced it needed to raise $6.4 million over and above its normal operating costs to renew its commercial radio frequencies for the following 20 years.[27] By the end of November, the company still needed $2.4 million and was not in a position to seek external finance,[28] with the frequencies to be returned to the Crown and resold at auction if the money was not raised.[2] The Crown recognised the organisation as a non-profit with limited access to funds and gave it a three-month extension on payment,[29] allowing Rhema Broadcasting Group to cover the cost with no interest loans.[30]

In 2007, Rhema Broadcasting Group launched The Word, a network of relay stations broadcasting uninterrupted, automated Bible readings.[31][32] The station was similar to a digital station UCB was already operating in the UK.[33] The network's original Hamilton 576 AM and Invercargill 1026 AM frequencies were acquired for Star, but became available when Star starting broadcasting on new AM Network stations in both cities.[34][35] The Word was later extended to New Plymouth 1278 AM, Christchurch 540 AM, Dunedin 1377 AM, Te Anau 88.0 FM, and an independently-owned low-power FM station in Tokoroa.[36] The station was also streamed over the Internet.[37]

By 2011, UCB consisted of 32 organisations which claimed to reach millions of people in at least 24 different languages through radio, television, printed devotionals and websites. The group was publishing several million copies of The Word for Today were published every quarter, in about a dozen languages.[3]

2012-now[edit]

In December 2012, chief executive John Fabrin left the organisation and Mike Brewer, former general manager of Fairfax New Zealand's Taranaki Newspapers company, became chief executive.[38]

Shine TV ceased broadcasting on UHF in Christchurch and Nelson on 28 April 2013, when South Island analogue television was switched off.[25] RBG was rebranded as Rhema Media in February 2014.[39] Short, UCB's president, stepped aside from RBG and UCB in March 2013.[20] The Word closed down in the first half of 2015.[40]

Services[edit]

Rhema[edit]

This is a map of Rhema frequencies.

Rhema (formerly known as Radio Rhema and New Zealand's Rhema) is an evangelical Christian contemporary music radio network targeted towards families.[1] It broadcasts a range of music, current affairs interviews, conversations, teaching programmes and on-air charity fundraisers, with a focus on relationships, marriage and parenting.[41]

The network's programmes include entertainment programme Rhema Breakfast with George Penk and Andrew Urquhart, discussion programme Rhema Mornings with John Peachey, magazine show Rhema Afternoons with Diane Campbell,Rhema Drive with former Life FM and UCB UK host Luke Weston, and Rhema Nights with Rosemary Jane.[41] The network also broadcasts teaching programmes from Joyce Meyer, Focus on the Family and Adventures in Odyssey. The Great Big Kids Show with Suzy Cato is broadcast every Sunday morning.[42] Some hosts also work as counselors, church pastors, stand-up comedians and MCs.[43] Hosts have also endorsed events.[44] Previous hosts include Bob McCoskrie, Rob Holding, Tim Sisarich and Pat Brittenden.[45]

Life FM[edit]

This is a map of Life FM frequencies.

Life FM is a contemporary Christian music evangelical youth-oriented radio network.[46] According to Colmar Brunton research commissioned by Rhema Media in 2010, listeners credit the station with helping them make positive life choices.[2] The station's programmes include The Morning Wake Up with Bjorn Brickell and Josh Coombridge, Days with Josh Coombridge, Afternoons with Dan Goodwin, and Nights with Sherryn Collins. New Zealand music show Homegrown with Jon E Clist is broadcast on Life FM on Friday nights and repeated on Rhema on Saturday nights; talkback programme The Forum with George Penk is simulcast on Life FM and Rhema on Sunday nights.[47]

Life FM started broadcasting at 2.00pm on 6 March 1993 on 99.3 FM in Christchurch with U2's In The Name Of Love.[48] Early hosts included Mark Peterson, Jason Keiller and Murray Dennett.[49] The frequency was leased from More FM, and the station was shut down on Friday, 11 July 1997 when the lease expired.[46] Life FM was restarted in Auckland, Waikato and the Bay of Plenty the following month as a dedicated Christian music network.[46] Since then hosts have included Clinton Randell, Holly Wiseman, Diane Campbell, Ken Green, Mike OB, Elmo Johnstone, Luke Weston, Paul Burnett, Becci Johnstone, Frank Richie, Tom Francis, and Jason Strong.[50]

The network draws 75% of its operating costs from listener donations, and uses an annual fundraising appeal event to cover most of those costs. The 2011 fundraising appeal, which occurred just two weeks after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, was used to raise funds for church-led disaster relief.[51]

Star[edit]

This is a map of Star frequencies.

Star (known as Southern Star until 2015) plays contemporary Christian music, hymns and Biblical teachings. It is owned and operated by Rhema Media. Rhema Media describes it as "a smooth and easy blend of music from people you know and trust", including modern hymns, easy listening tracks and instrumentals.[22] Star broadcasts on the AM Network outside the sitting hours of the New Zealand Parliament[52]

The station's programmes include Breakfast with Cathy Jenke, Mornings with Peter Shaw, Afternoons with Dudley Scantlebury, Drive with Aaron Ironside, Nights with Ross Browne and Overnights with Rosemary Jane.[52] Previous hosts include Rachel Thomas, Brian Ferguson, Glen Stephenson, UCB staff James Totton, Katikati His FM manager Rob Holding, Andrew Urquhart and Diane Campbell. Contributors include landscape designer and gardening expert Debbie Olsen, who previously hosted a gardening show on sister station Rhema.[53]

Shine TV[edit]

Shine TV station broadcasts on Freeview Channel 25 and Sky TV channel 201, and features locally made and overseas news and current affairs, documentaries, movies, children's programmes, teaching programmes, and youth and music programmes.[25] Some of Shine's programmes cover the international work of Christian missions, while others include personal testimony.[54]

The Word for Today[edit]

Main article: The Word For Today

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.[55] An initial print run of 3,500 copies was made in April 1994 in the United Kingdom before it was expanded to New Zealand in 1997.[55] An estimated 3.5 million copies are distributed quarterly worldwide, with country-specific and translated versions also produced in Albania, Australia, Canada, Czechoslovakia, Caribbean, the Netherlands, Estonia, Portugal, Philippines, Nigeria, South Africa, Spain and the USA.[55]

In conjunction with The Message Trust, a Christian youth ministry based in Manchester, The Word For Today has been adapted for younger audiences with Word For You Today. The devotional began in August 2003, and has been printed in New Zealand since February 2010. An audio version is also broadcast on Life fm.[55]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Rhema History". rhemamedia.co.nz. Rhema Media. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c Bennik, Nicole (24 September 2010). "Christian radio praying for a money miracle". Whitireia New Zealand. Newswire. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Atkinson, Perry (30 August 2011). "The United Christian Broadcasters Story - Hal Short - theDove.us" (Video interview). YouTube. Medford, Oregon: theDove. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d e Wooding, Dan (1 January 2003). Never Say Never: The Story of the Rhema Broadcasting Group: A Modern-Day Miracle. Auckland, New Zealand: Rhema Broadcasting Group. ISBN 0473099845. 
  5. ^ "Radio Rhema, the one way sound, official newsletter" (56). Radio Rhema. 1974. 
  6. ^ "Wellington Branch newsletter". Radio Rhema. June 1975. 
  7. ^ "Radio Rhema newsletter, about 1975" (Historical artefact). Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Alexander Turnball Library. 
  8. ^ "Frequency" (1). Radio Rhema. December 1977. 
  9. ^ Graves, Joanne (September 1986). "Tuning in to the lord" (63). Auckland Metro. p. 198. 
  10. ^ McLauchlan, Mark (February 1992). "The age of narrowcasting : why the song remains the same" (128). Auckland Metro. pp. 84–82. 
  11. ^ "Radio station plans aerial base". Taieri Herald. 24 January 1989. p. 3. 
  12. ^ "Radio Rhema making waves". Taieri Herald. 7 March 1989. 
  13. ^ Riley, Brett (28 March 1987). "RADIO REVIEW : Shares like shuttlecocks" (117). New Zealand Listener. p. 83. 
  14. ^ Mountjoy, Lora (18 April 1987). "Radio review : On the outlook for converts" (123). New Zealand Listener. p. 82. 
  15. ^ Keith, Sheridan (26 February 1990). "Faith and works" (126). New Zealand Listener. p. 67. 
  16. ^ Hurley, Jane (31 October 1992). "Oh bother" (135). New Zealand Listener. 
  17. ^ Riley, Brett (25 March 1989). "Listen up, sinner" (123). New Zealand Listener. p. 30. 
  18. ^ Riley, Brett (18 July 1992). "Praise be" (134). New Zealand Listener. p. 71. 
  19. ^ Middleton, Sue (1998). The 'moral right', sex education and populist moralism. Wellington: Allen & Unwin. 
  20. ^ a b "Rhema Broadcasting Group Chairman steps down" (Press release). Voxy.co.nz. Rhema Broadcasting Group. 8 March 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "NZI pays $5ml for former Radio Rhema building". Christchurch Press. 15 June 1995. p. 38. 
  22. ^ a b "Southern Star". sstar.co.nz. Rhema Broadcasting Group. Archived from the original on 16 February 2008. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  23. ^ "20 years on air". Christchurch Star. 23 October 1998. p. A4. 
  24. ^ "Shine TV". shinetv.co.nz. Rhema Broadcasting Group. Archived from the original on 26 September 2002. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  25. ^ a b c "Shine TV now free on channel 44". Fairfax New Zealand. Nelson Mail. 24 October 2008. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  26. ^ "Shine TV More Details". shinetv.co.nz. Rhema Broadcasting Group. Archived from the original on 2 October 2002. Retrieved 26 November 2015. 
  27. ^ Wooding, Dan (2010). "The future of Christian radio in New Zealand is 'at stake'". Identity Network. ASSIST Ministries. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  28. ^ Smith, Blanton (26 November 2010). "Christian radio group seeks $2.4m". Fairfax New Zealand. Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  29. ^ "Extra time to save broadcasting group". infonews.co.nz. Rhema Broadcasting Group. 30 November 2010. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  30. ^ Drinnan, John (11 March 2011). "Media: Radio deal a mockery of free market". New Zealand Media and Entertainment. New Zealand Herald. Retrieved 17 July 2015. 
  31. ^ "The Word". RBG. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  32. ^ "Zondervan". RBG. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  33. ^ "UCB Bible". UCB Media UK. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  34. ^ "Radio Vault Invercargill". Radio Vault. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Radio Vault Hamilton". Radio Vault. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  36. ^ "Low Power FM Radio Stations". Web Wiz Guide. Retrieved October 7, 2014. 
  37. ^ "The Word". Bible Radio. Retrieved September 24, 2014. 
  38. ^ Anthony, John (2 July 2012). "Newspaper boss moving on". Fairfax New Zealand. Taranaki Daily News. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  39. ^ "Rhemia Broadcasting Group rebrand to Rhema Media" (Press release). Voxy.co.nz. Rhema Media. 3 February 2014. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  40. ^ "The World - Bible Radio 24/7". bibleradio.co.nz. Rhema Media. Archived from the original on 8 July 2015. Retrieved 14 December 2015. 
  41. ^ a b "Rhema". rhema.co.nz. Rhema Media. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  42. ^ "TGBKS Stations". tgbks.enter.co.nz. Treehut Limited. Retrieved 3 January 2016. 
  43. ^ "Meet the Team". strength2strength.co.nz. Strength to Strength. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  44. ^ "The Valley of Dry Bones". stuff.co.nz. eventfinda.co.nz. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  45. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine - Radio Rhema". Internet Archive. Rhema Media. Retrieved 22 January 2016.  |archive-url= is malformed: timestamp (help)
  46. ^ a b c "RBG New Zealand". rbg.co.nz. Rhema Media. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 8 July 2015. 
  47. ^ "Shows & DJs". lifefm.co.nz. Rhema Media. Retrieved 21 January 2016. 
  48. ^ "Life Auckland". radio.org.nz. Radio.org.nz. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  49. ^ "Mark Peterson, Jason Keiller, Murray Dennett Life fm Christchurch 1993". SoundCloud. Jason Keiller. Retrieved 17 October 2015. 
  50. ^ "Internet Archive Wayback Machine". Internet Archive. Rhema Media. Retrieved 21 January 2016.  |archive-url= is malformed: timestamp (help)
  51. ^ "Rhema Broadcasting Group fundraises for Christchurch Earthquake". infonews.co.nz. Rhema Broadcasting Group. 8 March 2011. Retrieved 10 July 2015. 
  52. ^ a b "About Southern Star". Sstar.co.nz. Retrieved 2011-01-04. 
  53. ^ "About us". sanctuarygardenslandscaping.co.nz. Sanctuary Gardens. Retrieved 6 July 2015. 
  54. ^ "TV Listings". shinetv.co.nz. Rhema Media. Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  55. ^ a b c d "The Word For Today & Bob Gass". www.ucb.co.uk. Retrieved 2 May 2009. 

External links[edit]