Great Barrier Islands' amazing little radio station, Aotea FM, has come a very long way since it's extremely humble beginnings some 10 years ago.
The Aotea Community Radio Trust had their very first meeting in November 2004. The minutes from that meeting make for some interesting reading. Plans were put in place to buy equipment and to set up a studio. Ideas about fundraising and the purchasing of broadcasting and frequency licences were discussed. Although enthusiasm was high, it was apparent that actual hands on experience and practical know-how was limited to a single trust member who had recently been successful in broadcasting a low powered local station from his home.
By August 2005 Aotea Community Radio was a registered charitable trust and the dream of having an island based radio station, run by islanders, for islanders appeared to be not only achievable, but in the not too distant future!
The following 4 years saw a lot of people put in an awful lot of work. Different transmission sites were trialled, equipment was slowly accumulating and buildings were needed. The fundraising efforts were incredible... one sausage sizzle made over $500!
People came... people went. The years ticked by and the dream remained just that...
Until finally, in December 2009 Aotea FM, broadcasting on frequency 94.6, hit the airwaves and became the Barriers' own community radio station.
Run By The Sun
Nowadays, Aotea FM broadcasts island wide on 2 seperate frequencies, 94.6 & 104 in the North and has around 16 different presenters sharing their diverse musical tastes and individual styles with their listeners.
The station is still mainly 'Run By The Sun' with a little help from a wind turbine and occasionally, when all else fails, a portable generator.
The broadcast hours get extended through the Summer period... "After we've installed the new solar panels, we aim to be on air between 7am and 9pm daily" says trust member Lianne Billingham. "The new summer broadcasting hours should kick-in shortly after Labour Weekend."
Recently, Aotea FM took some huge strides in the technology department and began to live-stream their radio transmissions to the 'whole wide world' through the 'world wide web'.
"It's pretty exciting stuff" says current trust chairperson Toni Schaef. "A much larger audience could open up a whole new opportunity for increasing our advertising capabilities. What is really amazing though, is that now we can reach the whole Barrier community, our friends, our families and our supporters wherever they happen to be. They can be travelling the world and still be able to catch-up with what's happening back home... that's awesome!"
And it really is! Thanks Aotea FM! Thanks to all the presenters, the trust members the volunteers, supporters and advertisers.... Aotea FM -You Rock!