Aotea FM – Sounds of Sanctuary

Aotea Community Radio Trust runs the only radio station on Great Barrier Island, New Zealand (writes Annabel Martin). More than 60 per cent of the island, which lies about 90km off the Auckland coast, is protected by the country’s Department of Conservation and its natural beauty has not gone unnoticed. In 2017 it became the first island in the world to achieve International Dark Sky Sanctuary status. Aotea FM serves its community of fewer than 1,200 people by providing them with music, news and tsunami warnings. Station manager Lynda Moran tells us more.

How did the station come about?

The Aotea Community Radio Trust had its first meeting in November 2004. The station is “run by the sun” with a little help from the wind and a lot of help from the many volunteers working both behind the scenes and in front of the mic. By August 2005 it was a registered charitable trust and the dream of having an island-based radio station, run by islanders, appeared to be within reach. In December 2009, Aotea FM, broadcasting on the frequency 94.6FM, hit the airwaves and became our community station. We are now largely funded by lotteries and the Auckland council.

How did you become involved with the station?

I was first employed as its treasurer and subsequently became a DJ. I became the station manager 18 months ago, so now I’m doing all of the above.

Could you share some memorable broadcasting moments?

Once we had to get a tsunami alert on air. Everyone was tearing past me on the road and I was driving to the studio to tell people, “Get to higher ground now!” I was a bit worried in case the tsunami approached while I was there but I had approval from the emergency response team to do it. We stayed on higher ground for about four hours. After that we decided that we should have a warning on the desktop so that we can sound it remotely.

What events will you be covering in the near future?

We always look forward to the island’s Aotea Live festival for local musicians every October.

What other stations do you enjoy listening to?

I don’t listen to any others as Great Barrier Island is so remote that you can’t get any others.

What local spots do you and your colleagues enjoy hanging out at?

As we only have 1,200 people on the island, there aren’t many places to hang out! The Currach Irish Pub is great and so are My Fat Puku and Pa Beach Café.

© MONOCLE Weekend Edition April 9, 2022

This material remains © MONOCLE and is only to be used for non-commercial personal or research use. Any other use requires permission of the copyright holder.

Check out Aotea FM and other New Zealand stations in our NZ Radio Guide:

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