NZ On Screen: The Radio Collection

Today Is World Radio Day!

Tuesday, 13 February 2024
Press Release: NZ On Screen

Timed to celebrate World Radio Day, NZ On Screen launches a new collection that highlights the impact, achievements (and some shock-jock antics) of the radio industry in Aotearoa.

Covering the full radio spectrum, The Radio Collection spans 60 years of ‘the wireless’, as showcased on Aotearoa New Zealand screens. Expect plenty of historical content, alongside the behind-the-scenes drama — both real, and imagined.

In the backgrounders, broadcasting luminary Mark Leishman shares his journey through radio — from creating radio shows in a downstairs bedroom with his brother Phillip, through to radio school and hitting the local airwaves. Matt Heath, Back of the Y Masterpiece Television co-creator, and breakfast co-host on Hauraki, explains how the immediacy of radio makes for a rewarding creative outlet (and generates far fewer personal injuries).

For a fictional take, the collection boasts a handful of full-length titles that flesh out the personalities, and expose the imagined lifestyles of those behind the mic. There’s a full series of the award-winning High Road to binge. The comedy-drama follows loveable loser Terry Huffer (Mark Mitchinson), an ex-rocker who DJs at his local radio station based out of a caravan in West Auckland’s Piha. Radio Waves from 1978 delivers a slice of the 70s, complete with on-air egos and big male energy, while the bilingual sitcom Radio Wha Waho follows the personalities at a down-on-its luck rural iwi radio station. Award-winning television drama Talkback, from 1987, imagines what happens when a radio host is thrown in the deep end during a radio shift.

Historical highlights include a look Inside the Bag from 1959. Selwyn Toogood’s landmark radio show It’s in the Bag became such a success, that it would later leap to the small screen and become a televisual icon. We get another taste of the golden age of radio through the short film Signing Off, which captures the lengths a 1960s radio host will go to please a dedicated listener during his final show on the air. 

As television starts to draw away the evening radio audience, music programmes begin to rise in popularity. In 1966, a bunch of broadcasting pirates took the vessel Tiri beyond the 3 Mile Limit, and Radio Hauraki to the airwaves — but not without a lengthy fight for their place on the radio dial. Rock the Boat: The Story of Radio Hauraki 1965 – 1970 recounts that battle to bring rock’n’roll to the youth of New Zealand, while Pirates of the Airwaves recreates events in a docudrama approach. 

Hot on the heels of Hauraki’s pirate antics, regional student radio began to blossom and made the leap from the AM to FM frequency in the mid-80s. Richard Driver fronts a Radio With Pictures story from 1987, which looks at the impact of student radio on listeners and bands alike. 

For background on some of New Zealand’s widely broadcast stations, 1999 documentary Mai FM – It’s Cool to Kōrero goes behind the scenes to discuss the station’s success with rangatahi Māori. The Rate Race captures the early days of Newstalk ZB with Paul Holmes at the breakfast helm, while also providing insight into the cutthroat race for ratings. First Hand – Bedtime Stories profiles late-night Newstalk ZB host Mike Yardley, and introduces callers from his nationwide talkback show. In Weekend – Morning Report, we meet the 1986 team behind Radio New Zealand’s flagship show.

There are plenty more hits to discover in The Radio Collection. Click here for the full list of titles.

NZ On Screen is New Zealand’s screen-culture showcase, with more than 4,500 free-to-view titles from the beginning of the screen industry to the present day. Find us at

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