Radio at the Heads

by Ann van Engelen

Radio personality Mark Perry never realised that his career would turn into a hobby entertaining people across the world from the little township of Mangawhai.

Mark Perry has been in the radio industry for 50 years and based in Te Ārai — he is one of the last independent radio station owners in the country

Mark and his wife Maureen’s solar-powered backup commercial radio stations HeadsFM 106.4 and The WirelessFM 90.4 broadcasts from Te Ārai.

“Being in the coastal zone and as part of the Civil Defence response, we felt it was important to install solar in case of an emergency,” says Mark.

“I started my career at 19 years old and have been in radio for 50 years now. I took over Radio Hauraki from Kevin Black, and I retired from there in 2007.

“Maureen and I built our weekend retreat in Te Ārai in the late 90s and were coming up regularly. When our children left home, I decided to leave the radio thing but found it was like the song, Hotel California — I couldn’t leave.”

Mark started a little station as a hobby just before he retired, and it ran from his rooftop on one watt at the weekends off his iTunes.

“I have always been interested in music and wanted to play the music I want to play like the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin and new pieces. A fully-fledged licence came up, and I managed to secure it and set up Heads FM 106.4, a 25-watt radio station around 2009.

“Local people said they would advertise on it, and that helped me fund it. I find commercial radio is just that, very commercial, and I wanted to play music people know. Now we also have The Wireless 90.4 FM, and both stations have websites that people can listen in on from all around the world.”

The station that started as a hobby has become something the community loves.

“I give free promos for non-profit organisations such as the art gallery, and we have a few local advertisers. I love getting feedback from listeners. They always tell you if you are doing something wrong, but it is lovely when people tell me they love a track or the show.

“The local community call me the radio guy, but I don’t take it for granted as I know they have a choice of
stations to listen to. I am one of the last independent stations not working with a large company. My experience has been writing copy, producing commercials and doing on-air work — not many people have all those skills.

“Radio is not dead. People still want to hear the voice. I get the locals to do their own ads and although they are nervous, like possums in the headlights, it gives things a community feel.

“We keep it simple and appreciate the support we get.”

© The Weekend Lifestyler, July 9, 2021

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

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