Celebrating over 75 Years of Popular Kiwi Radio
JAZZ junkies are raving about a local radio station called Groove FM.
They’re listening in the morning before work, during office hours and in the evening to wind down.
Capital Times decided to find out more about 107.7FM and why more people are tuning in.
It began as child ‘s play. Station manager Dean Conland made his first”demo tape” on a reel-to-reel tape recorder at age four, sharing his passion with his less than impressed siblings.
“I used to interview my sisters while they were still trying to sleep in the mornings,” he says.
His enthusiasm for radio did not abate. By the late 1990s Conland found himself in Wellington, following various radio DJ jobs, surprised that nobody was playing jazz-styled music on air.
“And this is considered the jazz capital of New Zealand,” he says.
Armed with his record collection, a transmitter and mixer/CD players Conland set up Groove FM from his spare room in Island Bay.
Four years later Groove FM was re-launched from a new studio on Vivian Street and transmission site(107.7FM) broadcasting to 130,000 people within its coverage area. But Conland says the station has come a long way since its early days.
“When we started off the breakfast announcer used to ride his bike across town to Island Bay to arrive at 6am. I would drag myself out of bed to join him on-air in my dressing gown before heading off to work,” he says.
(Capital Times can confirm Conland wears smart casual attire to work these days – not pyjamas.)
Groove FM’s pulling power, says Conland, is the music they play: acid jazz, swing, blues, funk, soul and classic jazz.
“If you look at CD collections you’ll see Cafe Del Mar and other jazz compilations but on the radio you’d hear Celine Dion or the Spice Girls.”
Conland says the slow rotate/repeat rate of Groove FM ensures listeners are not subjected to the same tracks within a short time period.
“Our most played songs only get played once every 13 hours, on other stations it can be up to once every two and a half hours.”
Groove FM’s playlist dates from the 1930s to the present, with a lot of Wellington music.
As well as classic local artists like April Philips, Conland loves Twinset, Hot Club Sandwich, Roger Fox, Charmaine Ford, Age Pryor, P-Bass Expressway and Rhombus.
“Apart from all the great Kiwi stuff we play, I am guilty of playing the cheesy lounge remakes of rock songs done by Frank Bennet and Richard Cheese. I like the Diana Krall style of jazz and the likes of Air and the Gotan Project,” Conland says.
The young DJ has high hopes for the future of Groove FM.
“The Government has said it wants more diversity in radio and more local content, so fingers crossed,” Conland says.
Originally published in Capital Times, February 22-28 2006.
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Groove 107.7 FM is a micro-broadcaster with a maximum power of 1 watt and heard throughout Wellington. It’s one of the longest running low power FM stations in New Zealand and broadcasts locally using its own studios.
For a full list of LPFM stations in New Zealand, visit the Radio Heritage Foundation’s exclusive New Zealand Radio Guide.