Blue Skies FM – Central community radio goes off air
The Southland Times
Alexandra’s only independently owned radio station is going off air.
Blue Skies FM will have its final broadcast on Tuesday and become RadioWorks’ easy-listening radio station the Breeze from Wednesday.
The move will extend the Breeze’s coverage from Queenstown.
RadioWorks owns the frequency, 96.7FM, covering Central Otago, but had sub-leased it to Blue Skies. This acquisition is an early return of the frequency lease.
Blue Skies managing director Mike Bain declined to comment on why he was closing the station.
He had been managing director of Blue Skies since its inception in December 2001.
Six staff had been made redundant but some were talking to RadioWorks about staying on, he said.
He would be having a champagne breakfast for staff on Tuesday “to celebrate what we’ve achieved: real community radio” .
“I think it’s fair to say all of them here will miss community radio and we believe our closure is the passing of community radio.” Independent radio stations were becoming fewer and fewer in New Zealand, he said.
He had been involved in community radio in Alexandra for 14 years. However, he would be moving from the district.
RadioWorks general manager Fred Thaisen said Blue Skies had approached RadioWorks wanting to get out of the market.
The network bought back the lease, which was not due to expire until 2011.
Blue Skies FM had been a great station with local following, he said.
He did not have official listenership data. “We know their listeners will quickly warm to the Breeze format.” He said the company had employed one sales representative from Blue Skies.
© The Southland Times 25/09/2008.
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