The first B licence issued to a New Zealand broadcaster was to 2ZW Wellington, which began operations on May 20 1931 at 1120 on the AM radio dial.
A group of local businessmen led by Mr R H Nimmo established 2ZW to bring ‘free’ radio [free in that listeners were not paying a licence fee for the stations programs] to Wellington.
They managed to circumvent advertising restrictions by finding sponsors for nearly every program on the station, such as local department store Kirkcaldie & Stains [from whose tea rooms there was a weekly music program], and the Plume Melody Makers who were sponsored by the Vacuum Oil Company.
Within a few years, 2ZW fell silent after compulsory nationalization by the New Zealand government which wanted only state run radio to continue, and it would be some 40 years before a new commercial radio station, Radio Windy, brought back freedom to the airwaves in the capital.
In the meantime, 2ZW has been almost forgotten. We’re delighted to help Wellington celebrate the 80th anniversary of 2ZW The Voice of the Capital City in 2011 and bring back old memories. Radio has been building business in the capital for longer than most people know.
The Nimmos Building on Willis Street in the center of Wellington still stands, and on quiet nights, it’s still possible to imagine hearing the voices, the music and the dreams, of those early radio pioneers to whom we owe so much.
2ZW features in one of the 2011 mini-campaigns for the Kiwi Radio Campaign building awareness and support in Wellington and you’ll also find more about the complete New Zealand radio scene in the very popular feature New Zealand Radio Dial 1931.
If you have any memories or memorabilia about 2ZW Wellington to share we’d love to hear from you.