Hello, I’m David Ricquish in the Wellington studios of Radio New Zealand International and today we continue our look at the changing Pacific… and in particular at how it’s becoming increasingly more urbanized… and how today’s radio is much less laid back than you might imagine.
According to some experts, the population of the Pacific island countries will grow to reach 15 million by 2035, and this could mean that some 190 thousand people are added every year… which is like adding a complete Samoa every 52 weeks.
That’s a scary thought, and when you next look at a travel brochure from the islands, its worth thinking about how many tropical beaches could get swallowed up in the next 20 years… and it also means that some existing urban centers will grow really large on relatively small islands.
Let’s take the French territory of New Caledonia as an example. It’s got one of the larger islands around the Pacific, with Grande Terre, but already two-thirds of the total population can be found living in the capital zone of Noumea… and that’s about 165 thousand people.
For many years, radio enthusiasts around the world have been familiar with what used to be FR3 or RFO or Radio Nouvelle Caledonie, perhaps on shortwave, or more recently because the 20 kilowatt AM station now on 666 kilohertz can often be heard over long distances.
It might have sounded exotic, but even when I first visited Noumea in the mid 1980’s, there was a motorway system connecting the city with the airport some 50 kilometres away, and today the city has grown much larger, and peak hour traffic jams are common.
Today, we’ll join our friends in Noumea for a typical French breakfast of fresh baguettes, coffee, some fresh fruits and some morning DJs who help this French style city in the South Pacific greet the day. Again, I’ll be checking out their websites to see how user friendly they are.
What used to be Radio Nouvelle Calédonie is now called Nouvelle Calédonie premiere, part of an overseas regional network owned by the French state, and they’re found at nouvellecaledonie.la1ere.fr
This is part of a confusing global website that contains some 4 or 5 streaming TV services, separate regional radio and TV services from territories all over the world, and finding which bits apply just to New Caledonia is a challenge.
Yes, there are purely local programs from Noumea and the audio streaming service is of good quality, but the emphasis is on TV programs, video clips, and links for newsletters, Le Club and, thank goodness, a Facebook page with over 5000 likes where you can start to focus on the local personalities, music and shows just for Noumea.
I can let you into a secret, at this website, you’ll also find links directly to the local radio services for Tahiti and French Polynesia, and even tiny Wallis et Futuna to the north of Samoa. All these local radio services are streaming live 24/7 as well, so if you can’t hear Papeete on 738 AM it’s cheaper than an air ticket there.
Our breakfast listeners in Noumea can also hear Radio O direct from Paris via a local FM station and at www.radioo.fr and these are all programs from the metropol supplied by the state broadcaster.
You’ll hear French national news, information, debates, music and documentaries from all over France, and homesick French can hear le meteo for snowstorms in Paris as they enjoy a tropical breakfast looking over the large yachting and boating marinas that almost encircle the city.
At Oceane FM 95, Gege is hosting the breakfast show from 6-9am, to be followed by Vivi, then Safia and Clovis as the day wears on, and you can enjoy their bright format at www.oceanefm.nc.
This is a good website, well laid out, and easy to navigate, and if French is a problem Chrome translator turns it into passable English. You’ll find information about all of the DJs I mentioned earlier, podcasts, a newsletter, and good Facebook site as well.
You’ll also find a very attractive coverage map you can download and frame, plus if you choose the time of day right, you’ll hear zouk, afrika, reggae and pacific music…
There are actually only six radio stations to serve our breakfasting audience in Noumea, because the local authorities have resisted numerous attempts to start up new stations, or allow local community stations as you’ll find throughout French Polynesia. It’s all rather sad, but that’s local politics for you.
One of these few is RRB, or Radio Rhythme Bleu, which started broadcasting in 1985 and strongly supports New Caledonia remaining part of France.
You’ll find them at www.rrb.nc and they have another good website, whilst their music is a mixture of popular English and French songs, and their morning host is Robert Canal who takes us from 5-8am, followed for two hours by Bruno Penati. News and current affairs comes direct from the Europe 1 network in Paris.
On the website, you’ll find many podcasts, archived shows, and like all the private stations, an excellent program guide. On a typical morning, Robert will bring us local notices, job offers and requests, birthday calls, obituaries, the weather, horoscopes, highlights from Canal+ TV programs for the day, lost and found pets…
In the evening, is the show SMS with Anthony, and this is a very popular way of requesting songs with listeners in Noumea and right across the entire territory where RRB can also be heard on a wide FM network.
Yes, you’ll also find a great coverage map of RRB as well, this one even detailing exactly where each FM frequency can be heard, and also worth downloading as a souvenir.
Noumea is often described as part of the south of France that got dropped into the South Pacific, and the lifestyle certainly has the sunshine, warmth, outdoor cafes, tropical gardens, chic boutiques and a wide range of luxury and high priced stores, modern apartment blocks, noisy motorbikes, and crowded city streets.
There are also quiet quarters where old colonial houses stand behind high walls, patisseries are served with courtesy, and where a game of boules can be found, along with the trappings of French bureaucracy and gendarmes everywhere.
And the languages heard include Vietnamese, Chinese, Wallis and Kanak as Noumea has attracted workers and migrants from elsewhere.
At radiodjiido.nc [d-jedo] you’ll find Kanal K and the independence flag of the local Kanak people and their indigenous station Radio Djiido.
This station emerged out of the troubles of the 1980’s, and has survived its towers being cut down, its offices and studios being firebombed and its staff attacked and beaten by pro-French sympathizers.
Today it has an extensive FM network across the territory and a fairly basic website, but one with good streaming to enjoy their world and local music programs. It also has an extensive program grid, and yet again, a wonderful coverage map that really is worth downloading, printing and framing.
There is no Facebook link, but it encourages SMS music requests, and for their 6-9am breakfast show, you’ll hear local music, weather, job notices and requests and local news.
Finally today, the local outlet of French channel NRJ is at www.nrj.nc and this is a very popular hit music station, with many English language songs, and over 7000 fans on their Facebook page.
Their breakfast show from 6-9am is hosted by JB, followed by Dominique and Vicki and you’ll find background info on these and other personalities, along with their programs, which are always promoted as being fun and full of life.
Heavy promotions feature competition winners of prizes such as ipads and holidays to Vanuatu, music shows such as Burnin Faya at the Ramada Plaza, and their contact page has no colorful map, but does have a Google Earth view showing exactly where their studios are in central Noumea.
Like all the other stations in New Caledonia, NRJ encourages listeners to connect via SMS text messages, and their online streaming is of high quality.
So that’s breakfast radio in Noumea, and the soundtrack in the Citroen, Renault and Peugeot cars around the rues, boulevards and autoroutes of this growing city of 165 thousand in the French South Pacific.
Although the choice remains limited, it’s improved since Charles Gaveau opened his Radio Noumea on shortwave for 90 minutes every night from Tuesday to Saturday in the 1930’s. In those days, Charles entertained Noumea with news, cabaret and local advertising, so some things really haven’t changed that much.
This original feature was researched for the Radio Heritage Foundation and broadcast in mid 2012 on the Mailbox program of Radio New Zealand International:
For our free guide to current AM and FM radio stations broadcasting in New Caledonia, please use our Pacific Islands Radio Guide:
For a directory of shortwave, FM and AM radio stations broadcasting in New Caledonia and other Pacific countries, we highly recommend the World Radio TV Handbook published annually since the late 1940s. The Radio Heritage Foundation is official WRTH country contributor for New Caledonia: