9 Jun 2017

Big River FM turns 20

From Country Life, 9:23 pm on 9 June 2017

On Valentine's Day 1997, Big River FM hit the airwaves in the Northland town of Dargaville. Today, thanks to passionate volunteers, the radio station is stronger than ever.

Vern Woods, Anaru Tana, Phil Godfrey

Vern Woods, Anaru Tana, Phil Godfrey Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray

When Big River FM was launched, the staff and board members [the station is a charitable trust] didn't have a grand strategic plan for survival.

They just knew they wanted to stay in business.

But if the 'how' was missing from the plan, commitment, enthusiasm and sheer determination wasn't.

As a result, on Valentines Day they clocked up 20 years on air.

Thousands of volunteer hours, along with grants, sponsorship and advertisements have kept things rolling.

Current station manager Anaru Tana says it's all about giving all the different sectors of the community a voice.

Vern Woods, a board member and the man responsible for getting the radio licence in the first place agrees - "It's all about dialogue."

He sees Big River as a place to bring new ideas or perspectives for people to think about, just any other media outlet provides.

The station does its own programming and runs for 24 hours a day. Evenings and weekends have specialist programmes hosted by knowledgeable locals.
In the early days, there were times of near insolvency and struggle, times when breakfast morning DJs, despite being schooled up to reign in their opinions, got carried away with their own brilliance.

They were nightmare moments, according to Vern.

But now the chaos is reigned in and financially the station's never been better, he says.  

Happy birthday Big River FM. You've come of age.

Phil Godfrey, Anaru Tana, Vern Woods

Phil Godfrey, Anaru Tana, Vern Woods Photo: RNZ/Susan Murray