6 Jun 2017

Money and tributes flow in for struggling Wellington radio station

From RNZ Music
Lauren Spring and Liam Kennedy from Radio Active's Thursday drive show.

Lauren Spring and Liam Kennedy from Radio Active's Thursday drive show. Photo: Supplied

Wellington’s Radio Active has raised over $33,000 in the first three weeks of its Givealittle campaign to put the independent radio station back on stable financial footing.

The former student radio station aims to raise $88,600, which will enable them to hire a salesperson, update studio equipment and retain key current staff.

It’s not just money that’s been flowing in - fans have been sending in loads of supportive messages, boosting campaign organisers' morale.

“We’ve just been really thrilled with the passion and love people have shown for Radio Active,” says station director Ross Steele.

“It’s been the first to play many local groups, not just in Wellington. It was the first station in NZ to play Lorde, as well as Fat Freddy’s Drop, The Blackseeds and so on. We want to be seen to continue to do that.”

One of the many donations and messages of support that have come in for Radio Active.

One of the many donations and messages of support that have come in for Radio Active. Photo: Screen capture

Radio Active is heading in the right direction and the fundraising campaign is to give them ‘a cushion’ until they’ve got the station running smoothly again, according to Steele.

They need to find out what their audience wants before they make changes on air, and they’d like to hear feedback from more listeners. What won’t change is Radio Active’s passion for music and the culture that surrounds it, Steele says.

Radio Active was handed over to a newly formed charitable trust in May, after the company went into liquidation.

In recent years the station’s listenership has skewed towards people in their 50s and 60s, and while Steele would like to retain those lifelong fans, he’s keen to see the audience grow a younger audience.

“Part of the campaign is becoming more visible. We hope to do that with things like sponsoring gigs over the next 12 months, to make sure that we are renewing our listener base.”

Steele recognises the challenges for traditional media when it comes to chasing the advertising dollar, but says there are niche markets that rely on stations like Radio Active, citing the music community as an example.

He would like to see greater community engagement with the station, including with Wellington tertiary institutions and high schools.

“There’s no reason why we can’t have shows where aspiring DJs come in and try their hand under tutorship.”  

Former station manager Dave Gibbons, who had also been selling ads for the station has moved on.  

The station will begin looking for a new manager once their financial position is more secure.

The Givealittle campaign closes on August 20.