Radio New Zealand Signs On
Counting Down to 100 Years of Popular Kiwi Radio 1921-2021
Radio New Zealand Shortwave Service in 1948
From Monday, September 27, listeners with shortwave
receivers in many parts of the world will pick up new signals. They
will come from the New Zealand transmitters ZL2, ZL3 and ZL4 of the
recently-created Shortwave Division of the New Zealand Broadcasting
Service. 'Radio New Zealand' as it is called, will provide a service
for the New Zealand Dependencies in the Pacific and for the Trust Territory
of Western Samoa, and at the same time offer a programme of general
interest to listeners in other countries.
Experimental broadcasts made last November were followed
by about 1500 letters to the NZBS from people overseas. Some came from
as far away as England and Sweden. And of these letters, 1000 or so
were from Australia. A frequent comment from Australia was 'It came
in just like our local station'.
This card was issued by Radio New Zealand in 1958 to celebrate its 10th anniversary
In New Guinea and New Britain, reception varied from
good to very good. In Fiji, Samoa and the Cook Islands, reception was
classified as good; in Malaya and the Netherlands East Indies it was
described as fair to good. Letters also came from the Philippines, China,
Japan, Korea, Burma, India and the Middle East, U.S.A, South America,
Canada, British West Indies, Belgium and Finland; and some sailors at
sea took the trouble to write in.
The prime purpose of Radio New Zealand is to give a
programme to the South Pacific area, including Australia, and also to
assist in building up our goodwill overseas. The transmissions, to start
with, will be limited to two hours daily, from 7.0 p.m. to 9.0 p.m.,
New Zealand Standard Time, and the policy of the Shortwave Division
will be to present programmes containing a maximum of entertainment.
About three-quarters of the time on the air will be
given to music; talks and news sessions will be short. Though the latest
census figures show our population as fewer than one and three-quarter
million, and we can lay claim to having produced few world-famous musicians,
New Zealanders have a healthy interest in music, and the standard of
local performances will allow the Division to include New Zealand artists
in its programmes.
Maori Lore And Music
Overseas visitors find the music of the Maori people,
with its strong melodic line and well-defined rhythm interesting and
pleasant to listen to. Some of the Maori mythology too, is good radio
material, and so, at times, Maori songs and stories will be broadcast
from the studios.
Talks will deal with many aspects of New Zealand life
and there will be sporting commentaries and NZBS productions of plays
and short stories. Each week, one session, prepared in conjunction with
the Government Tourist Department will detail New Zealand's attractions
as a country for tourists to visit, and give information about air and
shipping services. A 'Mail Box' section will answer overseas listeners
With the present aerial array, the Division will use
ZL2, ZL3 and ZL4 in the 31-, 25- and 19-metre bands respectively. Using
two transmitters, the station will broadcast the same programme on two
frequencies, thus providing alternatives to meet varying reception conditions
in different parts of the world, as is the usual shortwave practice.
The NZBS emphasises that Radio New Zealand will be
a purely overseas service and is not intended for local reception. Under
certain conditions the programmes may be heard in New Zealand, but satisfactory
reception will be unlikely. Programme schedules will be sent to those
overseas people who wrote to the NZBS following the November tests.
On the Technical Side
For readers who are interested in the technical details
of shortwave broadcasting, here is some information about the engineering
side of the new service.
The studios, at the Head Office of the NZBS, 38 The
Terrace, Wellington, can be linked with the main medium-wave broadcasting
stations in New Zealand, so that programmes originating in other parts
of the country can be made available to overseas listeners.
The current Radio New Zealand tower array near Taupo
The two transmitters used by the Shortwave Division
are at Titahi Bay, 17 miles from Wellington. Each transmitter has a
radiated energy of 7.5 kilowatts. They use high-level modulation, with
two 889R type valves as Class B modulators, and two 889R type valves
as the final modulated RF stage. The frequency range covers 6-22 mc/s
and a change in frequency can be made in less than two minutes.
As the initial programme service is intended primarily
for Australia and the Pacific, all the present aerials are designed
for a broad beam width of 58 degrees. The majority of the aerials consist
of two-tier, two-bay half-wave-length, horizontal radiating elements
with reflectors. These aerials have the radiating elements spaced a
half-wave-length in the vertical plane, while the later slewable beams
for the Pacific Service are being designed with a vertical spacing of
0.7 wave-lengths. All radiating elements consist of three-wire, centre-fed
Highlights from the proposed programme are as follows:-
- New Zealand News: Daily at 5.30 p.m. (Except Sundays)
- New Zealand Artists: New Zealand musicians will be
heard regularly in the programmes. On Tuesdays, at 7.15 p.m. and Saturdays
at 8.40 p.m., New Zealand artists will be featured in light musical
- Song and Story of The Maori: Sundays at 7.40 p.m.
- Listener's Digest: Saturdays at 8.0 p.m.- a weekly
radio magazine with a woman's page, a page of music, and other items
- New Zealand- Pacific Playground: Sundays at 7.30 p.m.-
a session of travel information for the visitor to New Zealand.
- Mail Box: Thursdays at 8.0 p.m.- Answers to letters
and replies to questions.
- Short Stories: Tuesdays at 8.0 p.m.- stories by overseas
and New Zealand writers.
- Plays: Fridays at 7.30 p.m.- from the Production Studios
of the NZBS.
- Talks: Mondays at 8.0 p.m.- a series covering a wide
field of New Zealand background information.
- Farm Topics: Tuesdays at 7.30 p.m.- news and recent
developments from the farmers point of view.
- Leisure Hours in New Zealand: Wednesdays at 8.0 p.m.-
How New Zealanders occupy their leisure with arts, hobbies and sports.
- Through New Zealand: Thursdays at 8.0 p.m.- talks dealing
with the New Zealand countryside, the coastline, outlying islands, and
the country people.
- Sporting Commentary: Mondays at 7.30 p.m.- commentators
highlight the main sporting events of the previous week.
- Pars from the Sporting Page: Wednesdays at 7.30 p.m.-
news paragraphs concerning sportsmen and general sporting activities.
For a long time, New Zealand has received shortwave
services from other countries; now it will be able to offer reciprocal
Original article from the 'New Zealand Listener' September 1948 © Radio New Zealand Limited
In 2000, Radio New Zealand International continues
to broadcast programs to Australia and the Pacific from studios in Wellington,
and 100kW transmitters located in the central North Island between the
resort town of Taupo and the city of Napier on the Pacific coast.