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Interning at 95bFM Radio

Working at 95bFM gave me a unique understanding of radio in New Zealand. I didn’t have a good sense of what radio meant in New Zealand until I started learning about its history in my class. Even after volunteering as a news volunteer at the student-run radio station 95bFM, I didn’t understand how truly important the medium was.

Every week, I volunteered my time at 95bFM, located at the University of Auckland’s campus. It was a bit nerve-wracking going into a position where I had no idea what I was doing. On Wednesdays I would go in from 6am to 9am and write out lines of news for the Breakfast News segment. I would read through stories the news producer picked out and write out four or five lines summarising the article. It was basically a regurgitation of important headlines locally, nationally and internationally. 

The role gave me a taste of what radio stations do and a sense that I was doing something. The job seemed simple enough, but I felt compelled to challenge myself to become a better writer. So, I would run comments past the newsreaders to see if the sentences sounded conversational enough. Each morning, there would be something new. Also, I didn’t mind the early hours and it felt like the best way to get my day started by jumping right into the news. The sad part was, I felt detached from these stories because they were somewhat far away from my life. Still, I knew I was an integral part in helping the radio station inform and engage the public. 

I would describe the environment as an almost cult-ish community of progressive thinkers, with an affinity for conversation and controversy. There was loud music and even louder personalities. All of it, with a unique Kiwi twist. They use te reo Māori (the Māori language) and are social justice seekers. I actually learned later on in my radio class that 95bFM was originally called Radio Bosom and broadcasted illegally from a boat. The spirit of rebellion lives on at bFM.

What makes radio so important in New Zealand is the sense of community it creates. They say Kiwis are all separated by two degrees, that’s just how small the country is. Although that might not be completely true, there is a sense of community in the island country. There are public and commercial radio stations, both of which hold a lot of weight over influencing listeners. After the Canterbury earthquakes in 2011, radio was the only accessible medium for people who were scared and needed to stay informed. It was then that commercial radio became a powerful tool.

Radio in New Zealand is very much alive and adapting to new ways of broadcasting. I think as long as music and stories are relevant to everybody’s lives, radio will remain.

Overall, getting involved with something local is the easiest way to learn more about world. I have an appreciation for radio now because I see the process behind speakers. People who work in radio work tirelessly for very little in return. Even for a music station, there is journalistic integrity and the high-held dream of somehow improving society with their platform. These people are intelligent and driven people. They are not to be overlooked.

Volunteer at 95bFM Radio Station
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By Phillomina WongUS Study Abroad Scholarship Student

Updated 7 months ago

Phillomina is an American broadcast and digital journalism student who studied at Auckland University of Technology (AUT) and had a Generation Study Abroad Award. She is fascinated by the changing face of the media and how it can affect people and ideas. 

*Views expressed are the blogger's own
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