Friday, June 19, 2009

New Radio New Zealand Int'l Radio Heritage Documentary

Join us from June 15 2009 when the Radio Heritage Foundation airs a,new radio heritage documentary on the Radio New Zealand International [RNZI] Mailbox program.

You can listen via shortwave or audio on demand [for the following month] with full details of frequencies and times and audio download at

The program celebrates 55 years since the original Fiji BroadcastingCommission signed on the air for the first time on July 1 1954.

>From VPD on shortwave and ZJV on mediumwave since 1936, Fiji has enjoyed one of the most sophisticated radio broadcasting markets in the Pacific. In World War II an American Armed Forces Radio station [WVUT] also broadcast from Nadi, home of the main airport in the islands.

The [then] New Zealand Broadcasting Service was heavily involved with the establishment of the Fiji Broadcasting Commission. It supplied almost the entire expatriate staff on secondment from New Zealand commercial and non-commercial stations, carried out the technical work across the islands, built the broadcasting house, and provided good guidance for the new independent public broadcaster.

In fact, on the opening night on July 1 1954, the new FBC chairman spoke what have turned out to be highly prophetic words:

"This broadcasting service will certainly provide entertainment, but it will not be the government's idea of what should divert us. It will offer programs of information and enlightenment, but these programs will not be the government's conception of what we should hear."

In the light of recent events in Fiji where the media no longer enjoys such freedoms, it's interesting to note that such a warning was being sounded those 55 years ago.

At the time, Fiji was a British Crown Colony, and this was a new experiment for the colonial authorities.

The rest of the opening celebrations for the FBC included Fijian choirs, Indian music clubs, the Fiji Infantry Regiment Band, pianists, violinists and even the Suva Group Theater.

For a timely look back at the birth of free public broadcasting in Fiji those 55 years ago, as well as some fabulous Fijian music, visit today and download the audio from the June 15 edition of Mailbox.

Join David Ricquish of the Radio Heritage Foundation on this journey back to Suva on the night of July 1 1954, and also hear more excerpts from the opening speeches, and the song that ended that very first FBC broadcast.

This new radio heritage documentary on RNZI complements existing stories about early radio ZJV in Fiji online today at . A new article on 55 Years of the Fij Broadcasting Commission will be online shortly.
(Radio Heritage Foundation/HCDX)