“Abandon ship, abandon ship. I’m turning the microphone up loud. The siren has gone…the rocks are within swimming distance…”
Thirty-nine years ago this SOS was broadcast across a raging storm by a rebel group of journalists, producers, and technicians. Their dream to transform the monochrome of state run radio to colour would lead them to the sharp pointed rocks off Great Barrier Island. Rejecting the states monopoly of radio frequencies had left Radio Hauraki with no other alternative than to broadcast from sea.
In 1968 the Tiri, which Hauraki broadcast from, hit rock bottom. It was grounded twice that year because of severe storms. Hauraki’s biggest storms however were yet to break.
Playing heavy rock n’ roll with lyrics that included ‘fuck’ contrasted markedly with presenters of the day like ‘Aunt Daisy’ and meant the station was never far from controversy. Hauraki faced a barrage of legal, political and bureaucratic attacks. On one occasion the police lowered Auckland’s viaduct bridges arms preventing the ships departure, while hundreds protested.
With DJs that entertained rather than informed they pioneered New Zealand Radio.
Tonight as I sit in the Salient office writing and drinking with the radio playing beside me I’m aware that a lot of what I’m hearing started with Hauraki.
And as I turn the dial scanning for bands, I feel a lot like those guys did back in 1968.
I want to hear something different.
Maybe I’m going to get that from unlikely swagger of Vic students called the Victoria Broadcasting Club, who like Hauraki are venturing into new waters.
Now turning the dial to 88.3fm I can hear the music of Sigur Ros (one of my favourite bands) and I get the feeling that the VBC are trying to give me what I want- a way out from the banality of commercial radio. I’d like to send them a signal of my own- respect.
They’ve been working on the station for 18 months, for no money, because they want to provide you with an alternative.
I reckon we should turn on, tune in, and drop in.