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Wanted: Pacific radio memorabilia

David Ricquish and the New Zealand based non-profit organisation, the Radio Heritage Foundation, have embarked on a gigantic task. They plan to collect and publish on the internet, details of every one of thousands of radio stations, past and present, that have broadcast in the wider Pacific region.

Their new website ( will present thousands of fascinating stories about radio in the Pacific area, from the 1890s to the present day. It's a virtual on-line archive that keeps long-gone radio stations alive and embraces contemporary radio as well.

"We hope to make the website a comfortable place to visit from a social, cultural, political, engineering, historical, radio, DX [distance listening], artistic or other viewpoint," says David, a 50-year-old journalist and broadcaster in New Zealand's capital city, Wellington.

"We're slowly adding stories from broadcasters themselves. We focus on the human stories, rather than dry 'official' reports and statistics. In fact, many queries are about genealogy and our database of people and personalities will become an important part of the project.

"Some of the stations written about have attracted more memories from those involved with them, such as WXLE Canton Island and KMTH Midway Island, and new nuggets of knowledge always add to these stories."

New stories are coming on-line as volunteer resources allow, and the "top 10" stories so far posted are:

  • The Art of Radio
  • The Voice of Australia
  • Radio NZ Signs On
  • King KONG vs KUAI
  • Radio in Manchuria
  • Radio ZJV Suva
  • Radio in Samoa
  • 'This is WVUV...'
  • WVUS New Caledonia
  • A Tale of Three Cities (Auckland, Sydney and Toronto)

Here are some extracts from the Radio Heritage website:

For any given station, you'll begin to find stories about how it came to be, interesting and exciting times, photos of the studios, transmitters and towers, information about the staff, artwork from old logos and marketing or propaganda material, program schedules, and sound bites so you can listen to what the station sounded like.

If it's still on the air, we'll give you links to their web pages and streaming audio, so you can follow their latest activities and listen to them today. We'll also list any books or other publications we know exist about the station.

Imagine a very large jigsaw puzzle of call signs, locations, frequencies, stations, stretching over 80 years, many countries and some 2500 plus individual radio stations, and you're starting to get an idea of the size of the project for Pacific AM and FM stations alone.

As well as the usual broadcasting stations, the project encompasses 'ham' or amateur radio, maritime radio, aviation radio, military radio, communications radio stations, and special networks such as the Royal Flying Doctor Service radio network in Australia.

Lots of the pieces have been hidden for a long time, so we have no idea what the final picture will look like. But, with the help of people all over the world, we're starting to make progress.

There are university professors, writers, website developers, retired military personnel, active radio amateurs, historians, radio DJ's, ordinary listeners, collectors of trivia, public relations experts, and many others already contributing in some form or another.

Become part of this on-line global project that knows no geographic or cultural boundaries! It's easy. Write your own story about any aspect of Pacific radio. Send us articles from old magazines or newspapers. Copies of station collectibles (scanned is fine), logos, artwork, Top 40 play lists, and other material which illustrates the 'sound' of the time. Photos of people, studios, events and towers and transmitters.

It's a non-profit registered charitable trust in New Zealand and contributions of time, skills, radio memorabilia and funds enable more stories to come on-line in the future.

The Radio Heritage Foundation also carries out advocacy to protect radio heritage sites such as old transmitter and studio buildings under threat of demolition, provides a safe haven and storage facility for original items (such as recording tapes, QSL cards, photos, memorabilia etc), produces regular radio documentaries heard on Radio New Zealand International and other stations.

It will soon launch a series of simple guides to radio stations in New Zealand, Australia and around the Pacific, guides to WWII stations in the Pacific, and engage in an oral history project to collect original stories from those who remain from the early days of radio.

If you can offer David interesting information about any radio station in the Pacific, or wish to learn more about how you can get involved in the project, you can email him at


The 1890-1920 period is the accepted beginnings of radio in the Pacific, with Lord Ernest Rutherford known to have transmitted 'herzian' waves at Canterbury College in Christchurch, New Zealand as early as 1894, making him a contemporary of Marconi. He went on to split the atom rather than follow up his early radio experiments, otherwise New Zealand may well have been the home of radio, not Italy.. - Radio Heritage Foundation.




Story first posted March 2005

Copyright 2005

Eric Shackle

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