Commercial radio feature

Happy Birthday NZ Commercial Radio!

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

 

This Saturday is the 80th anniversary of national commercial radio in New Zealand, which started with station 1ZB Auckland on 29 October 1936.  Radio had been operating in New Zealand since the 1920s, but advertising was generally not allowed and stations were mostly financed via a licence fee paid by listeners, or via sponsorship from a related business, such as a music retailer. 1ZB had been broadcasting in Auckland for several years already as a private station, owned by Methodist minister Reverend Colin Scrimgeour. 

 

Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham), a darling of NZ commercial radio (image: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).
Aunt Daisy (Maud Ruby Basham), a darling of NZ commercial radio (image: Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision Documentation Collection).

 

In 1936 the first Labour government under Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage bought 1ZB and re-opened it as the first station of the government-owned National Commercial Broadcasting Service. 2ZB, 3ZB and 4ZB followed in quick succession, bringing commercial broadcasting to Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. Former 1ZB owner, Rev. Scrimgeour – or “Uncle Scrim” – was appointed as head of the new service.

Announcers such as Maud Basham, the legendary “Aunt Daisy,” became firm listener favourites on the commercial network, with her chatty programme of infomercials, recipes and household hints, along with new features such as sponsored radio serials, quiz shows, hit parades, sports commentary and talent quests – all paid for by advertising. The commercial network also hired Māori broadcasters in each centre: Uramo Paora “Lou Paul” in Auckland, Kingi Tahiwi in Wellington, Te Ari Pitama and Airini Grenell in Christchurch and Dunedin.

The government soon discovered commercial radio was a great income earner. In the first year of operation, the four commercial stations made a profit of 10,000 pounds.  After World War II, income from the commercial network was used to establish the National Orchestra – later the NZSO.

The commercial network grew to include regional and provincial stations and ran side by side with the non-commercial network as part of the New Zealand Broadcasting Service (and various later incarnations such as the N.Z.B.C. and Radio New Zealand), until it was sold off by the government in 1996. The ZB stations became part of The Radio Network – and are better known today as NewstalkZB.

You can hear what 1930s commercial radio sounded like in this 1961 documentary.

JeanBatten feature

“This is Without Doubt the Very Greatest Moment of My Life” – Jean Batten’s Record-Breaking Flight

- By Sarah Johnston (Client Services Coordinator – Radio, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision)

Eighty years ago today New Zealander Jean Batten became the first person to fly from Britain to New Zealand. Her arrival at Auckland’s Mangere Aerodrome in her Percival Gull aeroplane was captured by radio station 1YA in a series of remarkable live broadcast recordings held in the RNZ historic collection at Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision.

 

Jean Gardner Batten. New Zealand Free Lance : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-046051-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22671195
Jean Gardner Batten. “New Zealand Free Lance” : Photographic prints and negatives. Ref: 1/2-046051-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22671195

 

Jean was already famous for her successful solo flights from England to Australia in May 1934, and to South America in November 1935, so a large crowd had gathered to welcome her. The unidentified radio announcer describes the approach of her plane, with sightings already reported by observers in New Plymouth, Mokau and Kaipara as she approached Auckland from Sydney. The journey had started in Folkestone, England on the 5th of October and she had already broken the previous UK-Australia record by arriving in Sydney one week later.

The audio, which was captured on a series of 12-inch acetate discs, is faint and crackly and almost inaudible in places. Considering the National Broadcasting Service had only acquired disc-recording equipment the previous year, it would have been quite a technical feat to record the commentary and welcome as they were broadcast live “on relay” from the aerodrome.

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Mansfield feature

Happy Birthday Katherine Mansfield

Today marks the birthday of Katherine Mansfield, who was born on 14 October 1888.

In celebration of the influential and innovative author’s life we’d like to share a recording from the sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision with you.

Listen below to the 1962 radio documentary, The Sisters of Kezia: Katherine Mansfield Remembered. In this programme, commissioned for the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation archives, Mansfield’s three sisters reflect on her life and memories of their shared Wellington childhood.

 

The Sisters of Kezia: Katherine Mansfield Remembered (New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation, 1962)

 

Image: Archives New Zealand,  https://flickr.com/photos/35759981@N08/15356040674 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)
Portrait of Katherine Mansfield. Image: Archives New Zealand, https://flickr.com/photos/35759981@N08/15356040674 (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license)

 

Rights information for audiovisual items.

Serpentine

Moving Pictures Arrive in New Zealand

120 years ago, on 13 October 1896, New Zealanders first got their chance to see moving pictures, when the first film was played to an audience at the Opera House in Auckland. Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision is marking this anniversary with a series of screenings of a selection of Films that Shaped New Zealand in Wellington over the next 10 days – and we will be preceding each of these screenings by showing either Sandow the Strong Man or The Serpentine Dance before each feature. These were two of the first films ever watched by New Zealand audiences back in 1896.

 

Eugen Sandow in the film Sandow the Strongman (Edison Studios, 1894, directed by William K.L. Dickson).

 

The inaugural screening of moving pictures in New Zealand was as part of a vaudeville programme by Charles Godfrey’s Vaudeville Company.  The “kinematograph” screenings were part of the show’s line-up, along with singers and musical items. After the first performances in Auckland, the show moved to Thames, Paeroa and Wellington later in October 1896, before further screenings in Christchurch and Dunedin in November that year.

 

A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, "New Zealand Herald," 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)
A preview of the first motion picture screening in New Zealand, “New Zealand Herald,” 13 October 1896 (courtesy of Papers Past)

 

Annabelle Whitford in the film The Serpentine Dance (Edison Manufacturing Co., 1895, directed by William K.L. Dickson and William Heise)

 

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wine

“Cheers!” – How Radio has Covered the Growth of Our Export Wine Industry

Blenheimer, Marque Vue, Cold Duck. If you are over a certain age those names of early New Zealand wines may bring back a few memories. In her regular segment on RNZ, Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision client services coordinator Sarah Johnston talked to Jesse Mulligan about recordings in the sound collection of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision that look back at the early years of New Zealand’s export wine industry.

Couple drinking wine. K E Niven and Co :Commercial negatives. Ref: 1/2-225711-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22810341
Couple drinking wine. K E Niven and Co : Commercial negatives. Ref: 1/2-225711-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. http://natlib.govt.nz/records/22810341

 

The earliest mention in our sound collection of a possible wine export industry,  comes from the magazine-style programme “Radio Digest” in 1955.  A correspondent in Britain reports on Australian moves to export wine to the UK – and hints that this could be something we could try – one day…

 

“Radio Digest,” no. 299, 6 February (ref. 38599)

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Feature

Spring – The Uncertain Season

What does the coming of spring call to mind for you? For Shirley Maddock, the filmmaker behind The Uncertain Season (1962), a pictorial essay made during the first years of television in New Zealand, spring brings a range of pleasures, including:

Fluffy chicks:

Chicks
“The Uncertain Season” (Shirley Maddock, 1962)

 

The release of new season’s fashions:

"The Uncertain Season" (Shirley Maddock, 1962)
“The Uncertain Season” (Shirley Maddock, 1962)

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