Localism is critical to regional radio remaining relevant

Updated: Jun 26

I was lucky enough to start my career in regional radio at ZZZ FM in Lismore NSW doing mid-dawns back in 1999, and 20 years later, I find myself programming in New Zealand.

Regional radio in Australia is very different to New Zealand. Due to the amount of network brands piped into the markets here (e.g. Rotorua has a population of 70,000 people with 18 commercial frequencies plus the government-operated stations), there is a lot of choice for listeners. You would think that’s going to make it pretty difficult for a local show to survive.

Imagine being the host of a local show in Bathurst, with a co-host and maybe a producer if you’re lucky, competing with 18+ national shows – all with huge budgets, big profile TV personalities, access to guests, prizes and resource that you could only dream of.

Well, this is a reality for many regional shows in New Zealand. And unbelievably, local shows can actually thrive in such competitive market conditions because of their use of localism, a skill many Australian regional shows simply don’t do good enough.

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