Radio Broadcasting in the Pacific
A Look Back 50 Years to 1958
RNZI Mailbox Documentary May 26
50 years ago, the last of the American baby boomers was born, and radio
broadcasting was still in its infancy in most parts of the Pacific.
Australia and New Zealand had a combined population of about 12.3m people
and shared only 2.6m radio receivers amongst them. The ABC was about to end
experimental FM broadcasts in the main centers, and the only FM station in
the entire Pacific region was KAIM-FM in Honolulu.
The most powerful island shortwave radio station was Radio Tahiti, serving
75,000 local listeners in the year that General Charles de Gaulle became
French president and Sputnik 1 fell to earth.
Shortwave broadcasting was also the only form of radio in the Cook Islands,
New Caledonia and Dutch New Guinea. In Western Samoa, 2AP was celebrating
its tenth anniversary. No stations broadcast in Tonga or the New Hebrides
Condominium and only a few hours daily came from the new stations in the
Gilbert & Ellice Islands Colony and the British Solomon Islands
US Armed Forces Radio stations left over from World War 2 were still on the
air on islands like Midway, Johnston, Eniwetok, and Kwajalein, and the
relatively new Fiji Broadcasting Commission was still using shortwave radio
from VRH4 Suva.
Papua was served by just one station, 9PA Port Moresby, and KUAM was the
sole station on Guam. On tiny Canton Island, KIBS of the Hermit Crab Network
entertained airport staff at the lonely stop over point for the new
trans-Pacific jet services of Qantas and Canadian Pacific Airlines.
Listen to Mailbox on RNZI on Monday May 26 as David Ricquish of the Radio
Heritage Foundation takes listeners back to the world of Pacific radio 50
years ago in 1958.
Original theme music from popular British radio shows of the era, such as
'Housewives Choice', 'Desert Island Discs' and 'Family Favourites' also
features in this radio heritage documentary.
Visit www.rnzi.com for shortwave frequencies and times, and to download an
audio version of the program that remains available on line for four weeks
from May 26.
You can also download the previous documentary, exploring contemporary radio
in Fiji, Nauru and the Solomon Islands. This is available from the May 12
Mailbox program audio also at www.rnzi.com.
For more information about early days of broadcasting in the Pacific,
including stories and images and the popular Art of Radio Hawaii on line
exhibition, visit www.radioheritage.net. An online version of the program
script along with images will be available later.
Full searchable lists of operating AM and shortwave stations in the Pacific
are available free on line in the Pacific Asian Log Radio Guides. An FM
guide will be available shortly. Visit www.radioheritage.net to access the
current guides today.
The Radio Heritage Foundation is a non-profit organization connecting the
heritage of radio broadcasting and popular culture across the Pacific. Our
website is www.radioheritage.net.
Radio New Zealand International is the award winning shortwave broadcaster
serving the Pacific from Wellington, New Zealand since 1948, www.rnzi.com.