Christchurch’s Community Radio: Plains FM

Plains FM logoPlains FM is a unique community radio station in Christchurch based at the Christchurch Polytechnic, CPIT.

The station provides a community access media outlet - it allows the public to broadcast programmes without editorial intervention. Programmes can be on any topic, but priority is given to programmes for groups under-represented in mainstream media - women, youth, ethnic and religious minorities and people with disabilities.

The station provides full training and assistance to help people become independent producers - providing a broadcast media outlet for material that may not otherwise see the light of day. Over the years this institution has trained thousands of people to get behind the microphone.

Broadcasters pay to make programmes, and the station receives core funding from NZ on Air. There are several other community access stations in New Zealand.

Listen to a brief history of Plains FM

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Plains FM 96.9 Timeline

Pre 1988
Discussions take place between Christchurch Polytechnic’s Media Centre, Radio New Zealand, the Independent Broadcasters’ Association (IBA) and Canterbury Communications Trust to create a non-profit community access radio facility for Canterbury.
29th February at 5pm, Plains FM goes to air for the first time. Staff includes Tony Simons as Station Manager, Sarah Ayton as Programme Director, David Glenn as studio operator, and a group of volunteers. The focus is community access, distance learning and student education. The first local programmes on air were produced by Schizophrenia Fellowship, Overeaters Anonymous, Unemployed Rights, The Netherlands Society.
Echo Radio, Plains FM’s longest running show, begins broadcasting.
Community Broadcasters’ Society (CBS) forms with Bryan Goulstone as Chair.
First Pacific Island programme broadcast by Viliami Halaifonua in Tongan.
The Broadcasting Act 1989 introduced, sector de-regulated and Broadcasting Commission begins funding Plains FM.
Airtime magazine first published.
Media Centre gains own frequency on 96.1FM for student broadcasts so “community access” now the dominant focus.
Sarah Ayton made Station Manager.
Anne Hercus made Patron of the CBS.
Plains FM implements an all-day automatic music system developed by TRS.
Plains FM hosts the first national conference for access stations from around New Zealand and the Association of Community Access Broadcasters (ACAB) is formed.
Plains FM begins broadcasting 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Chinese Voices wins Mobil Radio Award for Best Access Programme.
Plains FM is granted $19,000 by the New Zealand Lotteries Board to build a new production studio.
Second production studio opens with assistance from Lottery Grants Board, Trust Bank Canterbury and the CBS.
Plains FM gets a new station vehicle, a Toyota Deliboy!
Plains FM gets a fresh new logo.
Plains FM launches its website.
New Zealand’s first mobile studio broadcasts begin in schools courtesy of Plains FM.
Introduced RCS Master Control digital broadcasting system.
Jill Stanton appointed Station Manager.
Plains FM gets a new station van.
Plains FM’s mobile studio ventures outside Christchurch for the first time, to broadcast from Mountain View High School in Timaru.
Plains FM turns 10!
Ministry of Commerce allocates management rights to Plains FM96.9 for 1413AM frequency used by Radio Preservation Society and Radio Ferrymead.
Plains FM and Linwood High School are part of a world-first concert broadcast via the internet and radio.
The Switch 96, a trial Plains FM venture into youth radio featuring local secondary schools is launched on the 96.1FM frequency.
Radio Now Project launched, assisting new programme makers with free airtime to help them get started.
Renovated on-air suite opened.
KidsRadio celebrates 10 years on air.
The Switch 96 returns to the air
Major system upgrade to Windows platform commenced, and retraining of broadcasters completed.
Consultation with broadcasters to implement major overhaul of programme allocations into zoned strips across the entire schedule.
Plains FM wins Dynamic Community Learning Award.
Ron Kjestrup appointed Station Manager.
Plains FM begins podcasting some of its programmes.
The Plains FM van gets a make-over!
Nicki Reece appointed Station Manager.
Plains FM celebrates 20th birthday at COCA gallery.

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