Radio 1XX, New Zealand’s Last Private Commercial Radio, Celebrates 50 Years

It was one of New Zealand’s first private commercial radio stations – and now it’s the last.

Radio One Double X (1XX) in the Eastern Bay of Plenty celebrates 50 years on the air, having first aired in 1971.

Since its launch, the community radio station has won the Station of the Year award (market not studied) eight times at the New Zealand Radio Awards.

It has become a local information platform and the first point of call in a state of emergency.

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1XX announcer Colin Magee said during the 2004 floods people called the radio station before calling emergency services.

It covered major events such as the Edgecumbe earthquakes of 1987, the floods of 2004 and 2005 affecting Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki and Matatā, and of late the floods and evacuation of Edgecumbe in 2017 and the devastating eruption. by Whakaari White Island in December 2019.


1XX news reporter Chris Bullen describes the effects of the Edgecumbe earthquakes in 1987.

The man behind much of the resort’s success is general manager Glenn Smith.

Smith started with the company in 1975 – 46 years ago – in promotions and announcements, before succeeding as chief executive from Christopher Turver in 1981.

“The community aspect is essential to me, and it is an opportunity to serve and develop a community,” said Smith. Thing.

“Because we’re kind of off the beaten track, we’ve been able to connect the whole area.

“Radio is over 100 years old, but it’s stronger than ever.”

1XX CEO Glenn Smith cuts the cake on the station's 40th anniversary 10 years ago.


1XX CEO Glenn Smith cuts the cake on the station’s 40th anniversary 10 years ago.

Smith described the past 46 years as “rich in experience.”

Yet it was the Edgecumbe earthquakes of 1987 that left a mark on Smith’s mind.

“We had people sleeping in the building for three weeks, we dropped all of our paid advertising for a month, we focused on the earthquake.

“We really responded in a way the community wanted us to do. “

1XX was the fourth independent commercial station on the air – behind Radio Hauraki, Radio i and Radio Waikato – but the first private station in a provincial region. It is now the last of the original batch of private commercial stations that aired in the 1970s.

Many have since become a “branded” resort, but 1XX has stuck to its motto – “All Eastern Bay, all the time” – and has remained independent.

Operating under the corporate name of Radio Whakatāne, the station changed its name to Radio Bay of Plenty Limited to better reflect the coverage area and to help garner more national publicity.

The original 1XX crew in 1971. Fred Botica is pictured in the back row, second from left.


The original 1XX crew in 1971. Fred Botica is pictured in the back row, second from left.

His original lineup of announcers included Paul Lineham, Fred Botica, Brian Strong, Steve Swallow, and Lee Hanner.

Botica was the first voice on the air, and he remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I was in the studio practicing … and the studio engineer came in and asked me to do the first broadcast.”

1XX aired at 10:30 a.m. on Wednesday, June 30. The first song played was House in Pooh CornerBy The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, written by Kenny Loggins.

“The way the whole town and the community supported the new radio station was fantastic,” Botica said.

“I learned the tricks of the trade and everything related to the radio. It prepared me for what turned out to be a great career in radio.

Botica left 1XX in 1973 and traveled to Perth, Australia, where he has been for 35 years.

The 1984 1XX trailer would travel around the Eastern Bay.


The 1984 1XX trailer would travel around the Eastern Bay.

But for a local, the station has become home.

Colin Magee is the longest-serving breakfast advertiser at 1XX.

Growing up in Ōtākiri and Galatea, Magee joined the station in 1986 at the age of 18 after a brief stint in agriculture.

He spent 10 years traveling the country for his career with his wife and quadruplets, but returned home in 1998 and sat in the breakfast chair for 23 years.

For Magee, it was the floods of 2004 that were a momentous moment in his career.

“It happened so quickly that I was getting over 100 calls per hour,” Magee said.

“People were stuck and wanted to know who they could call… and they were calling the radio station because we were following it so closely.

“This is where local radio really goes overboard.

Magee gave up his “dream job” at breakfast late last year; he is now the day announcer and works in sales.

Longest-serving breakfast announcer at 1XX, Colin Magee.


Longest-serving breakfast announcer at 1XX, Colin Magee.

Other notable names have passed through there over the 50 years of the station’s broadcast.

Journalist David Boddy, who worked at 1XX at the start of the station, later became the press secretary to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

Original TVNZ Lotto host Doug Harvey, TV3 host Leanne Malcolm, The crowd goes wild ‘s Ric Salizzo, TVNZ 1 sports reporter, Stephen Stuart, TV personality Melanie Kerr and Breakfast Weather presenter Matty McLean, were also part of the station’s stable.

The resort welcomes former staff to “come home” and party on the evening of June 26 – days before its 50th on June 30, 2021.

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