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 Protectorate.
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.