Community Radio Hamilton is now free.
After 20 years on air, the community Access radio station has launched on its new 89FM frequency with a new name: Free FM.
While the station's core purpose remains the same - broadcasting local content by, for, and about diverse community interests - the move to full-power FM means Free FM is bigger and bolder.
The new frequency provides significantly improved regional coverage and sound quality for the thousands of listeners who previously tuned in on AM1206 or low-power 106.7FM in Hamilton city.
The 89FM broadcast coverage area incorporates the wider Waikato area - from north of Huntly to south of Tokoroa, and east of Te Aroha to West of Raglan. This is in addition to the continuation of the station's live stream and podcast service, now via freefm.org.nz.
"The new 89FM frequency means we can at last offer our service to the whole region in a more relevant way, and really empower local communities with their own voice in the media," says station manager Phil Grey.
As a Community Access radio station (one of 12 around New Zealand), Free FM provides a forum for local voices not otherwise represented in mainstream media. It's also a not-for profit organisation, with some funding from NZ On Air.
Individuals and groups are encouraged to make use of Free FM, with free airtime and training available. "You can broadcast community notices, request an on-air interview, or even host your own weekly show. This is real community radio, and it belongs to all of us," Phil says.
The 89FM licence was granted in October 2011, following the revision of its purpose for general community use. The Ministry for Culture and Heritage conducted the application process, with the successful outcome coming after several years of lobbying. Free FM raised more than $100,000 to complete the project.
"We couldn't have done this without the support of major contributors including NZ On Air, Trust Waikato, Transpower and our fundraising partners SBS Bank and the Fairfield Rotary Club. Along with all the volunteers and supporters who have contributed more recently, and over the past 20 years to make the station what it is today."
Free FM will turn off its AM transmission on August 31.
Find out more about Free FM on its road trip around the region's markets this month. The station will be promoting its brand of radio, along with facepainting and giveaways.
The road trip will be in Ngaruawahia tomorrow and at Pirongia Market on August 26.
As the Waikato's only Access station, Free FM presents 100 radio shows every week "by, for, and about" the community, covering a wide range of interests. All of Free FM's 100 broadcasters are volunteers.
Tune in 24/7 on 89FM or via the live stream at freefm.org.nz. Podcasts are also available from the website or iTunes.