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Open door helps make radio accessible for aspiring disc jockey

Mar 18th, 2013 | By | Category: Diversity, Featured Article, Front Page Layout

IN A WORLD dominated by mainstream media and egos, Wellington Access Radio continues to make broadcasting accessible to everyone in the community.

Access Radio’s open door volunteer policy has helped one man accomplish his dream of becoming a radio DJ.

Brendon (right, in cap), who goes on air under his alter-ego Luke Skywalker, was told he would never be able to do things as difficult as being on the radio because of his history of mental illness.

With the help of his support-worker and co-host Dan Crozier,  he now has a one-hour slot to host his own show.

“Brendon and I met in Upper Hutt and the first day I met him he said that his goal was to be on radio,” says Dan.

Dan works for Pathways, an organisation which helps match people suffering setbacks from mental illness with their dreams.

He used to work at Access Radio when he was in high school and is now one of the board members, making it easy to fulfil Brendon’s ambitions.

“I think it’s just a really good community resource and a great place to start,” he says.

Luke Skywalker met Dan four years ago. “He took me under his wing and I trusted him 100 per cent and said, right I’ll go with this guy and if he says he can go on radio.”


Since starting at Access Radio, their show “The A Team” has been a success and over the four years, have gone from half an hour to one hour.

“I didn’t realise that this station was here and didn’t know it was as big and successful as it was until I came here and realised, wow, look at the opportunity that was given me,” he says.

During their one-hour show every Tuesday, they play music from all decades, and talk about gossip and sports.

An hour slot on Access radio costs programme-makers $49.

“We basically raised the money for the show through a site called Social Angels,” says Dan.

Social Angels is an online donation website, where all money donated goes directly to the cause.

Their target to get funding of $2,526.40 will keep them on the air for the full year.

Wellington Access Radio has been around since April 1981 and is one of the oldest of its kind in New Zealand.

Access puts out 80-plus programmes in more than 25 languages, and is a station by, for and about the community.

Piripi Whaanga has been station manager for about eight weeks, but first came across Access Radio when it was started up by Radio New Zealand.

Originally run under 2YB, the intent of Radio New Zealand was to reach a community it did not.

These audiences include ethnic, sexual and religious minorities, children, youth and the disabled.

Access also broadcasts to special interest groups, for example people who are interested in world music, animal welfare, health information and social justice.

“Community radio in its barest form is the community hearing itself on air, and it connects with them in a language and in a way they are comfortable with,” says Piripi.

By providing contributors with the facilities such as the 783 am frequency and studio equipment, it allows a wide spectrum of of the community to make their voices heard.

“You allow them to build it from scratch with their own ideas,” he says.

Piripi says that the radio format is tailor-made for broadcasting different languages.

“Access radio for communities is a natural medium if you can think of how a community communicates.

“It encourages people to become vibrant in their own cultures and languages,” he says.

Access radio allows anyone who wants to be a programme-maker the chance to go on air.

“The rationale of access radio is, when people come in, the job’s half done, they’ve come in.

“They come in and say “we want a dog show”, well that’s great, I don’t think we’d turn down a dog show,” says Piripi.

Piripi says  radio allows listeners to be open-minded.

“We’re aiming for ears, radio is for the ears, they are not discriminatory.

“They don’t just switch off because someone is Greek. You may hear something not English, but you still hear it.”

Piripi says Access Radio also allows the programme-makers to reach beyond their own specific community.

“That’s why it’s called broadcasting, not narrow casting, because it hits all the ears.”

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is a Whitireia journalism student.
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