One of my all time favorite short-wave broadcasters is Radio New Zealand International (RNZI). The first time I tuned in and caught their unmistakable bellbird interval I was mesmerized. The year was 1969.
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Back then the station broadcast with two 7.5 kW transmitters from Titahi Bay. These capable transmitters, which had been left behind by the US military after the Second World War, operated on the 25 and 31 meter bands from 1948 till 1990. Their signal carried well into the wee hours of the morning, between 06.00 and 09.00 GMT, reaching beyond New Zealand to the Rocky Mountains where I lived.
What a delight it was to hear Radio New Zealand, as the station was then known. The regional news and weather, Pacific island languages, insightful programmes on New Zealand to contemporary music with quotations interspersed between songs seemed all too exotic, at least fascinating enough to entice me to listen frequently.
As the 1980s drew near I listened less, not just to Radio New Zealand, but shortwave broadcasters in general. By this time my life had become increasingly focused on career and family. Meanwhile political pressure grew for Radio New Zealand to take a more active role in the Pacific area. The New Zealand government upgraded the station's service and installed a new 100 kW transmitter, which commenced operation on opening day of the Commonwealth Games held in Auckland. At this point, the station was re-launched as Radio New Zealand International.
Today, RNZI has two transmitters – a 100 kW analogue transmitter and a 100 kW digital capable (DRM) short-wave transmitter. The transmission site is located at Rangitaiki, 41km east of Taupo in the centre of the North Island of New Zealand. Audio is fed to the transmitters by a digital link from the studios in Wellington, 400km south of Taupo.
Since resuming the hobby of short-wave listening I have rediscovered Radio New Zealand International. And their programming is just as captivating as it was all those years ago.
One additional bonus is their attractive and creative series of "Sounds Like Us - Kiwiana Radio" QSLs. While I had the fortune to QSL Radio New Zealand twice in the late 60s and early 70s, on separate frequencies, I have been sufficiently impressed in recent years to submit several reception reports just to collect RNZI's current QSL series.
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In 2007 Radio New Zealand International introduced this new and fresh advertising campaign focusing on iconic and traditional New Zealand images. With some Kiwiana twists these images were developed into ten classic and quirky model radios created by the very talented team at WETA Workshop. A further five radios were created from the winning designs in the 2010/2011 radio design competition.
The competition alone attracted hundreds of students at schools and
tertiary institutions around New Zealand. The aim was to display their
Kiwi creative ingenuity and to explore why they were passionate about
New Zealand culture, and what it meant to them to be a Kiwi. From a campaign concept and radio competition an assortment of fantastic radio creations, the "Sounds Like Us - Kiwiana Radio" QSL series evolved.
Equally important for QSL collectors, Radio New Zealand International remains a station willing to verify correct reception reports. This is especially unique in an age when international shortwave broadcasters have either ceased operation or issuing QSL cards.
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RNZI makes one request. To help defray costs, radio enthusiasts seeking their QSL are asked to enclose either two International Reply Coupons (IRCs) or US$2.00. It's a small price to pay, but one well worth it.
These and more designs may be also downloaded as screensavers HERE
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