We take commercial radio for granted in the United States since it came into existence in the 1920s.
Other countries weren’t so fortunate.
Most people would probably be surprised to learn that New Zealand didn’t allow private commercial radio until 1970.
It took quite a fight to convince the powers there to break the government monopoly on broadcasting.
It’s a fascinating story, involving a pirate broadcaster called Radio Hauraki.
A group of renegade radio guys lead by David Grapes came up with the idea for an off shore Pirate station sometime in 1965.
It took time and effort before a ship and equipment were secured. The New Zealand government even stopped their ship from sailing to prevent the broadcasts.
In the end nothing could stop Hauraki. That included storms that forced them on to the rocks causing the crew to abandon ship at one point.
Hauraki broadcast on 1480 AM in international waters three miles off shore.
Most of the programs were recorded on land about a week prior to air and brought to the ship for broadcast.
The operators applied for licenses several times and finally won the right to broadcast legally from land in mid 1970.
Radio Hauraki exists today as FM Classic Rock network heard throughout the country. It is owned by The Radio Network, part of Clear Channel International.
The Hauraki Auckland studios are filled with pictures of the pirate ship days. It is a station with a proud and interesting history.
Today New Zealand is home to about 250 commercial stations. That’s in a country with population of about 4.2 million people. Can you imagine a city the size of Atlanta with that many stations?
Take a look for yourself. Paste the link into your browser.