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Radio Woodville - The Voice of the Tararuas

Streaming via front door

BY SEAMUS BOYER

Conor Bragg entertains Kaikoura

AT THE HELM: Volunteer Gayle Cresswell at work at Radio Woodville.
Photo: MURRAY WILSON/Manawatu Standard

The front door at Radio Woodville is often wide open, as it is today, and before you even make your way inside you can hear the music.

Two small weatherproof speakers sit atop the tiny station building on Woodville's main street, opposite the town's only money-machine, and the day The Tribune visited we entered to Peter, Paul and Mary's 1963 hit, Blowin' in the Wind.

Inside, behind a bank of equipment, Gayle Cresswell is getting ready for the next song Dreamer by Europe and we get a glimpse of her passion for music.

"I still think this is one of the best songs they ever did," she grins as she clicks play on the cassette.

Radio Woodville is probably not your typical modern radio station, even aside from the tapedecks and open front door.

The station is manned 7am till 10pm, seven days a week, by 26 volunteer DJs.

It is a close-knit community, and the radio station is no different.

As one of the longest serving, Mrs Cresswell has given up her time to front the station dubbed "The voice of the Tararuas" for 12 years now, since it started in 1998.

She averages three three-hour shifts per week, "depending on emergencies on the farm," and still loves getting behind the controls.

"It's just an excuse to listen to good music you wouldn't normally get the time to."

And that is one of the biggest perks the DJs can play songs of their choice.

For Mrs Cresswell that choice is pretty wide, she is into everything from country to metal, and loves a good rock ballad.

She says popular requests are for Patti Page and Wilf Carter, names perhaps not so well-known these days, but that is all part of the station's purpose and charm.

"A lot of the modern stations don't play the music [our listeners] want to hear."

For station manager Eric Bodell it is difficult to know just how many of those listeners are out there, but he thinks it could be as many as 10,000.

He says the station reaches south to Pahiatua, north "a good way to Dannevirke", west as far as the Gorge, and "east-wise is anybody's guess".

And without volunteers like Mrs Cresswell, Radio Woodville could not exist.

Mr Bodell cites the thousands of dollars they had to pay in 2008 for 20 years frequency rights, plus the $550 annual licence fee.

"We have to pay the same amount as what a Palmerston North station would have to, [but] we're not making any money."

Despite this, the station manages to stay afloat by fundraising and hard work, and continues to provide a platform for keen local youngsters, several of whom have gone on to radio stations in other parts of the country.

They also get primary and secondary school pupils in to do their own shows, and broadcast community news and notices.

There are even opportunities for local musicians to play live at the studio, guaranteeing a wide audience.

For Gayle Cresswell, the ultimate success of the station comes down to the station's literal open-door policy.

"Some elderly people just ring up for a chat, and that's great. It's a community touch [and] I know there's a lot of the community listening in."

Radio Woodville's frequency is secured until 2031.

- Tribune

© Tribune July 29, 2010.

This material remains © Fairfax New Zealand Limited and is only to be used for non-commercial personal or research use. Any other use requires permission of the copyright holder.

For a current list of all Low Power FM stations broadcasting in New Zealand, visit our NZ LPFM Radio Guide.

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