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97FM Radio Warms Listeners at Scott Base, Ross Dependency

"97FM keeps us entertained at work and in the bar in the evenings" reports a winter staff member at the New Zealand Antarctic base writing on a recent blog for the UK Natural History Museum.

The writer [Jane] says '97FM may have an audience of only 14, but we think it's broken some world record for more plays of 'Stairway to Heaven' than any other radio station in the world.'

DJ Johnny 5 at 97FM Scott Base

DJ Johnny 5 at 97FM Scott Base
© UK Natural History Museum

We all create playlists, which are changed regularly, but not often enough sometimes. Every now and then we'll ring up Johnny 5 with requests to play or stop playing a particular song.

Every morning, he gives us the weather and a run down of daily events on Ross Island in his usual witty way.

This often involves a prelude to what Lance has prepared for morning tea and every now and then a secret recording of someone having a rant about world politics or the proliferation of zombies in the area.

We even have promos recorded by past residents of the base, including one by Sir Ed Hillary.

Scott Base is located in the Ross Dependency, an area of Antarctica claimed by New Zealand and directly to the south of the country. There are regular summer season flights to the nearby ice runways of the American base at McMurdo from Christchurch, the center for American, Italian and New Zealand Antarctic operations.

Scott Base listeners can also receive Ice FM 104.5 from McMurdo, a volunteer radio station which also takes a satellite feed of Armed Forces Network contemporary and rock music when local volunteers are unavailable.

Other AFN stations heard at McMurdo/Scott Bases are 91.1 FM with country and country rock music and 99.9 FM with news and talk programs from major US networks and personalities.

On 93.9 FM, the AFN delivers a 24/7 relay of National Public Radio news, current affairs, music and other cultural programs from US NPR stations and program makers.

For a review of Antarctic radio services see here and here for the story of WASA McMurdo, the original AFRS radio station.

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