Free Fijian on Free FM
Listeners from around the world
ON THE AIR: Peni Seru, presenter of Fijian language programme Bogi ni Taukei
on Hamilton’s Free FM 89 radio station which relaunched today, thinks he would not be allowed home.
Photo: KELLY HODEL/FAIRFAX NZ
Peni Seru takes a few minutes to compose himself. I've just asked the presenter of Bogi ni Taukei,
a Fijian language programme broadcast on Hamilton community access radio station Free FM 89, how
his discussion of the Fijian Government on his show has affected his family.
"Mum passed away in Fiji in May and I could not go the funeral," Mr Seru said after a few minutes
silence as he wiped tears from his eyes. "I got to watch some of it on Skype but funerals in Fiji
last 100 nights."
Mr Seru started his show, listened to by ex-pats around the Waikato via their radios and the world
via the internet, after Commodore Frank Bainimarama led a military coup of Fiji in 2006. Mr Seru
was an education student at Waikato University at the time, working part time as a cleaner at the
station's Collingwood Rd studios on the ground floor of the ASB building. He thinks he would not
be allowed to enter the country if he tried to return home.
Convincing the station to give him air time wasn't difficult.
"The reason we set up the programme was so that the people could have access to what was
happening in Fiji. It has news, from home, and weather, for here," he said.
Since then Bainimarama's administration has seized control of the media in Fiji, censoring
what is published, but the Fijian Government's reach does not extend to Mr Seru in New Zealand
and his show. He said he was neutral when it came to discussing the Fijian Government, but he
did not censor his callers who rang in to discuss the state of their home country.
"I have a few listeners from Fiji, two or three who call, but their phones are monitored. Some
email. I have got listeners from around the world including Dubai, China and Japan."
Mr Seru, now a project co-ordinator at Kaute Pasifika Services, a Pacific Island health initiative,
also presents a show on behalf of his employer.
VIDEO DID NOT KILL THE RADIO STAR
Community access radio is alive and well in Hamilton, having relaunched today with a new name on a
new frequency. Free FM 89 is the new name of Community Radio Hamilton, which has relaunched on full
power 89 FM today after raising $103,000 for the upgrade. The not-for-profit station has broadcast
locally produced programmes on 1206AM and low power 106.7 FM for 25 years, with about 100 volunteer
broadcasters presenting more than 80 programmes a week. The station's core purpose is to broadcast
local content by, for and about the community, with much of the programming targeting specific
interest and ethnic groups. Genres include disability and health, minority language, community
information, music, hobbies and interests and religion and belief. Today the WaikatoTimes begins
a series of chats with Free FM 89. We talk to some of the 100 volunteers presenting 80 shows from
its Collingwood Rd studio.
- © Fairfax NZ News
© Waikato Times August 1st, 2012.
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