Tune in, turn on, get miffed
5:00AM Tuesday October 14, 2008
By Matt Rilkoff | Taranaki Daily News
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Stormtroopers, threatening phone calls and a lovelorn pensioner all feature prominently in an almighty battle around free radio frequencies in New Plymouth.
The usually placid airwaves of the city’s free low powered FM stations have turned treacherous since One Christian Radio began pumping out tunes in August on the 106.9FM frequency.
Denis Wadsworth says his low-powered station, 106.7FM, two “clicks” away from 106.9, is being overpowered by the Christian broadcaster, leaving his central city listeners with static where once they heard his personally chosen tunes.
Mr Wadsworth says his Oriental St station has been broadcasting for just over 2 1/2 years and was listened to by taxi drivers, rest home residents and older people who appreciated the old style music and absence of advertising.
“An old lady came up to me. She said I can’t get your radio station anymore because of those bloody Christians,” said Mr Wadsworth.
He said if One Christian Radio changed its frequency to 107FM their competing signals would not overpower each other but the new station has refused to do so. “They can spread their good word. I don’t give a damn about that but these guys are acting more like stormtroopers than disciples,” Mr Wadsworth said.
One Christian Radio managing director James Cope said the Liardet St station was doing nothing wrong or illegal by broadcasting on the 106.9 frequency, which had been chosen in accordance with expert advice. “I was in HR (human resources) for 35 years. I do everything by the book.”
He said he was disappointed some people wanted to disrupt what he described as a community station and claimed an anonymous phone call by a hungover man proved Mr Wadsworth was out to get him.
“This is fact. He (Mr Wadsworth) said to guys over a bunch of beers that we’re going to find a way to bring down One Christian Radio.”
He said other callers had questioned whether he was acting in a manner befitting a Christian.
Mr Wadsworth said he was not responsible for what other people had said and would never have condoned such phone calls.
However, he said he had passed Mr Cope’s contact details on to some disgruntled listen-ers.
Regardless of who is right in this CBD melee Liardet St pensioner Rose Procter, 82, is having to do without American tenor and Hollywood hunk Mario Lanza.
She says the now dead singer is the love of her life and the only radio station on which she could hear his powerfully masculine voice was on 106.7FM.
“I’m dead miserable,” she said.
Ministry of Economic Development Radio Spectrum Management compliance manager Chris Brennan said the terms of the low-powered FM licence clearly stated there was no interference protection and two stations could broadcast on exactly the same frequency if they wanted.
He said they tried to encourage a level of co-ordination among stations, but that co-ordination appeared to have failed in New Plymouth.