Regional Radio Personality Remembers The Early Days On The Airwaves

Jan 14, 2018
1438 Views

whatsoninvers.nz caught up with Southland radio personality Chris Diack recently before he left for Christchurch, to help set up two local radio stations there.

Chris’s radio career began with Foveaux Radio months before the station went on air.

He said there was a small group of people who set up the station’s equipment, recording studios and other rooms, as well as, sold and produced advertising campaigns, followed up with news leads and touched base with future clients.

Listen to the first on air broadcast.

Foveaux Radio was based upstairs in the former “Cecil Hotel” premises, on the corner of Tay and Kelvin Sts in Invercargill and went live on April, 28, 1981.

Mr Diack said the station ran 24 hours a day and consisted of local content, producers, announcers and advertisers.

Chris Diack with the trusty Foveaux Radio Lada. Photo: supplied.

He remembers there were about 23 people employed and everything was done in-house, much different to the majority of radio stations currently, which have become more centralised to the main centres, with on-air local DJ’s operating for about four hours a day during the week.

“There was even a recording studio at Foveaux where local bands and musicians could record music,” Mr Diack said.

Chris Diack, left, and Robert Jeffares. Photo: RNZ / Kate Newton

He said the building and station layout was a bit like a rabbit warren and had some fond memories of his time there, which included an Oreti Beach “insider” incident that he was unable to share – as to the nature of the situation – but let’s say it including two employees, a car, a late night and a studio microphone left on…

“I still pop in from time to time, to relive a few memories, and reminisce just how exciting it was to be involved with the birth of a new radio station.”

“You know the building was extremely hot in those days, and the brand new air conditioning unit never worked from day one – it was horribly, mind-blowingly hot,” he said.

His son Kim Diack is also involved with the local radio scene and has been with Radio Southland – the Darren Ludlow-led station, for the past 25 years. Chris Diack was also a part of the wider team that helped establish Radio Southland in 1992.

“Radio Southland certainly has a diverse listening audience,” Mr Diack said.

A fond memory of Chris Diack’s was when he received a written letter from one of the prisoners at Invercargill’s former prison borstal and latterly known youth prison, in Invercargill, in 1982.

“He sent me a painting on glass of myself with the Foveaux logo – I still have that and after all these years it is still intact.”

In 2005, Foveaux Radio was rebranded to become Southland’s More FM which also saw the station reduce to local content of 13 hours a day, when More FM introduced a network evening and overnight show.

Local programming has continued to be reduced during the years and currently the local breakfast show is hosted by Gretchen Blomfield and Simon Edwards, along with Steve Broad – according to the More FM website.

More FM are moving from their Kelvin Street building and into the new Invercargill City Council building development in Don St – bringing an end to decades of the radio stations based there.

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