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Southland rural radio secures national audience

Media release 18 May, 2001

Southland rural radio secures national audience

In an age of centralised, urban-based communications networks, one of the country’s few remaining independent radio stations, Hokonui Gold Radio is bucking the trend in its drive to become a leading national supplier of rural programming.

From its headquarters in Gore, it has taken another step towards reaching farmers throughout the country through a deal with rural supplies and services business RD1.COM which is streaming the station’s daily hour-long rural news programme across its website.

RD1.COM chief executive Neal Murphy said that research showed that news and information was a major drawcard for customers using the site, and Hokonui Gold’s rural news was a ‘national treasure’.

“As our national media has become urban-based, and increasingly commercially-focused, access to quality rural news and information has diminished,” he said.

“Thanks to the website, farmers can access quality rural news, interviews and commentary whenever they like.”

Hokonui Gold chief executive Jamie Mackay said his station had been a ‘guinea pig’ for the privatisation of the rest of Radio New Zealand’s commercial network when it was sold in 1994. The station was bought by Mr Mackay and other private investors.

Radio New Zealand’s commercial stations were later sold to become the Radio Network, leaving few independent stations around the country.

Mr Mackay said that from the outset Hokonui Gold Radio set out to focus on rural news and sport in order to survive. The station’s Farming Show attracts the listenership of about 70% of all the farmers in Southland and Southwest Otago – population around 130,000.

Mr Mackay said the deal with RD1.COM complemented the station’s move to take its daily farming show online and offered a great opportunity to inform and entertain farmers all over the country.

“Our daily farming show is, we think, among the best rural coverage in New Zealand, and we’re thrilled with this deal with RD1.COM that will allow us to grow our audience.”

Regular interviews with farming leaders, Prime Minister Helen Clark, Agriculture Minister Jim Sutton and other leading rural commentators are part of the show.

Mr Mackay says that while quality information is at the heart of what the service provides, “we try not to take ourselves too seriously.”

“I suppose we are bucking the trend,” said Mr Mackay, “when more and more news services are centralised and networked, we’re doing our own thing and proving successful.”

Mr Murphy said that RD1.COM was delighted to secure Hokonui Gold as a content provider for the site.

“They really understand the rural market and they speak the language of our customers,” he said.

“Our mission is about providing tailored, useful information for farmers and rural New Zealanders and this services is a great addition.”

RD1.COM is the country’s leading integrated ‘clicks and bricks’ rural supplies and services provider with 27 AnchorMart stores nationwide and 13,500 registered users of its website that includes an online store with more than 7,000 items .

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