Last-minute reprieve for Radio Active
Radio Active – the station that helped foster Wellington talent such as Fat Freddy’s Drop and broadcaster John Campbell – has been handed a last-minute lifeline.
The 88.6FM frequency was set to go silent today but it has now had a reprieve, thanks to a raft of backers, including bars and businesses around Cuba St, Wellington Mayor Justin Lester, and musicians Fat Freddy’s Drop.
Radio Active began as a Victoria University station in 1977 before being bought out by shareholders in the early 1990s.
Playing a mixture of alternative pop, Kiwi music and underground genres like house and jazz, it would go on to champion the early careers of some of the capital’s most successful bands, including The Black Seeds, Phoenix Foundation and Trinity Roots.
Campbell worked there when it was still a student station.
A charitable trust has been formed to run Radio Active, subject to regulatory consents and shareholder approval.
Spokesman Ross Steele said the trust had been ‘‘extremely heartened’’ by the huge number of people and organisations expressing goodwill and support.
Radio Active had been an icon in the Wellington music and cultural scene for 40 years, he added.
But Steele said the station was not out of the woods yet. A crowdfunding campaign allowing listeners to show their support for the station would be needed to put the company on a more secure footing.
Pledges of initial support had rolled in from San Fran Bath House, Havana Coffee Works, Southern Cross Bar, Havana Bar, Good Fortune Coffee, the mayor and Wellington City Council, Fat Freddy’s Drop, Rocket Fuel and a number of private donors.
Last month, company director Nicholas Bagnall said while the radio station had never been a money-making venture, the past few years had seen him having to prop it up with his own money.
Bagnall has agreed to support the station until May 1, when the trust will take over.
Steele did not reveal exactly how much money had been raised but said more was needed.
Former station general manager Mark Cubey is advising on transition options and said saving the station was a realistic goal given its strong brand, appeal to local advertisers and strong community support.
‘‘With a powerful brand ... goodwill and people coming together ... I think it’s viable,’’ he said.