Half century since 4XO began

Reading over his speech before going live on Radio 4XO on the day of the launch in 1971 is...
Reading over his speech before going live on Radio 4XO on the day of the launch in 1971 is Dunedin mayor, Sir James Barnes while broadcaster George Balani prepares to start the broadcast. PHOTO: OTAGO DAILY TIMES
It has been 50 years since Radio 4XO sent out its first broadcast as one of the earliest private radio stations in Dunedin.

It comes alongside the 100th anniversary on Wednesday of the first voice and music broadcast in the country,  which was trans mitted from Dunedin.

Radio 4XO, originally named Radio Otago 4XO, launched on November 20 1971.

Former 4XO news editor and host Allan Dick  said when the station launched it blew up in popularity ‘‘like a nuclear bomb’’.

As one of the first privately owned radio stations in the city it provided an alternative to the restricted and scripted nature of government owned stations, he said.

Dunedin was going through a tough time economically in the late ’60s and early ’70s and the city was ‘‘down in the dumps’’.

Radio 4XO was founded to help combat the low spirits. Presenters even had a rule that they had to sound positive while on air, he said.

The station quickly became very popular among young people and businesses while older people generally stuck to government- funded stations.

Mr Dick worked at the station from 1978 to 1986.

Founding chairman John Farry said the first broadcast was a historic day for Dunedin.

‘‘People had never been exposed to radio like this.’’

The station only interrupted the latest popular music for advertisements and news, whereas government stations regularly played concert music and radio dramas. Locals were able to discuss Dunedin issues and it gave the city a voice, he said.

An Otago Daily Times article covering the launch of the station in 1971 said the station’s switch board was ‘‘jammed with calls’’ and received hundreds of tele grams on its first day.

The opening broadcast began just after noon and featured a documentary on the history of Otago broadcasting.

The first day went smoothly, aside from 10 minutes in the afternoon when the transmission was interrupted by a technical fault.

The station identity 4XO was assigned because four meant the area of Otago, the X meant private and O stood for Otago. The station was rebranded as a 97.4 More FM station in the mid-2000s.




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