We started broadcasting as Howick Village Radio back in 2008, covering Howick Village, and a little bit beyond. As time went on and more and more volunteers came on board, we realised that we would need to increase our range, to reach more of the community.
We couldn’t increase our transmission power, so the next option was gaining more height. In the radio business – height is might.
We approached the good people at Crawford Medical Centre (they have the closest commercial premises to the summit of Stockade Hill) about having our transmission equipment on their roof. Which is where it remains to this day.
Sometime later, Botany Radio was formed as a sister station to HVR to reach into the growing area of Flat Bush. Botany Radio was never quite as successful as HVR despite a committed team putting countless hours into it.
After a few years of both stations being independent, the decision was made to shut down Botany and combine it with HVR to form one station to cover the entire Howick Ward.
We managed to achieve that goal over the summer break of 2015/16.
Shortly after, the Howick Radio Charitable Trust was formed, and the name of the station was changed to East FM to reflect our expanded coverage. We officially launched East FM on April 16th 2016.
In addition to the amalgamation and new branding, we’ve had a busy couple of years attending numerous local events in our mobile studio. The East FM caravan.
As you would have seen, it is a completely self-contained mobile studio equipped with everything we need to set up on location and broadcast to the community. We have a generator on board which allows us to broadcast from anywhere. We’ve even broadcast from a boat in the Hauraki Gulf, just like the Radio Hauraki Good Guys did in the 60’s.
We transmit from the caravan back to our studio using the mobile phone networks. This allows us to go pretty much anywhere in the country, although we typically stay in our local patch.
The station continues to evolve as volunteers come and go. Our next major goal is to relocate the studio to a more accessible and visible location. And extra space wouldn’t go a miss too. Our “cupboard” has been good to us, but when you can touch both sides just by out stretching your arms, you know it’s a bit on the small side. Any more than 2 people in there and it’s a little too cosy.
As funds permit, we improve and upgrade our equipment to industry standard, so that kids coming through to get practical experience will have a good basic understanding of gear they are likely to come across in a commercial station.
Providing a platform for our local youth to gain confidence and experience prior to attending tertiary education in the communications or broadcasting fields, is something we are very proud of. Many of our past volunteers have gone on to jobs in the industry, and they often get in touch to say how they are getting on and express their gratitude for the opportunity they had at our station.