One of Taranaki's most beloved quirks is again facing up to life as an endangered species.
New Plymouth's independent radio station The Most FM has been forced to halve its workforce of two, disestablishing station manger Mike Dunn's position in order to stay afloat.
This is not the first time the station has been in trouble. In 2008 it was off air for months after a clerical blunder let their broadcasting licence expire. But it was soon back, run by a charitable trust.
Trustee Richie Shearer is confident of the station's survival.
"We've fallen on tough times before but we have regrouped and rebuilt. It's a challenge to keep our heads above water and unfortunately the largest cost, in this case the station manager, has had to be sacrificed to restore viability," he said.
Truly independent stations like The Most, which relied heavily on their more than 40 volunteers, were endangered species, Shearer said.
They were not helped by crippling licence fees, which he said were similar to that charged on commercial stations despite their charitable trust status.
"There is no mechanism to take that into account. But Taranaki is very lucky that our volunteers and trustees have put in so much effort keeping this cultural quirk going. There is really no other province that has a radio station like it," he said.
For his part, Dunn is disappointed but not dispirited that his job for the past two years is over. He will continue to host his Friday afternoon radio show at the station and his passion for the influence and value of local radio remains undiminished.
"It's one of the few stations in the country that is still holding tight to proper live, cutting-edge music. It's common overseas but has been mostly squashed out over here.
"Radio is still incredibly important globally to push and promote new music and it needs to be important here," he said.
Most FM trustees will manage the station while Jack Irving will remain as breakfast host and station co-ordinator. More changes to ensure the station's sustainability are expected to be announced in the coming months.
- Taranaki Daily News
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