89FM now Free!
Free FM broadcasts Waikato-wide on 89.0FM, covering the area north of Huntly to South of Tokoroa, east of Te Aroha and west of Raglan. This is in addition to the Station's live stream and on-demand podcasts from this website.
The Ministry for Culture and Heritage allocated the 89.0FM frequency to Free FM in October 2011. (The Station had previously broadcast as Community Radio Hamilton on AM1206 and low-power 106.7FM in Hamilton city.) After several years of lobbying, and successfully raising more than $100,000 to fund the project, the Station launched as Free FM 89.0 on 1 August 2012.
The 89.0FM frequency has had a number of users in its 25 year history. Initially it hosted University of Waikato student station Radio Contact, who renamed themselves Contact 89FM and started broadcasting on FM in 1986. In 1997, for reasons relating to student politics, the frequency licence was leased to other operators, and over the following years was on-sold to a number of other operators - including The Generator, Backbeat FM and Rush FM. None of these stations really delivered on the conditions of the licence, which described simply were to provide a radio station primarily for the use, development and entertainment of tertiary students.
In April 2011 the 89.0FM licence expired, and later that year the Ministry for Culture and Heritage revised its criteria to meet a more general community purpose.
You can hear the full story in this TV Central interview with our general manager Phil Grey, recorded in November 2011.