The Wireless

Toby Manhire at The Listener reports:

On Labour Day morning, Ben Uffindell, the wunderkind behind the Civilian satire website,tweeted that he was about to appear on .

Which, he added, “I find is always sort of like visiting your grandparents”.

And that somehow encapsulates a strength and weakness of RNZ: a cosy familiarity, something reliable, but also undeniably, how to put it, mature.

For some some the challenge for the national broadcaster has been how to attract younger listeners. The proportion of the audience under 30 is said to be puny.

The idea of a “youth” station has long been mooted, with some arguing it should replace Concert FM.

But years of discussion have at last borne fruit.

The Wireless is the boldest innovation from the cash-strapped grandparent for a long time, probably since the RNZ website added news and audio in 2005.

Crucially, however, this is not an online radio station: more a digital magazine, with features, blogs and plenty of video, aimed chiefly at 18-30 year olds.

And it looks very promising indeed. Each month will be themed, the first of which is “Free”, starting with a feature by Megan Whelan about personal finance, majoring on, unsurprisingly, debt.

The site looks really well designed and the articles well aimed for their target audience of under 30s. Radio NZ has a fixed budget so this initiative is not costing us any extra money, and it is good to see a focus on people who don’t just listen to Concert FM!

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