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MNZ Interview: Capital BS 004: Beagle FM

02 Jun 2021 // An interview by bethany_rachell

Capital BS caught up with the crew from Beagle Radio about niche radio genres, passionate music and that one band...

With input from:
Kim Townsend, Jamie Haigh, David Fleig, Eursula Hicks, and Damian Pullen.

Tell us a bit about Beagle and how it came about?

Beagle Radio was started by a group of friends sitting in a bar, who wanted to do something for the community, and the shared interest was a passion for music. Luckily, there were people in the group who had the technical and organisational skills to make it happen. It also required many more meetings in bars to get it going, and keep it going. As it says on the website, Beagle is “Whangarei's only 1 watt low power FM community radio station named after a dog,” so we’re pretty niche. Being low power means the FM broadcast is limited, but you can listen online at beagleradio.co.nz

How much involvement does Beagle Radio have with the local music scene?

Our studio is inside 116 (oneonesix.nz), Whangarei’s amazing community arts and events space, and we support local musicians by organising gigs either onsite at 116 or at other locations, which are promoted by Beagle Radio.

Is there any involvement other than air play?

We also interview NZ artists on tour, and have live-to-air performance events like The Raw Sessions, featuring local bands. We organise community gatherings like Beagle Day Out, and do fundraisers for the station like “Rock the Frock,” a big dress-up party and our major annual event, featuring live music and DJ’s. Beagle Radio also takes part in events such as the recent Record Fair at 116, and the Beagle Courtyard sessions, which are opportunities to get out of the studio.

What role do you think local radio plays in supporting NZ music?

It’s important, especially for less well-known performers, as commercial stations are more inclined to play bigger kiwi acts, so we try to play less mainstream NZ and local artists. We encourage DJ’s to play NZ music during NZ music month, and throughout the year. There’s a big list of NZ bands on the wall in the studio as a reminder!

What has changed over time and what will continue to change?

Change comes with new voices and perspectives in the Beagle DJ team, but Beagle’s ethos has always been to support the local scene including theatre, music, arts, dance, and youth culture. Being able to stream our station online helps to connect to a wider audience, which is not possible with our FM transmission. We noticed that Covid inspired people to listen to the radio again!    

How do you think the community engages with Beagle radio?

A lot of the engagement is due to Beagle Radio being part of 116. The station tries to support 116 events and works in partnership with other initiatives happening in the creative community. The more diverse and creative we can be on Beagle Radio; the listenership grows and changes accordingly. We encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to get involved, and enjoy hearing a variety of voices and all kinds of music on our station.

What do you think are the advantages of being an independent radio station?

Being independent! It gives us the freedom to be completely community based, and to be different. For example, playing The Eagles is banned on Beagle Radio, which is one of our few rules. With less rules, there’s freedom for DJ's to come in and play whatever they feel like, just not The Eagles. Some people still play The Eagles, and we don’t ask them to leave. We just work with them on that. Independence gives us the ability to engage with individuals and community groups, and there’s a sense of 'everyone having a go' – we have DJ’s from all walks of life. And people listen all over the world – there’s a great website called Radio Garden (http://radio.garden) which we belong to, which helps a global audience find us...

In terms of NZ music, would you say that you play more music from Tai Tokerau than anywhere else in the country?

That's hard to say... we’d guess that of the local bands that we know and play, other stations are probably not playing their music on air.  The music on Beagle Radio is determined by the individual taste of the DJ's, so NZ music is peppered throughout shows, but we don’t have a specific policy on what should or shouldn’t be played. Except for that one band...

Anything else you want to say?

One thing that doing this interview for muzic.net.nz has helped us to realise is that we need more NZ music on our playlist! Thanks for taking an interest in us! 


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