Pilots of the airwaves still

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A record is readied for play. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
A record is readied for play. Photo by Gregor Richardson.
That was the Wellington Ukelele Orchestra with their cover of the reggae classic Israelites.

It's 5.15 on the One.

Plenty of good music still to come - be sure to tune in to Eclectro for the best in techno from nine this evening."

The voice, a million miles from the polished hype of commercial radio, emanates from a booth in offices opposite the Otago Museum in Cumberland St.

The space is the home of Radio One, which this month reaches the stately age of 25.

Radio One went to air in early 1984, the country's fifth student radio station, after a campaign by students and musicians.

Among them were members of several top Dunedin bands.

Initial conditions were rudimentary, and broadcasts were often seat-of-the pants productions.

A University Union office was partitioned into two work spaces, two cupboard-sized announcers' booths, and a tiny record library.

With no recording studio, advertisements were recorded on portable equipment in the University's Clubs and Societies Building.

The entire space was only slightly larger than the station's current main office in the Union's archway annex.

What the station lacked in sophistication, it made up for in enthusiasm, and the music made it unique in Dunedin.

In the year Radio One went to air, other local stations were playing hits by Phil Collins and Lionel Ritchie.

The Prime Minister was Robert Muldoon, who had famously stated four years earlier that New Zealand rock music was "not culture".

Against this backdrop, Radio One unashamedly included a high proportion of local content, much of it too rough or non-commercial for other stations.

Even in pre-quota days the station prided itself on playing 30% New Zealand music.

There was a degree of self-interest in the support from local musicians, and Radio One was involved in promoting the '80s burgeoning "Dunedin Sound".