Against the Odds: Community Access Radio Broadcasting during the Canterbury Earthquakes: Some reflections on Plains FM 96.9


  • Brian Pauling New Zealand Broadcasting School, CPIT
  • Nicki Reece New Zealand Broadcasting School, CPIT



Plains FM is a community access radio station in Christchurch, New Zealand. Access radio is a particular form of community radio that provides an alternative outlet for organisations, groups and individuals for whom traditional media outlets are difficult to access. For twenty-five years PlainsFM has provided a voice for hundreds of programme-makers, broadcasting in many different languages, offering a diversity of content that permits the public expression of a wide range of ideas, opinions and beliefs. Editorial control lies with the programme-makers, not the station management. Plains FM is the source of many interesting, often compelling, stories. In the hours after the September 2010 earthquake Plains FM was the only local radio station actually on air. This paper draws on the memories of staff, volunteers and broadcasters to consider the unique role of the station as a media outlet during and immediately after the traumatic events of September 2010 and February 2011. It also attempts to locate those stories within the concepts of civic engagement, social utility and media theory.