Public service radio provider Radio New Zealand has launched an online network aimed at 18 to 30-year-olds. Called The Wireless, it aims to provide multiplatform public service media to the digital native generation. It marks a change of approach from Radio New Zealand, a traditional broadcast radio network, as it uses video and text in addition to audio to provide news to a younger audience.
The idea of a non-commercial youth radio station has been debated in the country for at least two decades, but Marcus Stickley, who leads the project, said that the time for a traditional radio network has passed: “We live in an age where you can tell a story any way you want on one platform – the internet.”
He said that the online-only network had been designed with smartphones, tablets and computers in mind. “Some [stories] will be told in two types of media, some will be told in all four, or maybe more depending on where technology takes us.”
The broadcaster also stated in the website’s launch information that providing a full public broadcasting service for younger listeners would be prohibitively expensive – both in terms of transmission costs and content creation to fill a 24/7 schedule. But it also cited research showing those under 30 are increasingly turning away from traditional broadcast media. Another rationale given was that the multimedia website would treat stories in more depth than an online radio service could.
The website aims to differ markedly from the main Radio New Zealand website, firstly in having a themed structure: dedicating each month to a theme, and each week exploring a topic within the theme. The website debuted today with the theme of “Free”, with the first topic, “Money”.
Radio New Zealand CEO Paul Thompson emphasised the importance of providing high-quality, impartial content for a youth audience, delivered in a way they prefer to receive it. “This new service is about informing and empowering young people and providing them with journalism that cannot be found elsewhere,” he said, adding that the network was run by young people for young people. “This is a concept that will evolve over time but it’s a terrific way of bringing the values and quality of what we produce to an audience that we don’t serve well at present.”