Friday, 13 October 2017

Radio Dunedin: Film Review

Radio Dunedin: Film Review

Director: Grant Findlay

A short but sweet hyper-local slice of Kiwi history, Radio Dunedin is Grant Findlay's paean ode to New Zealand's oldest radio station and the staff within.
Radio Dunedin: Film Review

Founded in 1922 by volunteer announcers and with a definite place within the community, Radio Dunedin's place in the South Island is undeniable.
As anyone who's ever had any interaction with community radio knows, there's nothing to beat the local ethos and attitude.

Interestingly, Findlay's documentary has a low key charm as it begins with a man simply walking down a corridor, making a packet coffee and firing up the microphone.
As the sun rises over Dunedin's purple sky, the familiar feel of what radio means to so many starts to be explored by Findlay.

Wisely choosing to let the volunteers do the talking and give the insights into being there, Findlay captures the essence of being part of local radio.

There are a few moments when volunteers let loose about the Auckland-centric nature of the industry and it feels a little bitter early on, but Findlay wisely layers that in early so that the impact of the loss of Radio Dunedin's FM frequency and the centralisation of corporate bigwig Mediaworks can come into sharp focus at the end.
Radio Dunedin: Film Review

Radio Dunedin: Film ReviewArchive audio mixes well with honesty and there is a feeling that Radio Dunedin soon becomes a piece about where the industry's heading as a whole. Already globally centralisation has occurred with big groups swallowing up local stations and there's a pervading sense in Findlay's briskly paced piece that Radio Dunedin is fighting against the tide.

But as the little scrapper station that could, and with former Prime Minister Sir John Key espousing why he chose to stay a regular contributor, the loyalty speaks volumes from this honest and reflective piece.

It may potentially fail to garner as much attention outside of the South Island which is a shame for Findlay's efforts, but there's a distinct feeling that what's been captured here is very really a snapshot of the industry and the shape it's ending up in.

It's hard to deny the love for Radio Dunedin within the community, and Findlay's created a document that perhaps will find its home in media schools as well - with a bittersweet ending, Radio Dunedin is worth a tune in for anyone who's ever remotely been interested in the media or the faces and attitudes that go into making sure community radio survives as corporate conglomerates and media mergers continue to surface and threaten to forever change the landscape.


  1. With all the hype and coverage this doco has recieved I only hope many will get a chance to view it. Along with many others I spent some time in with Radio Dunedin and am a part of its history but looks as though I will not be able to share in the movies viewing audience as I neither live in Dunedin or Auckland.

    1. We are working on it!! As we have no film distributor it's a case of me personally ringing theatres to see if they'll play it. The big Reading type cinemas wont play it as it's not from a big film studio. It's a tough road but we'll get there :)