Paradise found

It’s unlike any paradise you’ve ever seen – four walls of concrete, the rooms blackened out with curtains and foam padding, and in mid-February, little to be seen of the actual summer vista that lies outside.

But inside the lower quarters of a Tauranga home are the makings of one man’s radio paradise, a community station that director David Williams says fills a gap that is lacking on our airwaves.

Paradise 105.4FM has been a longtime goal of David’s and his collective friends group in Wellington, when they noticed there was nothing in New Zealand to cater for the type of music they loved and listened to.

“We thought it was about time someone did something about that.”

Launched on Valentine’s Day, Paradise FM caters for men and women, aged 35-65, who are seeking an alternative to mainstream radio play.

“We play a whole mix of genres, starting with Americana and under that banner comes alternative country, folk, reggae, blues, plus we also feature a lot of NZ music and contemporary tracks from rock albums, with an additional emphasis on Irish and Scottish music.

“Further down the road, we’d love to have live acts in the studio too, playing their music and coming in for a chat about their work.”

Then there’s the comedy factor – hosts are all witty in their own right, with quips a-plenty at their fingertips. The humour is evident already, as Life + Style tries to pull all personalities into one room, a task that frequently saw the crew in fits of laughter.

It’s also David and co-director John Stephens’ goal to become a community focused entity, as Tauranga currently has no community radio.

“Everything, bar one local show, is based in Auckland, so I think we have a real advantage having feet on the ground here in Tauranga,” says David.

“We see community radio as a huge opportunity to connect with locals, chatting with them about their events or supporting non-for-profit groups in the area.”

To complement David’s drive for community, passionate locals are currently at the heart of Paradise. While David has no radio experience – his background is in hospitality – the radio is a real passion project and has already garnered a small group together to support his venture.

“We’re doing a lot of this with volunteer labour,” he explains. “But the long term is to broaden our horizons, and ensure longevity and support for our staff.”

The long-term plan is to move to a more visible site and David is optimistic it won’t be long before they explore other areas as the station grows.

“We’re for the people. We will be dedicating about half of all programming to community radio – involving community groups, getting out there amongst the people and talking to everyone from school fairs to major concerts. It’s what the Bay of Plenty needs.”