Radio Quake: Broadcasting in Post-Quake Christchurch
The Civil Defense understanding of the role of radio in disaster tends to focus on its value in providing essential information during and after the event. However this role is compromised when a station’s premises are destroyed, or rendered inaccessible by official cordons. The Radio Quake study examines how radio stations in Christchurch managed to resume broadcasting in the aftermath of the earthquake of February 22, 2011. In New Zealand’s heavily networked and commercialised radio environment there is a significant disparity between networked and independent stations’ broadcast commitments and resourcing. All Christchurch radio broadcasters were forced to improvise new locations, complex technical workarounds, and responsive styles of broadcasting after the February 22 earthquake, but the need to restore, or maintain, a full on air presence after the earthquake, rested entirely on often financially tenuous, locally owned and staffed independent radio: student, Iwi, community access, and local commercial stations. This paper will explore the resourcefulness and resilience of broadcasters riding out the aftershocks in hotels, motels, bedrooms, and a horse truck, using digital technologies in new ways to reimagine the practice of radio in Christchurch.