An inside chat with Raglan Community Radio

Over these colder months some of our local charities, organisations and community groups will be sharing their stories, their history and their aspirations. We are particularly keen to uncover the wealth of volunteering opportunities in our small town. Some of you may not know about these EPIC groups of people that bring so much colour, fun and in many cases safety to our lives.

To get the series started we first met with Raglan Community Radio station manager Aaron Mooar:

Q: What is the best thing about being the manager of a vast group of diverse volunteers at RCRadio? 

Aaron: You never know what’s going to happen next, and I mean that in a good way – every show is an example. 

Q: What examples have you got? 

Aaron: There have been many examples of a show where I have been surprised about what people have created. I remember people dancing in the studio to the Mexican Cookies show a few years ago. 

Q: What tends to go wrong?

Aaron: Things go wrong but I don’t dwell on them, I just fix them – we are a shoestring operation and there are problems all the time, but that’s just part of the deal and I don’t see them as major problems. 

Q: How long have you been involved with the radio station and what drew you to it?

Aaron: I first got involved twenty years ago as a volunteer and there was something I wanted to hear and I realised that the only way it would get played was if I went in and played it, and that’s literally how I got involved. 

Q: What was your show called?

Aaron: It was an underground news show called ‘Under the Radar’, and after a few months of playing reports and interviews from overseas I realised there were people within New Zealand doing the same sort of work but no one was interviewing them at all, so I started to do that myself – that’s when I discovered I really liked doing interviews. Having this outlet gave my friends and family a bit of a break because I was always banging on about these issues to them up to that point

Q: What are some of the highlights of managing this group of volunteers?

Aaron: The biggest highlight for me was being involved in the community; when I was younger I didn’t realise that would mean something to me, but it does. 

Q: Were elders in your life active members of your communities growing up?

Aaron: Dad was a school principal and coached sport so yes, but my parents were also people who, how do I say this, they were empowered, they were proactive people. 

Q: How many volunteers do you currently manage? 

Aaron: 35 but it changes week to week 

Q: I heard you had a flurry of extra DJs over the summer; how many volunteers were you managing at that time? 

Aaron: The most we had at one point was 40. We had ten people arrive completely new to the station in two months and that kept me very busy training them up! 

Q: What technical kit is the hardest for new volunteer DJs to learn?

Aaron: DJing is kind of easy now that the music just sits on a computer; the thing that people struggle with now is uploading podcasts and especially promoting their shows online. 

Q: Are all of the volunteers at RCR also DJs? 

Aaron: Not always, but usually they are. Sometimes people volunteer on the committee.

Q: Who is your favourite DJ/Show? And why? 

Aaron: There’s no way I am going to say a favourite! I’m not going there! It’s not my job to have a favourite. In actual fact what I like personally is irrelevant. Having a diverse range of DJs is far more important.

Q: What about managing volunteers? Is that challenging? 

Aaron: It’s weird but if I have faith that things are going to go well they usually do. It’s not like everything is perfect and we still have a set of rules if we need them, but volunteering at a radio station should be fun so it shouldn’t be too hard to get it right. I’ve seen people in the past treat volunteers with a lot of suspicion and somehow that led to all sorts of problems, including a big loss of volunteers, which in turn led to the organisation almost closing down.   

Q: What were the major takeaways from that experience for the DJs and committee? 

Aaron: If you give volunteers the freedom to do what they want you usually are rewarded with good stuff. Before I had this job, the station had a topsy turvy history. There were regular periodic disasters, but if you believe things are going to go well they mostly do. 

Q: Did you have a history with working in media and/or broadcasting before you started in this role?

Aaron: No, not even an interest in being on the radio when I was young – my twenty year old self will be very surprised! I had done a little bit of filmmaking at Uni is about all. 

Q: Would you want to do more film making? Or other media? What inspires you now? 

Aaron: In some ways the type of media isn’t the point, it’s the ‘what is being said’ that’s the point. If you have something to say, the medium doesn’t matter that much, but filmmaking is very time consuming which is a bit off-putting. 

Q: What do you think it’s important to speak about these days?

Aaron: I started off as the guy that was confronting people about issues, but now that everyone seems to be doing that I feel it is more important that we find ways to understand each other.

Q: Do you volunteer your time on other community projects or organisations? 

Aaron: I volunteered with the kids’ soccer club for 11 years and was involved with the Film Festival a long time ago, and was involved at the Radio Station as a volunteer for a long time as well. 

Q: Do you have any tips for others regarding being part of a charity? Or being on a committee? 

Aaron: I wish I had had some guidance about how to be on a committee when I started.

Q: What would have been helpful to know? 

Aaron: Understanding how proper committee structures help avoid conflict, but if that doesn’t work, knowing how to do actual conflict resolution would have been good. Basically it would be useful to have all this experience before I startfrfted!

Q: What is the hardest part of managing volunteers?

Aaron: Getting your expectations right. If you expect too much from your volunteers you can drive yourself crazy – and drive them away. As I said before if you really believe they’re going to be a problem then you’ll see problems everywhere and you’ll drive them away that way as well. 

Q: How can we, the community, support you all at RCR?

Aaron: If you hear something you like don’t be shy in letting the DJ know, a little bit of positive feedback can keep us going for ages!  One of our crew was over the moon the other day because we walked out of the studio after his show and met someone on the street who wanted to tell him they liked what he jhlllowas doing. 

Aaron: Engage with our station; we have 5 media streams:


Social media



Written articles – sometimes these end up with you guys at the Chronicle – and they are on our website too. 

We have a ‘give a little’ link on the website which you are all welcome to use.

The BEST WAY to help the station is by joining our team of DJs / podcasters – EVERYONE is welcome, no experience necessary. 

Q: It’s the 30th anniversary of the station this year; does the committee have plans to celebrate in any way? 

Aaron: Our 30th Anniversary is on the 5th November and we plan to do something noisy. 

Q: Anything else you would like to tell us about? 

Aaron: We are the longest running independent community radio station IN THE COUNTRY; we receive no funding from the Government. Our philosophy is: if it has anything to do with Raglan we love it.

Q: Who do you love interviewing? 

Aaron: I like interviewing 2,3, or even 4 people at a time, and I love having bands in the studio if we can fit them in. 

Q: Do you have go-to interview questions?

Aaron: It’s hard not to when you’re interviewing the 100th band. The challenge is to change it up a bit. Mostly though, I try to have a conversation and just let it flow. 

Q: If you had $100,000.00 to spend on the radio station what would you buy? 

Aaron: More staff. I would have a podcast manager, broadcast from more events, do the playlisting better, and do more journalism – and that would just be a good start. There are so many things that we do ‘a little bit of’ and if we had that money we could do them really well. But we are actually doing really well given our resources. 

Q Three of your top tracks please: 

Aaron: I am only going to give Raglan tracks of course: 

1. Succour: Team Squad

2. Green Tigers: Casual Healing 

3. Muroki: Time Zones 

I’m interviewing Muroki on Friday, and just getting into his new EP now.  (DID THIS TODAY!)

Thanks so much Aaron! This gives us such insight into the ‘backstage’ of the radio station. I personally love the diversity of the shows; I used to love it when my car radio would pick up the RCR signal 98.1 when I drove over the divvy after my Hamilton commute. 

So many of us have the station dialled to 98.1. I know a lot of farmers have it dialled in their tractors, and lots of shops do too! 

Keep supporting this brilliant community resource, and if you’ve always wanted to get involved there you go! You just got an invite… 

by Katie Lowes

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