Catching up with….  Brian FM

We’ve been hearing about this all-music radio station, a bit new in Ashburton, so SPIRIT Magazine set out to track down whoever was behind it. Not as easy as it sounds. They’re all a bit camera-shy!

First station was where? Brian FM started in Blenheim, with a bunch of us at a friend’s place, having a few beers and fish & chips. The Whanganui station followed with more friends at a bar by the river… (beers there too) and Ashburton was the result of a BBQ (guess what we were drinking that day??). You see the theme here? Food & beer make great fuel for the best ideas.

How many stations are there now?  We have Brian FM in Marlborough (Blenheim, Picton, Havelock, Seddon and Kaikoura), Whanganui (Whanganui, Mt Ruapehu and Taihape), Oamaru, Alex & Cromwell and Ashburton. Each station is individual, and localised…

WHY? We love music, you love music… yet there was the same stuff on the radio all the time… guess what? We decided to fix that.

Why Brian FM Gary FM sounded stupid (laughs). All the stations have these huge corporate or regional names that try and describe their origin or promise, yet people are known by a name – so why not give a radio station a human name?

How many frequencies do you currently broadcast on?  Apparently quite a few 😉

Do you have more frequencies/stations still to roll out? No this is it. If you can pick us up on air, you are either privileged or being punished… depends on your take.

Who listens?  People with ears, imaginations, and tired of the same 100 songs going round and round and round every day… oh, and people who are tired of so many commercials – we are commercial free – so even our worst song is better than a stack of commercials in a row, right?

What’s the whole idea behind it? To play music, so many great songs were not being played on any station, or they were so repetitive that everyone gets tired of the great songs…. our goal, play what we feel like – and if others like it and listen – all the better. Seems we have quite a few people who share our music tastes.

What technology do you need to run a station?  We have all kinds of techy stuff, that seems to work. Goodness knows what most of it does, but we have it, because our engineers seemed to think it was required. For sure we have a big old pole with an aerial on it!

Is there actually a shed in downtown Ashburton where the music comes from??  You do NOT want to see it, not pretty – but we sure do broadcast from a crappy little building. Yup!

I’ve heard there’s a caravan on Wakanui beach/an old converted grain silo in Mount Somers you broadcast from? We can neither confirm nor deny that.

Are you the voice of Brian FM? Ha, nope.

Radio is the media for ugly people – easy to hide behind a microphone – Are you good-looking? HA! Nope…

Married? Kids? Your own teeth? Tattoos? Scars? Yes to some of those.

Why the mystery and intrigue?  It’s not about people, it’s about the music and the station. Who puts it together is really not important. There are a few of us, and we have a fun time picking songs over a few beers. Plus, it’s kinda fun to see some of the BS that gets created about us!

How far does 99.7 AshVegas frequency reach? 99.7 says all of Mid Canterbury, so can I listen in Methven, Rakaia?… You’ll pick it up from just outta Christchurch to Timaru and a little south to Waimate, Geraldine and Mayfield and gets as far north as Rolleston  – The tradies and stock agents tell us they love Brian FM @ 99.7 because they can drive all over Mid Canterbury and not have to change channels. Thanks to the latest FM digital techy stuff that gives us a real advantage over the other radio stations. We thought that was impressive.

I’m hearing all about you all over town, how are you getting word out about the station? People find Brian FM on their radio, and if they like us, they seem to tell others… kinda cool huh!

The key to your success?  Still looking for that… think the door is locked.

A long time ago, in another life, an ex-colleague (broadcasting) was a quiet collector of frequencies. I suspect he is involved? Who IS involved?   Well there’s a guy who plugs stuff together, another who says the words, a girl who makes sure we pay our power bill and taxes, and someone who picks up the beer cans… oh, and Chris, who looks after our great sponsors, that make it reality for us to keep broadcasting.

Will you grow up to be commercial station one day?   No chance… we are here to be different and “Play what we feel like” while being commercial free… changing to be like one of the other very successful stations (and they are great stations too) – That’s just not an option for us.

Future plans? Probably to install a home brew kit in our transmitter room… it’s about the right temperature for brewing in there.

So how are you funded. What keeps you on air?  We have some great sponsors who keep us playing the good music, but we have space for a few more, to enable us to buy some more music and other techy equipment.. email Chris at  We do have a limit of how many sponsors we can take, so hurry, while stocks last! (laugh)

I know that being elusive is your modus operandi; mystery and intrigue and all that, but give us something about Brian FM that no-one else knows.  Good question…… thinking now…..there are a few things… None of us can play any musical instruments, so we needed to play other people’s music – We are funding Brian FM privately, with help from our sponsors. There’s no big parent company or anything, it’s private people who love music.

– We are super stoked to be in Ashburton.

– We love Motorsport.

 – Smart people scare us.

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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.