New Zealand's National Radio is together with Concert FM the antipodean answer to the BBC. National Radio is an attempt to copy the BBC's Radio 4, which unfortunately doesn't work out very well for a variety of reasons.

It has been on the air as a public broadcaster since 1925 and is a mainly speech - based, government funded 24 hour station, directed at the "thinking" New Zealander, with a mixed bag of news, documentaries, art and a bit of comedy.

Many of the better features are imported from Radio 4, like the brillant "Just a minute" or "I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue" which improves the overall quality.

The current affairs programs suffer from one major problem: In a country with a smaller poulation than South London of who than more than one third are living in the Auckland area, there just are no news. Well, almost none. So you have to take the few scraps and balloon them up, so a story about a farmer falling of his tractor ends up being a 20 min feature incorporating interviews with experts in tractor safety, the farmer's wife, dad and neighbour.

This will then be repeated hourly in the news bulletin.

Fortunately the station has two gifted presenters, namely Kim Hill and Linda Clark, both being excellent journalists, which makes it a bit easier to listen to. Another good thing is the closeness of the editors to the political establishment which makes it the only station where you'll hear the Prime Minister interviewed daily (and subsequently ripped apart in mid-air), especially entertaining during the recent elections.

Unfortunately there is no live stream over the net, much to the chagrin of all expat kiwis.

All in all a bit of a hit and miss station, but this being New Zealand this is all there is, so I guess we have to live with it and stop complaining.

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