Arabic Journalist Finds New Voice

Amjed Al-Saad has found a new life and a new way to celebrate his culture and language, more than 15,000km from his former home.

Mr Al-Saad hosts new radio show and podcast NZ Arabic on OAR FM Dunedin.

In his former role as a television journalist in Iraq, he faced regular death threats and even assassination attempts from those seeking to suppress stories about financial corruption cases, terrorism links and human rights abuses.

Forced to leave the country for their safety, Mr Al-Saad and his family resettled in Dunedin in April last year following eight years in Indonesia, under the protection of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees.

Mr Al-Saad said he had to find a new way to communicate with the Arab community in Dunedin.

“It is New Zealand that gave us life and the future again after the wars burned our homes and schools in our Arab countries.

“On the radio show, I am keen to present Arabic music and promote Arab New Zealanders who have achieved success in terms of business and integration here, as well as preserving the national identity of the Arab community through the Arabic language and the political and economic news circulating in our Arab homeland.”

NZ Arabic airs on 105.4FM and 1575AM on Thursdays at 7pm.


Better Access to Radio

OAR FM’s move to new premises in October 2023 has improved the experience of creating radio shows and podcasts for people with disabilities.

Starting with a clean slate when designing the layout at 43 Princes Street, station staff prioritised accessibility to studios, consoles and public spaces. Driven by the need to remove barriers to participation, improvements ranged from better accommodating the needs of wheelchair users to considering the technical aspects of operating updated digital broadcasting equipment.

Station Manager Lesley Paris said the feedback staff had received about the changes to date had been pleasing.

“As access media, we need to take that responsibility seriously. It’s been great to see how well our volunteer broadcasters have adapted to the more open space and other improvements.”

OAR FM was keen to build further on programming by, for and about people from a wide range of life experiences, including those living with disabilities or managing health conditions.

“We’d love to start a conversation with any individual or group wanting to share their stories. Making your own shows and podcasts is a pretty rewarding experience.”

Writing and Publishing Explored

A long-standing Dunedin radio programme with a literary focus has a new presenter.

Local writer Beverly Martens has stepped up to the mic on monthly OAR FM show Write On, which is presented on behalf of the Otago Southland branch of the New Zealand Society of Authors and supported by University Book Shop.

Former host and local crime writer Vanda Symon fronted the programme for 18 years. She was one of Ms Marten’s first guests in last September’s edition, while this month’s show featured conversations with UBS Emerging Writer in Residence Dr April-Rose Geers and 2023 Robert Burns Fellow Kathryn van Beek.

Ms Martens said that highlighting the work of local writers would remain the programme’s focus but she was also interested in exploring wider issues around publishing.

“Getting a creative work published is a phenomenal process. It takes a long time and you’re often doing in on your own. How do you keep the motivation up?”

The mix of creative skills, marketing skills and crowd-funding knowledge often required when “selling” a project were fertile ground for discussion, she said.

Future editions of Write On would also include a bulletin of literary news and upcoming Dunedin events.

Write On airs on 105.4FM and 1575AM on the second Wednesday of each month at 12pm, and is replayed the following Sunday at 1pm.


Rockabilly Roundup Radio

After a wide-ranging journey around the rock and roll globe, OAR FM radio host Warren Voight is embarking on a further trip.

For the past 12 years, Mr Voight has explored the history of rock music in his programme and podcast 360 Degrees ’Round Wazrock.

New show 360 Rockabilly Roundup hones in on the genre he loves the most.

“Rockabilly is not widely known in these parts but we can change that,” he said.

“I’m as excited as anything to get some of this great music out there.”

Rockabilly is an early style of rock and roll music. It dates back to the early 1950s in the United States, especially the South. It blends the sound of Western musical styles, such as country, with rhythm and blues, leading to what is considered classic rock and roll.

“A whole lifestyle has developed around rockabilly in the past 50 years, particularly around the revival scene that has emerged since the 1970s.

“This show will feature everyone from the earliest stars and lesser-knowns to the contemporary acts that have been part of that revival.”

A new episode of 360 Rockabilly Roundup airs on 105.4FM and 1575AM every second Saturday at 3pm and is replayed at the same time the following Saturday.


Online Dunedin Group Now On Air

Popular Facebook group What’s News Dunedin? now has a radio platform for conversations about local issues.

An OAR FM programme of the same name launches tomorrow, hosted by Dunedin man Richard Knights.

Mr Knights started the What’s New Dunedin? online group in 2020. Disillusioned with the levels of “anger and vitriol” on other online forums, he decided to establish an alternative group that held kindness, respect and being factual as requirements of membership.

Within just one week, the group had one thousand members. Earlier this month, that number had risen to more than 12,000.

“People see the group as a safe place to hold their opinions and have conversations,” he said.

“I’ve seen opinions change on the page, and that’s something you don’t often see on Social Media.”

The radio show and podcast would complement the online group, featuring discussion on issues that had sparked the most interest over the preceding week.

Mr Knights would also be interviewing “superstars” from the Dunedin community, people he had come to know of through the online platform.

“We’ll get their take on some of the local stories but also get under the hood of what they’re doing and why they’re doing it.

“There are lots of people in this city doing wonderful things. Let’s keep pushing for change and make it even better.”


Radio Show Shares Pakistan Culture

A group of like-minded Pakistanis with a belief in the power of giving back to the community have launched a new programme and podcast on OAR FM.

Dunedin Pakistan Society hosts Salam Pakistan, an hour of conversation and music.

The Society was formed in May this year with a mission to foster collective resilience between the New Zealand and Pakistan communities by promoting social and community services.

Salam Pakistan host Dr Ayesha Qureshi said the radio show and podcast was a unique opportunity for the Pakistan diaspora in Dunedin to share their culture, language, cuisine, music and stories of their settlement in New Zealand.

“It will also be an opportunity to connect with Pakistani professionals, students and migrants from different fields of life, living in different regions of New Zealand.”

Programmes such as Salam Pakistan provided a strong sense of identity and assist with social integration, she said.

“Because such first-nation programmes preserve culture and national origins, it makes it easier for new arrivals to settle, knowing that they’re not all alone, strangers in a new world.”


Radio Show Promotes Peace

What would world peace look like?

The question of how we might work together towards achieving a world without war is the subject of Starfishing for Peace, a new programme and podcast on OAR FM hosted by Dunedin woman Kirsteen McLay.

The programme’s title is shared with a local group that meets monthly in the Matheson Room at Knox Church to discuss promotion of peace through projects and activities.

Ms McLay is also a co-founder of The Starfish Collective, a registered charity established in 2021 with the aim to help refugees under the Government’s community organisation refugee sponsorship (CORS) pilot.

The Collective is hoping to welcome two Syrian families to Dunedin under the scheme later this year.

Ms McLay said that teaching and humanitarian work in Japan and Vietnam had sown the seeds for her Dunedin-based charitable work.

“Vietnam, especially, opened my eyes to war and the long-term effects of conflicts on the culture and psyche of the people, as well as the terrible long-term environmental damage chemical warfare can cause.

“It also opened me up to thinking and seeing outside of the box of my own cultural and geographical background.”

The radio show would encourage listeners to “feel they can do something active” in the face of conflict at a local, national or international level.


Inspiring Stories of Brain Injury Recovery

A brain injury occurs every 15 minutes in New Zealand, through trauma or through medical events such as stroke, aneurysm and infection.

The Brain Injury Association (BIA) is the only independent community-based organisation available to support individuals and families on the road to recovery, listening to the needs and concerns of those affected by brain injury and their larger support network.

New OAR FM radio show and podcast Brain Waves, presented by BIA Otago manager Jane Butterfield, is offering inspiration and information in equal measure.

The programme features first-hand accounts of people in recovery from brain injury.

Ms Butterfield said Brain Waves added to BIA’s library of existing client stories, some of which had been recorded in written form.

“We feel that sharing these stories helps other people understand the journey that someone with a brain injury is going through.”

A brain injury may affect a person physically and emotionally, as well as impacting cognition, memory, sensory perception, personality and the ability to communicate. 

 “The thing that all these stories have in common is that they are inspiring.

“You meet people who don’t let anything hold them back. That can make you feel pretty positive about life.”


Creatures Featured

A hospital visit is rarely much fun, except perhaps when it offers an opportunity for others to learn about how rare and special you are.

OAR FM’s OARsome Morning Show listeners get a regular update on patient files on Creature Feature, a four-weekly conversation with Wildlife Hospital Dunedin manager Jordana Whyte.

The hospital is a veterinary facility specialising exclusively in the treatment of New Zealand’s native species. Services include receiving sick and injured animals, diagnosis and triage, treatment, hospitalisation and recovery, and working to ensure successful rehabilitation and release back to the native environment.

Each edition of Creature Feature tells the story of one patient’s visit, highlighting the causes of illnesses and injuries and the pathway back to good health.

The radio spot also offers insight into each creature’s natural habitat and unique characteristics, any factors placing stress on the species, and the ways in which people can support recovery of threatened populations.

Up-close-and-personal experiences with rare and endangered species can produce some amusing anecdotes, from escape attempts to loud arguments and other stroppy encounters, so there are usually a few laughs included.


Dunedin Pride On Air


Dunedin Pride is using radio and podcasts to elevate the voices of people in the local rainbow community.

OAR FM show Pride On Air is co-hosted by the volunteer-run organisation’s chairperson Max Wolfgram and committee member Shayla Kara.

Shayla said the goal was for Dunedin Pride to be more present in the community than it has been in the past.

“We’ve got to cover all the bases. We have posters, we have the website, we have Social Media. Now, we’re on air.”

The programme features profiles of Dunedin Pride committee members, promotes local events and initiatives for the queer community, and reports on Pride-related news.

Next month sees a busy programme of events for Dunedin Pride Month, and a collaboration with Dunedin Fringe Festival. From 12 to 26 March, the Community Gallery at 26 Princes St will transform into the Dunedin Pride X Fringe Hub.

Pride Night events are held on the final Friday of each month and a Dunedin Pride Youth Ball is planned for July. An Open Book Group has recently been formed, and several other new clubs are in their planning stages.

Pride On Air is broadcast every second Thursday at 5pm on OAR 105.4FM and 1575AM. Podcasts are available from, Google podcasts and Apple podcasts.