Station History


The Otago Community Broadcasters’ Society is founded to further community broadcasting in Dunedin and Otago. Initially, the Society leases airtime from Radio One (Dunedin’s student station) and local station 4XD during hours when those stations had no other scheduled programmes.

NZ on Air Executive Director Ruth Harley formally opens access radio’s office in the Corso building, Moray Place, on 14 December.

On 15 December the first broadcast airs on Radio One – ‘Looking International’  hosted by Sue Culling


By August there are up to six hours of weekly broadcast via airtime leased from Radio One 91FM (Dunedin’s student station) and 4YC (900AM), supported by funding from NZ On Air.


The first OCBS Air Awards are held on 29th of May at the Glenroy Auditorium, Dunedin Town Hall, recognising the achievements and diversity of access radio’s volunteer broadcasters.


The station gains the frequency 1575 kHz AM along with the name Hills AM. Shifts to 24-hour-a-day broadcasts from the new premises at 375 King Edward St, South Dunedin.


The Hills Radio Trust is formed to govern the station, a role previously filled by the Otago Community Broadcasters’ Society. The Society remains in existence, becoming a support organisation for members, and organising fundraising and social events.


The station shifts into a purpose build premises in Dunedin Community House, 301 Moray Place.


Hills AM changes its name to Toroa Radio in anticipation of a future move to FM broadcasting.


The station gains the frequency 105.4FM and re-brands itself as Otago Access Radio (OAR 105.4FM) to better reflect its role as one of New Zealand’s 12 Community Access stations. The station continues to also broadcast on 1575AM and via live stream from its website


The station upgrades its On-Air and Pre-Recording studios following a significant fundraising effort.


The station wins the regional Trustpower Community Award for Arts and Culture. OAR establishes Youth Zone programming, offering free training and weekday airtime for young volunteers aged 8-22.


OAR FM experiences huge growth in downloads of podcasts as its audience embraces radio in the digital age. More than 80 local groups and individuals deliver over 3000 hours annually of locally produced content. Station wins Trustpower Community Award for Arts and Culture, for a second time.


February 2016, Otago Access Radio, The Otago Community Broadcasters Society, and past broadcasters celebrate the 25th year of Access Radio in Dunedin.

Hear audio from our Online Listening Post below


The station is awarded $20,000 under the GigCity Community Fund, supported by Chorus, to develop a Youth Zone app for multi-media content.


OAR FM becomes a signatory to the Dunedin City Council led Ōtepoti Youth Vision, committing to ensuring that young people are valued, accepted and empowered to lead fulfilled lives.

The station delivers programmes and podcasts in 13 different languages.


Local history programme ‘Heritage Matters’, supported by Southern Heritage Trust, wins Best Spoken/Information Programme in Any Language at NZ Radio Awards.


Through COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, the station introduces innovative ways for broadcasters to create content from home. Use of digital recorders and online conferencing becomes a new and permanent option for some.

OAR FM broadcaster Amal Abdullahi is named a Kiwibank Local Hero of the Year, recognised for her show/podcast Headscarves and Good Yarns, and for her work with with Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council.

Celebrating 25 Years Audio Banner