Radio Sport NZ culled amid Covid-19 sport ‘lockdown’

Radio Sport NZ culled amid Covid-19 sport 'lockdown'
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Radio Sport New Zealand (NZ) operates in an industry of content. So while health and safety are paramount, Radio Sport NZ has been culled amid the worldwide Covid-19 sport ‘lockdown’.

A sign of the times, one might say. A period of self-isolation for sportspeople that has taken a victim of a different type. An organization, a radio channel and a group of sports fans all now on furlough (until further notice). Indefinitely closed, while the industry reacts to the reduction in sports available to cover.

With stakeholders of major sports around the world starting to count the costs of postponement or cancelled leagues, competitions, and tournaments, administrators of related businesses are making unforeseen decisions. Radio broadcasters, newspapers and magazines – even this webpage – are needing to ‘make up’ for a lack of content.

Now, Radio Sport NZ are the biggest associated business affected directly by the Coronavirus.

Radio Sport NZ culled amid Covid-19 sport ‘lockdown’

The NZME operated station is now closed. The staff were more than likely informed of the decision only hours before the frequency was relinquished to a more sustainable news talk’ format. In an official statement, NZME stated ‘Today, NZME has made the incredibly difficult decision to stop broadcasting Radio Sport from 1pm (30 March 2020).

‘Radio Sport frequencies will now carry Newstalk ZB programming indefinitely’.

The harsh reality found listeners stunned in the realization that broadcast media was a casualty of the times. Touching statements on social media soon found many current and onetime listeners, saddened by the judgment.

Some who would recall the solace of a transistor radio broadcasting afternoons of summer cricket. Memories of early morning Tests transmitted across the world from South Africa – however, the age of radio has change in the modern world. Yes, followers still enjoy tuning in for their workday yet, more and more of the broadcast content was reliant on reaction to sports events. Evidently, remove that content……what else is there?

No content equals reduced value for broadcast media

Radio Sport NZ are not the only victim of the lack of content. Sports news segments are low on content, with subverted Covid-19 updates on the latest contest to be postponed or cancelled, has become too common.

Television shows like The Crowd Goes Wild, SkySports News and Rugby Nation have ceased to broadcast. Some have been reduced to replays [CGW] while with little news, SSN had less value to add so as of the time of publishing, has stopped being produced. Rugby Nation was entirely based on highlights of the Super Rugby competition – thus, remove the competition, and popular broadcaster Tony Johnson’s contract was soon revoked.

Others that cover rugby, league, motorsport, and golf, are all in question. The contract nature of the broadcasters was solely reliant on the sport, so an unfortunate casualty. The production teams will also be affected unless their labour can be resourced elsewhere.

For Radio Sport NZ hosts of the morning, noon, drivetime slots are now all without programs to fill. Only a small portion can find other ways to contribute, so redundant, their employment contracts might now be the only contributor to their family’s income. Some will find that NZ Government stimulus packages include them but, the emotional impact will show many how tentative their roles were.

The advertising spend has been affected directly by Covid-19, amongst other contributing factors.

2020 will be remembered for a distinct lack of Sport

In early 2020, Radio Sport decided not to renew its broadcasting contract with New Zealand Cricket. That meant that as the Coronavirus ended the Chappell-Hadlee series prematurely, that will be the final time cricket is broadcast on free-to-air radio in New Zealand [even if the Covid-19 crisis had not contributed directly to the station being culled].

Include the postponement, suspension or cancelation of so much sport, it will make for a memorable year. The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were the biggest sport to react to Covid. Postponing the summer games for 12 months, it only leaves Football in Belarus or eSports to cover.

No content equals reduced value. NZME has now succumbed to push the mute button for Radio Sport NZ. Whether this begins a domino effect in Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. All those markets will react similarly to NZME – a corporate decision, not considering the emotive relationship listeners have. A sad reaction yet, one that is inexplicably relative to the Coronavirus pandemic, in ways many could hardly have imagined.


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