PAPEETE, Tahiti — For more than 40 years, the Tahitian airwaves have vibrated to the sound of Radio 1. The station started as Radio Tahiti Maintenant in 1981 at a time when RFO, the ancestor of French state broadcaster La 1ère Polynésie, had a monopoly.
“We were the first independent FM station in Tahiti,” says general manager Sonia Aline of the station’s humble beginnings. “We installed our turntables and mixing desk on a door we put on trestles.” Aline has since guided the professionalization of a station that started as an association.
With five frequencies in Tahiti, Moorea and the Leeward Islands, Radio 1 is now a major broadcaster in French Polynesia — an overseas collectivity of France — and recognized as much for its local roots as for its influence throughout the Pacific Ocean. “Even if you’ve never visited Tahiti, you’ll get your fill of sunshine by listening to us!” says Aline.
Among Radio 1’s technical high points are the arrival of advertising, the installation of a transmitter on the nearby island of Moorea and the beginning of its strong partnership with French broadcaster Europe 1. In 1986, the station started carrying Europe 1’s programs via satellite. It’s a partnership still in progress today.
“We broadcast the French national news, media news and sports news at 12-hour intervals — because we ‘dress’ them up like Radio 1, listeners are not disoriented,” explains Aline. In 1987, the station recruited presenters from NRJ and Kiss FM to work on these programs.
Even if you’ve never visited Tahiti, you’ll get your fill of sunshine by listening to us!Sonia Aline, General Manager, Radio 1
Rising from the ashes of tragedy
Aline deeply felt the station’s tragic event in 1988 — a fire in the Fare Ute neighborhood of Papeete, the French Polynesian capital, destroyed its premises.
“For a month, we could no longer produce programs. But thanks to the generosity of listeners and the material help of colleagues, the station was able to rise from its ashes!”
In 1992, Radio 1 became part of a family with the launch of sister station Tiare FM. The station was originally FM 100, becoming Radio Tiare — named after the emblematic Tahitian plant — before adopting its current name.
It offers 80% of music from Polynesia and programs devoted to cooking, the environment and even Chinese horoscopes. The young 30-year-old currently broadcasts on six frequencies in Tahiti, Moorea and the Leeward Islands, and organizes the annual Tiare Music Awards that celebrates Polynesian music. Listeners around the world can discover Tiare FM on www.tiarefm.pf.
The author contributes to RedTech’s sister publication La Lettre Pro.