Classic Hits started in Auckland in 1987 when 1ZM (also known at the time as 1251ZM) changed music format to play "classic hits" music and branding was changed to Classic Hits Twelve Fifty One. The ZM station that exists in Auckland today is a new station that was created in 1997 replacing Magic 91FM. In 1989 Auckland's Classic Hits moved to FM, becoming Classic Hits 97FM.
During the 1990s, Radio New Zealand split many of their traditional local stations which broadcast on AM and FM into two. The FM frequency was rebranded as Classic Hits FM, while the AM become Newstalk ZB. This saw the Classic Hits FM brand rolled out across New Zealand, all stations took on the uniform logo of a green diamond with the station name printed on the diamond, this logo was used by all Classic Hits stations until June 2011.
Many of the local stations adapted their traditional heritage name into the Classic Hits name, such as Bay City Radio in Napier, which become Classic Hits Bay City Radio. The station still incorporates the original name in its branding - now "Classic Hits 89.5 Bay City Radio". Classic Hits also took over many of the Community Radio Network (CRN) frequencies from smaller markets during the late 90s too, this was done in an effort to streamline the company's brands from a programming perspective. Doing this gave Classic Hits more frequencies and in turn, more broadcast area than any other station in New Zealand. Originally Classic Hits was live and local in every region throughout the day but during the evenings, overnight and on Sundays a network show from Auckland played instead.
In July 1996, the New Zealand Government sold off the commercial arm of Radio New Zealand which included among others, the Classic Hits brand. The Radio Network (TRN) is the current owner.
In 1998 Classic Hits was reduced to just 4 hours of local programming during the Breakfast show in all regions except Christchurch. Christchurch remained local, but as announcers left their shows were replaced with the network product. Today all of the Classic Hits stations play the same songs in the same sequence even when a local show is on the air, this means that there will be no double ups of songs between 9am and 5pm when Classic Hits runs the No Repeat Workday.
In 2001 many of the Classic Hits stations in each region were given a minor name-change to include the full local frequency, for example Auckland's Classic Hits 97FM became Classic Hits 97.4 including the entire frequency. Other examples are Waikato's Classic Hits ZHFM became Classic Hits 98.6 ZHFM and Christchurch's Classic Hits 98FM became Classic Hits 97.7.
In 2008 the heritage branding was dropped from the majority of the Classic Hits stations, stations such as Classic Hits 97.8 ZAFM in Manawatu is now known simply as Classic Hits 97.8 and Classic Hits 98.6 ZHFM in Waikato became Classic Hits 98.6. Stations not affected by this change are Classic Hits stations that broadcast on multiple frequencies such as Classic Hits Northland and Classic Hits Southern Lakes. In 2009 local branding in each market was changed to remove the point from the frequency for example Classic Hits 97.4 is now announced as Classic Hits 97-4.
In 2009 the network breakfast was introduced while all regions have their own local breakfast show this show is available for regions when the local announcer is unable to present the show and no one local can fill in. King Country did take this show permanently for a year before the station was eventually closed down.
In 2010 local breakfast shows at weekends were dropped in most markets. Prior to 2010 a networked weekend breakfast show was available for markets that did not have a local announcer available to present a local weekend breakfast show, this show was networked from Auckland. In 2010 this was replaced with a pre-recorded show from Christchurch on Saturdays and Wellington on Sunday, these shows were highlight shows from the local Christchurch and Wellington breakfast shows. At this point The Radio Network cut funding for local breakfast shows at weekends however some markets such as Southland remained local as the announcer chose to present the show without pay or the case of Dunedin the show is a highlights show of the local breakfast show.
In 2012 all weekday local breakfast shows were cut by one hour, now from 6am-9am rather than the previous 6-10am. Networked workday host from Auckland, Murray Lindsay, starts one hour earlier at 9am. Any local Saturday breakfast shows which were left (for example Manawatu, Southland) were also completely cut in 2012 and replaced with network product.
In July 2012 Classic Hits changed their traditional line up of Breakfast, Daytime, Drive and Night show programming to include an additional show between 4pm and 7pm. Murray Lindsay's Daytime show now ends at midday instead of 2pm and J.T's show now broadcasts between 12pm and 4pm. The additional show is presented by former Classic Hits 97.7 Christchurch presenters Jason Gunn and Dave Fitzgerald, unlike the rest of the Classic Hits network programming this show is broadcast from the Classic Hits Christchurch studios.
The Original Classic Hits 1251 Logo from 1987
The Classic Hits 97FM Logo used in 1989
Auckland's Classic Hits 97FM logo used from 1992 to 2001. Other stations that were rebranded as Classic Hits adopted their own local version of this logo.
Logo used for Classic Hits 97.4 Auckland between 2001 and 2011, branding now includes the entire frequency for all regions.
Logo used for Classic Hits 97.4 Auckland from 2011 onwards, all regions changed their logos at this time.
The original nationwide Classic Hits logo used for national branding of Classic Hits used between 1993 and 1998
The Classic Hits logo used between 1998 and 2011 for national branding of Classic Hits.
The Classic Hits logo used nationally from 2011 onwards.
Read more about this topic: Classic Hits FM
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