Russell Radio is a voluntary organisation which is based in Russell in the Bay
of Islands of New Zealand.
Located in the top half of the North Island Russell Radio has served locals and
offshore vessels since it was started by a small band of local fishermen shortly
after the war.
In 1951 Ritchie Blomfield came home with a 12 volt ex army radio telephone given to him by Fullers [the local tourist sightseeing operator] to enable the fleet of fishing boats operating in the area to stay in touch. Ritchie soon became the friendly voice over the air waves.
By 1979 Russell Radio became an Incorporated Society and a committee formed to draw up the society’s constitution. The radio service covered the wider bay area and changed its name to “The Bay of Islands Marine Radio Association”
Over the years equipment improved along with the level of services and has expanded to cover SSB for trans-Tasman and trans-Pacific yachts and localised VHF channel 63 coverage for the Bay of Islands. Overseas visiting yachts can call on 16 or 63 and directions will be provided for the right course for the "Q" berth and the Customs dock in the Opua Marina.
Ritchie's lifelong association with the sea and local knowledge of the Bay of Islands climatic intricacies made him a legend. Many vessels owe their safe homecoming to the quick action and wealth of local knowledge that Ritchie acquired over his many years in Russell. He was helped by Olive, his wife
and daughter Lynda.
The Russell community and boating fraternity mourned the sad loss of Ritchie Blomfield in March 2005 and after following in her fathers footsteps for a short while, the committee realised that it was too big an ask so the decision was made to move to new premises.
The committee were fortunate to secure a lease to new premises at 8 Church Street, Russell. The property is close to the wharf and centre of town and visitors are always welcome to pop in. Equipped with modern sophisticated equipment, Russell Radio's operations room is now no longer the massive array of aerials that it was at Ritchie home in York Street. A full time Station Manager has now been recruited. Stewart Irvine, a master mariner who moved to Russell in 2005 is now charged with the responsibility of recruiting more volunteers and raising the profile of Russell Radio.
The AGM and election of committee of the association is held in November each year. Russell Radio is a voluntary organisation, dependant on donations, membership fees and time given by dedicated volunteers who man the air waves 365 days a year. Your involvement in Russell Radio whether it is as a volunteer at the station or with financial assistance is greatly appreciated by all at Russell Radio. If you would like to assist in any way “pop in” for a chat with Stewart or phone 09 403 7218 anytime.