Tauranga Welcomes You!

Tauranga Welcomes You!

Aucklanders & Other Kiwis Blog

Radio Royalty, Grant Hislop, on New Beginnings in Tauranga
28 November 2017
Radio Royalty, Grant Hislop, on New Beginnings in Tauranga

Photo credit: Erin McKenzie, www.stoppress.co.nz

After making a name for himself as one of New Zealand’s leading influencers in the music industry, radio legend, Grant Hislop, is back in the Bay.

Grant, whose family moved to Tauranga in the 1980s, is best known for founding radio stations The Rock, Coastline FM and Kiwi FM. He ran both ZM and Hauraki, bought Rip It Up and Groove Guide magazines and managed Kiwi bands like Goodshirt, Pluto and Opshop.

His relationship with Auckland was a long and successful one, but in 2017 Grant and the big smoke decided it was time to part ways. Grant moved down to Tauranga where, since August 2017, he has been busy establishing The Station, a radio station with a conscious heart, operating out of Vinyl Destination on Devonport Road. Let’s hear from Grant on how this endeavour is his most exciting one yet.

Grant, can you tell us about launching Coastline FM in Tauranga at 21 years old?

It was a landmark in my life that I’m really proud of, despite its accidental origins. I had been the Creative Director in the launch team of Lakecity 96 FM in Rotorua and Kiss FM in Taupo and a group of us had decided that Tauranga was the next stop.

It was regarded as the last market ‘untouched’ by private radio and the most lucrative regional market. I was the youngest in the team and the first to resign from my position to embark on our new venture. For various reasons the others decided not to go ahead, so myself and the technician, Vern Talbot, ended up ‘holding the baby’. I secured some money then ordered a transmitter from Italy for $13,000. I had to step up and certainly learnt some lessons! The station was a real triumph and gave me faith that I could do whatever I set my mind to.

What took you to Auckland?

I had said I’d never live in Auckland, but this all changed 20 years ago while passing through town on my way to the USA. I was all set to follow my passion for making music and had enrolled in an American audio producer school when I got invited to what I thought was a social lunch. I walked away with an amazing job offer to run ZM and Hauraki radio networks and I couldn't resist. 

Living in Auckland was a great experience for me and the bits that didn’t work weren’t Auckland’s fault! I believe you make the place, not the other way around.

What brought you back to Tauranga?

Having had a tough couple of years, I was tired of the scene in Auckland. I knew my time in the city was up and I was very open as to what was next. My ideas about the future were fluid and not geographically dependent.

Ending up in Tauranga was accidental. My ex-partner and daughter moved here twelve months ago; I was passing through, dropping my daughter home one day when it dawned on me how much I love this place and how good is has been to me. No exaggeration – I pulled to the side of the road and searched ‘businesses for sale’ on Trademe. The first listing that appeared was a radio station: if that’s not a sign, I don’t know what is!

Getting the opportunity to get a full power FM license in such a great market is beyond rare, so returning here was a no brainer!

The Station is a unique approach to mainstream media with both traditional and new media elements. From day one, The Station has had a raft of tools to build our tribe: it has a physical space - Vinyl Destination (a store/cafe/performance space/studio), FM radio, digital radio, social media and soon television with both linear and on demand components. 

The Station stands for building a future and I have a vision for building stronger content across the board. The unparalleled success of national radio proves there is a market for intelligent content. 

You have talked elswhere about embarking on a self-discovery journey in recent years.  How does that play into what you are doing now?

I’m always re-evaluating and coming up with ideas, but I’d lost myself and was no longer focusing on what’s important. A friend introduced me to meditation and that was the start of a new journey, one I’m very much at the beginning of and am excited about.  

By moving to the beach, I became more present and conscious. I was surprised how simple it was and how much common sense was involved. I figured if I could change my views and my ways then so could others. I decided to mainstream some of these ideas, which is how Monarch came about. Monarch is a new media company I am developing with the purpose of sharing good music, good information and good intentions.

I don’t just love music, I love people’s talent. When I started Coastline I knew that it would work and I had the same feeling when I started the Rock. I have that feeling now but this time there is a greater purpose.

How has Tauranga changed in the years since you left?

Tauranga has always represented possibilities and abundance, but it has scaled up which presents a new set of opportunities and challenges. The population and its skill base is far more diverse than ever before. Once upon a time, people would leave Tauranga to makes one’s mark – now the opposite is true.

Downtown is in a rejuvenation phase and the sooner that evolves the better. I believe there is an opportunity for the city to become more collaborative in handling the transition from the old to the new.

What part you do want to play in Tauranga’s evolution?

My vision is simply to give local music a local outlet. Next is to be part of helping our voice reach further afield, nationally and internationally. We have already come across some exciting artists and while it’s early days, it’s a buzz to be hearing them starting to play on air. 

In any relatively new city there a so many innovative things happening and one of our aims is to provide a local portal to give the local arts and business community a voice.

Ultimately the arts and the media contributes to the soul of a community and to invest our time and resources is worthwhile on many levels.

I’m a big picture person who loves celebrating the talent of others and I believe I can make a difference in achieving this. 


Gets You Thinking Doesn't It?

No-one can tell you when you're ready for a change of lifestyle...but when you are, we'd love to have you in Tauranga!

1. Join us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TaurangaWelcomesYou

2. Subscribe to our montly e-newsletter to receive stories just like this one about people who have already made the big move you are thinking of making. 

3. Have a story to share? We love sharing your sea-change or homecoming stories. Email me at kathryn@priorityone.co.nz to start a conversation.

Meet Kathryn Overall
Explore www.wishyouwereworkinghere.co.nz


Looking for work in Tauranga?

Send me your CV and a 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesess who are on the lookout for good people. Priority One is not a recruitment agency, but as the economic development agency for the region we seek to make connections for people where we can. There is no charge for this service.

Email me at annie@priorityone.co.nz.

Annie Hill | Priority One
Communications/Project Manager



Contact Priority One

Contact Priority One

Need help?

Send us your 100 word bio and we will send it out to local businesses who are on the lookout for good people! info@priorityone.co.nz

Tauranga Welcomes You

Tauranga Welcomes You


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About Kathryn

About Kathryn


Kathryn Overall is the friendly voice behind the 'Wish You Were Working Here' stories and Facebook posts.  Each month she chats with returned Kiwi expats,  Auckland imports and New Zealand immigrants who have moved to Tauranga, collecting their stories and advice to share with you. 

CLICK HERE to read her own story of reluctant homecoming!


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