Graeme Joyes (right) behind the microphone with incoming Coast Access Radio manager Todd Zaner (left).
The retiring manager of Coast Access Radio, Graeme Joyes, says it was a chance conversation in a dentist's chair that led him to first join the station as a technician and then go on to lead it for 20 years.
His wife, Heather, was working with an Ōtaki dentist. One day the then manager of Coast Access Radio, Hilary Hudson, was in the chair and mentioned the radio station urgently needed a technician.
Step in Graeme Joyes who had abandoned a banking career to be a technician at the New Zealand Post Office after leaving school.
"My technical qualifications covered radio and I was hired."
While Post Office technician to radio technician may seem a stretch, it will not surprise many on the Kāpiti Coast who have benefited over the years from Graeme's technical help and his generosity with his skills.
Graeme worked at the Post Office until 1985. "I joined at the start of the technology wave," he says. "I received superb training and I loved the work."
He resigned to study theology and was a church Pastor in Putararu and Ōtaki before ill health intervened. Pumping gas in Ōtaki for four years helped him recover his health and enabled him to take the Coast Access Radio job.
"Right from childhood I've been fascinated with radio," he says. "As a seven-year-old I hid under the bed covers listening to programmes like Life with Dexter."
"Radio communicates. It's not about the best camera angle showing beautiful people. Radio has the ability to communicate at a much deeper and more interesting level."
Coast Access Radio, based in Waikanae, is one of 12 independent access radio stations in New Zealand. It has been a finalist in the New Zealand Radio Awards 22 times since 2000.
"I have loved my 20 years at Coast Access Radio - great people, really interesting work. I had the satisfaction of knowing I was involved with a team of people adding value to the community. I never woke up and thought, duh, I have to go to work. For 20 years, it was, YES, I'm going to work.
"Access radio allows the community to have a voice, to tell their stories, to share their passions and concerns. And that's not time-limited to a three-minute sound bite - the programme can be as long as needed."
Graeme says it's the people he's interviewed and worked with who have given him his greatest thrill.
"The best and most interesting stories don't necessarily come from the famous, but the ordinary person. I interviewed the guy who was part of the gang who fueled the battleship Hood as it sailed to confront the Bismarck during World War Two. He believes he was the last person to wave and shout goodbye, before it sailed to its fateful encounter."
He believes access radio has an important role in broadcasting because commercial radio is struggling to survive in the current comic environment and because they are mostly Auckland-based they struggle to have a local community focus.
"So access broadcasting allows groups like the Heart Foundation, Dementia NZ, Parkinson's as well as arts, cultural and religious groups to produce in-depth programmes for both their members and the general public.
Graeme paid tribute to the Chairman of the Coast Access Radio Trust, Michael Scott for his support, friendship and counsel for the whole 20 years he's been with the station.
He will continue working two-days a week at Coast Access but use his newly acquired spare time to paint the house, help run his church's Mainly Music programme and advance the construction of his model railway layout.
At a function to mark Graeme's retirement on Friday 10 July. The incoming manager Todd Zaner paid tribute to Graeme's work and leadership.