“Broadcasting school made my career” says NZ On Air Head of Music and Radio

News News & events

10 Mar 2016

NZ On Air Head of Music and Radio David Ridler's passion for music was developed by his father.

New Zealand On Air's new Head of Music and Radio David Ridler (43) attributes much of his success to the training he did with CPIT New Zealand Broadcasting School (NZBS) in Christchurch.

"Broadcasting school had a massive influence…. Broadcasting school made my career," Ridler says.

Ridler has worked in commercial radio on and off for the last 17 years, having held content and programme director positions for Radio Hauraki, Classic Hits, More FM and the former Channel Z. He has also previously worked for NZ On Air's music team.

Ridler believes that his success largely comes down to the comprehensive understanding he acquired of the radio industry while he was studying.

"I think my greatest advantage was I understood the entire process. Understanding what everyone did at the radio station helped advance my career quickly."

Within three years of graduating from NZBS Ridler was head of programming for Channel Z.

Despite his successful and interesting career in radio, it had not been Ridler's first career choice.

"When I was at school I was determined to go to university and do a law degree but I got distracted. I was good at English and was interested in film so I went on to do a degree in English Literature and Theatre and Film."

After graduation Ridler spent time in the United Kingdom where he discovered a love for using audio to communicate with friends and family.

"I was really too lazy to write letters. This was in the mid-90s before people wrote to each other on computers and so I made audio tapes which would be 90 minutes of me talking mixed with playing music I liked or had just bought."

On returning to New Zealand, Ridler got involved in Radio Active in Wellington and never looked back.

"I got into Radio Active and that was it, I was like: Wow, I love this radio thing."

Ridler's experience with Radio Active was the final step that committed him to take on a career in radio and go on to study at the NZBS based in Christchurch.

While broadcasting school gave him the skills for radio it was his father who had instilled his passion for music.

"My father was very into music. When we were on road trips back in the late 70s he used to play this game with me where he would imitate the start of a song or the drum beat with his voice and I had to guess what it was. I became obsessed with music and was buying tapes when I was 10 or 11."

It was this early introduction which has been the basis of Ridler's passion for music and in particular New Zealand music.

"New Zealand music is a bit different. We have so many influences and have a different sound. It's often very original. We can also go and see our bands and can trace their development."

It was this passion that Ridler says was crucial for his success.

"Passion is a word which is over used nowadays, but with radio it takes all of your passion. Being in radio takes a lot of heart and soul. That's something I was told at broadcasting school."

It is this passion for kiwi music that Ridler brings with him to his role as head of radio and music at NZ On Air.

"I'm at an age where I should be listening to old favourites but I just love discovering new music!"