Radio NZ's great t-shirt solution – a new bottom line

Kim Hill
Chris Laidlaw
Jim Mora
Geoff Robinson

Radio New Zealand fans can now wear their support for the country's public broadcaster by buying from a selection of kiwiana-themed t-shirts on RNZ's new online store.

RNZ's communications manager John Barr told NBR ONLINE the store is not a new revenue stream for the broadcaster but rather another "promotional tool".

"Initially it will be a very small, low-key operation which will sell the 'sounds like us' t-shirts."

However, it should be noted RNZ has not had a funding increase since 2007 and could be trying to find ways to boost its bottom line.

Mr Barr says the $35 shirts, which feature items such as pavola and caravans, have proved popular on Radio NZ's promotional tour.

Incidentally, they are made in China, but printed right here in New Zealand. 

But wait.

Aren't they missing a bigger opportunity, such as t-shirts emblazoned with the many faces of RNZ hosts?

Morning Report apparently has some 340,000 listeners. If just half of them bought a shirt with Geoff Robinson's face slapped across the front – and wee Simon Mercep on the back? – that is nearly $6 million in extra revenue. 

And that's just Geoff.

Avid fans could adorn themselves with the mugs of Kim Hill, Chris Laidlaw and Jim Mora. 

They could release a "boxed collectors set", in the tradition of pop bands, for these folk truly rock.

And it doesn't have to stop with t-shirts. 

Drink bottles, hats, clocks and seat covers – there's no end to the number of things which could bear the faces of some of New Zealand's best-loved broadcasters. 

The ABC in Australia doesn't quite go this far but its online store features a wide range of products, including kids pyjamas. 

Mr Barr says the RNZ store won't be as big as the ABC's, but it has the potential to impact the organisation's bottom line some time in the future. 

"Initially, we would expect it to cover costs.

"Short term it's certainly not a revenue stream. Nothing to the extent that it would make a significant contribution to Radio New Zealand's income."

Mr Barr is quick to say RNZ is not turning "commercial" and it would remain a solely publicly-funded, ad-free broadcaster. 

But why not have a bit more fun while making loads of loot at the same time?

Anyone want to trade a well-worn Laidlaw for a fragant Kim??

Or a couple of jovial Jims for a super Simon???

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2 Comments & Questions

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oh dear god

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haha - the illustrations for this article are rather misleading. As much as I'm a fan of RNZ, I wouldn't be keen to wear any of the above! However, the ACTUAL' kiwiana' t-shirts on the RNZ site are pretty cute.

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