First issue of New Zealand Listener published

30 June 1939

Cover of the first issue of the NZ Listener (Alexander Turnbull Library, S-L-1249-COVER)

Free to all radio licence holders, the New Zealand Listener soon expanded beyond its original brief to publicise radio programmes. Today it is the country’s only national weekly current affairs and entertainment magazine.

From major investigative stories to crosswords, the Listener has published the serious, the trivial and everything in between. Features such as a 1939 war diary about clothes for the well-dressed soldier, Aunt Daisy’s instructions for cooking a swan, and the recent ‘Power Lists’ of influential New Zealanders have traced changing preoccupations over the years.

From the outset, the arts were a major focus for the Listener, which has published works by leading figures such as James K. Baxter, Janet Frame and Maurice Shadbolt.

The Listener’s paid circulation peaked at 375,885 in 1982. Some feared its demise when it lost its monopoly on programme schedules in the free-market 1980s, but it adapted and survived. In 1990 the Listener was sold to New Zealand Magazines, and it is now published by the Hamburg-based Bauer Media Group. In the 2010s it remains one of New Zealand’s top-selling magazines.