Shortland Street Studios

Shortland Street Studios Shortland Street Studios Shortland Street Studios

Shortland Street Studios (1934)

Icon of the radio years

Does that tall radio mast and the spiky electric-Gothic brickwork remind you of something from a prewar movie trailer? The former 1YA studios in downtown Auckland’s Shortland Street symbolise the high point of our radio or wireless years, as they would have been called then. In 1924 we had just 2800 licensed radio receivers; there were 50,000 by 1930 and 300,000 by 1939.

Radio Service Ltd got the first of the new station licences, 1YA, in May 1923. From 1925 it was the flagship of the Radio Broadcasting Company, the private venture that operated the four YA stations under contract to the government. Behind Shortland Street’s solid brick walls, which shielded it from traffic noise, four storeys of studios catered for broadcasters’ every need. The largest, 20 x 12 x 7.6 m, occupied two floors of the building and could handle concerts. A smaller studio contained an ‘echo’ room used for generating special sound effects. Within a year of its commissioning, the studios and the rest of the YA network were nationalised by the new Labour government.

Video, as they say, killed the radio star. Later, television moved in and took over more of the building. In 1966 it commissioned the famous Studio One here, New Zealand’s biggest TV studio until Avalon opened in the Hutt Valley a decade later. Pop shows such as C’mon were made in Studio One until the state broadcasters moved into a new purpose-built television centre in 1989. The old Shortland Street building is not quite done with the glamour life. Now owned by the University of Auckland, it houses the School of Creative and Performing Arts’ new Kenneth Myers Centre and boasts very modern studios.

Further information

This site is item number 93 on the History of New Zealand in 100 Places list.



  • Patrick Day, The radio years, Auckland University Press, Auckland, 1994

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Robert Handlin

Posted: 14 Jun 2015

Wow! That mighty brick building which had such an 'awesome' atmosphere upon ones entering it's cavernous interior. I was only out of my teens when, as a promoter and record producer, I ventured within it's walls to engage the interest of those involved in the first years of television.
It was 1963 and AKTV2 was but an infant learning to walk in a new medium of live television. I was able to share in the excitement of that period with artists and bands I had recorded and promoted throughout the greater Auckland area. Producing those suitable to be allowed to perform for a few minutes before the cameras was a privilege and a certain 'boost' to the recognition and support of our Kiwi talent. We were all in a learning process and as there were no video tape recorders back then, it was a case of "getting it right the first time". Live music was mimed and there were no teleprompters if one got nervous and forgot the words. Fortunately, that didn't happen to any of my artists on air but I sometimes had concerns during afternoon rehearsals.
Talent that I produced for TV included Irish folk singer, Neva Eder, The Spartans, and The La de das, a rock band who, as the opening act, presented the feature song from the blockbuster British film of the day, "Those Magificent Men in their Flying Machines", much to the amusement of the viewers and the appreciation of the Moodabe family who had the exclusive screening of the movie throughout their Amalgamated Cinema chain.
My venture into the world of television was all too short but the memories of those days will always remain.
Please don't ever pull that mighty brick building in Shortland Street down. It's still an awesome place !!