Lyall Bay kids relish roles on radio

ERIN KAVANAGH-HALL
Last updated 05:00 07/12/2012
Radio
On air: Announcer Lilly Gentile is one of 40 year 5 and 6 pupils at Lyall Bay School who work shifts at radio station Maranui FM.

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Maranui FM's DJs are charming and articulate, have local knowledge and varied musical tastes - and they are only 9 to 11 years old.

And thanks to the station going digital this year, proud Lyall Bay School parents can tune in to hear their budding Swampy Marshes and Polly Gillespies from anywhere.

Maranui FM, which has been broadcasting from the school for four years, is now streaming 24/7 over the internet, deputy principal Clint Chalmers says.

"The kids' parents and people like separated parents [living out of the area] and overseas rellies can listen. Parents can even tune in while they're at work.

"There's been a great public response. The kids love getting emails from their listeners," he says.

The station was set up in 2008, after Lyall Bay School received a grant from the Ministry of Education and Enterprise New Zealand to set up an "enterprising project".

Forty year 5 and 6 pupils are rostered to work at the station, and act as announcers, newsreaders, and sports and weather presenters.

"The kids talk about what they're doing in school, their teachers, things going on in Wellington, like The Hobbit.

"The news kids have to have their news ready first thing in the morning. They need one local item, one international and one from New Zealand. "If they're doing the weather, they just poke their heads out the window."

Young DJ Sharnay Leef says she loves being an announcer on Maranui FM.

"You can share your mind, and no-one's looking at you," the year 6 pupil says.

Co-announcer Lilly Gentile says she and Sharnay chat a lot about school, such as their class project on famous people and a video they made covering Feel Inside by Flight of the Conchords.

The school's junior students have played recorder, read stories, sung and put on plays on air.

The children have interviewed former mayor Kerry Prendergast, Rongotai MP Annette King and members of The Black Seeds.

Mr Chalmers says he has seen the children grow in confidence since working on Maranui FM.

"It's an easy medium for them to express themselves, because it's like they're just having a conversation. They could be talking to no-one, or to over 500 people.

"In fact, some of the shyest kids are some of the best announcers."

He says being on the radio has also widened the children's musical horizons, and has introduced them to everything from the Beatles to "a bit of opera".

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"They're now learning names like Neil Young, for example. Some kids were even looking up Bob Marley, because they'd heard their dad listening to him."

- Maranui FM is available on 106.7FM on the radio, and is streaming at player.wizz.co.nz/maranuifm

- The Dominion Post

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