Free FM 89 is the new name of Community Radio Hamilton, which relaunched on full power 89 FM on August 1 after raising $103,000 for the upgrade. The not-for-profit station has broadcast locally produced programmes on 1206AM and low power 106.7 FM for 25 years, with about 100 volunteer broadcasters presenting more than 80 programmes a week. In our second week focusing on the broadcasters of the station, Chris Gardner talks to Novel Ideas book show host Hamish Wright.
Hamish Wright is joined by hundreds of people between the covers every week.
Mr Wright, owner of Wright's Bookshop in Cambridge, has co-hosted the Novel Ideas book show on community access radio for three months and became sole host a week after the station relaunched as Free FM 89.
Sharron Pirie, a regular in his shop, convinced Mr Wright to join the show about 12 episodes ago, since books were in his blood. His great-grandparents and grandparents were booksellers and his parents, Richard and Margaret Wright, began his shop 22 years ago.
Mr Wright has been presenting alone since his co-host recently left for Brisbane.
"She was pretty avid about reading, and making books accessible to everyone," Mr Wright said. "We talked through different genres and she challenged me to read a Mills & Boon romance novel. I failed. I challenged her to read a thriller, which she did not like."
Mr Wright's favourite genres are thrillers, particularly the American sub genre.
"There's North American thrillers, Californian thrillers, there's the New York side of things, there's the South - each one is different."
And he's also partial to biographies. Among his favourites is Cherry: A Life of Apsley Cherry-Garrard by Sara Wheeler. The subject was a member of Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated Antarctic expedition who Mr Wright found a compelling character.
"He was the last person to leave food out for Scott. If he had just gone an extra few metres . . . He was blue blood, came from a very rich background. When he came back to England he was one of the first landed gentry to start selling up his land to the people who farmed it."
Just because he's a bookseller doesn't mean Mr Wright can't be objective about what he's reading.
"I am a prolific reader, and there are so many candidates for my worst book. I have a 50-page rule and if I can't get past the first 50 pages I put it down. The worst book I have read is Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt. I just found it so depressing I wanted to cut my wrists."
But that doesn't mean he won't stock it.
"I will sell anything that people want, but I won't recommend it."
His oldest son Lachie, 13, has been on the show talking about the late Robert Jordan's The Wheel of Time series and his youngest, Ollie, 8, will soon appear talking about his favourite books, which include the George Beard and Harold Hutchins Captain Underpants series published by Scholastic.
Mr Wright often chooses a genre or author as the theme of the show and guest presenters have included a former head judge of the New Zealand Post Book Awards.
"The show's about half an hour and we are finding reviewing about five or six books per episode is the maximum . . . You just can't do one book every three minutes to fit in 10."
The show is recorded on a Wednesday and broadcast on a Monday.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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