Access Radio Taranaki - a place for unheard and under-heard voices

Audio engineer Chris Foreman in the studio with Iyarna Schuler, 18, and Adalee Forbes, 17.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Audio engineer Chris Foreman in the studio with Iyarna Schuler, 18, and Adalee Forbes, 17.

It's been around for seven years and shows no sign of slowing down. Christina Persico finds out just what makes Access Radio Taranaki hum along so nicely. 

A show about "girly" issues that doesn't shy away from the "gross things" is one of the latest community hits at Access Radio Taranaki. 

Waitara girls Iyarna Schuler, 18, and Adalee Forbes, 17, are the latest to launch a show at the community radio station. Their 'Yeah! The Girls!', broadcast sees them talking about issues like sexuality, body issues and personal health - along with a lot of giggles.

Station manager Alessandra Keighley says anyone is welcome to Access Radio Taranaki.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Station manager Alessandra Keighley says anyone is welcome to Access Radio Taranaki.

They're the sort of subjects girls usually only discuss in private and definitely not on radio.  

"We're pretty open books. We don't shy away from gross things," Schuler said.

"It was meant to be a big sister show sort of thing, and then it became a community show."

Adalee Forbes, 17, and Iyarna Schuler, 18, do a show on some "serious stuff and then giggling".
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Adalee Forbes, 17, and Iyarna Schuler, 18, do a show on some "serious stuff and then giggling".

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The pair's show airs every second Wednesday at 4pm. It's straight after Annette's Heart of the Country and just before Car Crazy.

Set up by Alessandra Keighley and her late husband Daniel seven years ago, Acess Radio Taranaki, or Art for short,  has grown in depth and breadth each year and is now well ensconced in its studio on South Rd, New Plymouth.

Nanda Fogli, 30, and Mariana Melo, 34, started their radio show to include more people in their conversations about self ...
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

Nanda Fogli, 30, and Mariana Melo, 34, started their radio show to include more people in their conversations about self improvement.

In June they won their first NZ Radio Award, 'Best Community Access Programmes: Best Music Programme in Any Language' for an episode of the Folk Music Hour, the Nobel Dylan, hosted by Davey Calder and produced by Chris Foreman.

The station fills a gap in the market that mainstream radio stations don't cater to. Art has shows on books, mediation, self help, cooking and it's also the place that'll broadcast tunes penned and played by local singer songwriters.  

So far the feedback for 'Yeah! The Girls!', had been positive, Schuler said, and they had even managed to pick up a sponsor in the form of hygiene products U By Kotex.

Dave Haskell says the existence of access radio is "essential".
Cameron Burnell

Dave Haskell says the existence of access radio is "essential".

It was important to discuss the issues that effected young women, Forbes said. 

"We're just bringing out taboo topics and bringing them out as funny, and information as much as we can."

They're doing it because it's the type of show they wish they had to listen to when they were younger.

ART exists to give a voice to the unheard and under heard, Keighley says.
SIMON O'CONNOR/STUFF

ART exists to give a voice to the unheard and under heard, Keighley says.

"Some girls don't have the chance to connect with female family members," Schuler said. 

"I went to a small high school...It's almost like 'you can't talk about that'."

Angela Solomons, who does a show on community law, said Acess Radio Taranaki was a supportive environment where hosts could develop unique content to reflect their personality.

"I'm going to talk about this and I'm going to play some Metallica...and no one goes 'I don't know if you should be doing this'," she said. 

Brazilians Mariana Melo and Nanda Fogli host a self improvement show, Inside Out, and say the idea stemmed from their own interesting conversations.

"We wish more people could join in the conversation," Melo said.

"As long as it's a positive message to share anyone can have access to it. Sometimes all people need is that starting point, that push to start speaking out."

Dave Haskell, the former manager and host of New Plymouth's small but popular Most FM, said access radio was essential.

"I think every region should have at least one," he said.

He thought it was important to have an independent, community voice - important enough that the government should support it.

"You get a variety of voices out on the airwaves and a difference of opinion, which is good."

Keighley said anyone was welcome to come up and have a cup of tea and talk about ideas for a show.

"We're here to give voice to those who are unheard or under heard on mainstream media."

They only had one rule - no one could speak ill of another inside the building.

She said she had had to vet a couple of show makers.

"Someone wanting to be the next Paul Henry - we're not the right place."

It's less about ratings and more about connecting people, Keighley said. They judge their success by how many teacups have been used and how many koha are in the bowl on the table.

The station receives funding from NZ On Air and various grants and sponsors. Show makers also pay a fee - but sometimes it's a bag of feijoas.

The station broadcasts 24/7, and has a live breakfast show every day. This month they are marking Maori Music Month by playing an hour of Maori music every day. 

Keighley wanted everyone to feel comfortable in the environment - hence the tea or coffee first.

"When they feel safe, when they do speak it's coming from who they truly are.

"They soon find that out. That the best part of it is to be real."

Access Radio Taranaki is on 104.4 FM.

 - Stuff

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