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Young Lyall Bay DJs make their voices heard

Dec 7th, 2012 | By | Category: News, Top Picture

BUDDING DJS: Lilly Gentile, Elena Bennett and Sharnay Leef love their roles on air.

MARANUI FM’s DJs are charming and articulate, have local knowledge and varied musical tastes – and they are only nine to 11 years old.

Now, 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, says Deputy Principal Clint Chalmers.

“We weren’t online originally, so only people in the local community could pick it up,” says Mr Chalmers.

He says he has received emails from listeners all over the country since the station went digital.

“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.”

The station was set up in 2008, after Lyall Bay School received a grant from the Ministry of Education for setting up an “enterprising project”.

LISTEN UP: Year 5 pupil Ariana Kotrotsos reads the news.

“Other schools were doing things like sustainable coasts or vege gardens – radio was a bit different,” says Mr Chalmers.

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

Mr Chalmers says apart from the music, which is selected by the teachers, all on-air content is decided by the students.

“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 and then.”

The station has also involved the school’s junior students, who have played recorder, read stories, sung and put on plays on the air.

Over the years, 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 general 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 from everything from the Beatles to “a bit of opera”.

“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.”

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,” says the Year 6 pupil.

Co-announcer Lilly Gentile (left) 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.

“We play games on air sometimes, like the ‘inventing game’,” says Lilly. “People say really random things, like ‘I saw a teddy bear on the street, and then I decided to invent chocolate.’”

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is a Whitireia journalism student, most passionate about the arts and social justice issues. Sometimes, she even combines the two.
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