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Giving Voice to Our Future at Access Radio Taranaki

Access Radio showmakers in action
Access Radio showmakers in action

When Saturn Murray first visited Access Radio Taranaki as a 16-year-old she was so shy she barely uttered a word.

But station manager Alessandra Keighley and others saw the visually impaired teen as a potential show maker, and so, soon after visiting the station for work experience, Saturn found herself behind a mic.

Now, more than a year later, the Coastal Taranaki School student hosts the weekly half-hour Saturn’s Orbit, with an animated self-assurance.

Her live show is one of many hosted by young people at Access Radio, a safe place for everyone to have a voice atop Maungaroa at Blagdon in New Plymouth.

Saturn’s Orbit, which airs at 4pm each Thursday, features music of her choice, guest interviews and showcases her ability to make a whole bunch of crazy voices.

“People can think there’s way more people in the room than me because of the voices,” she says. “I use them when I’m nervous – I put on a voice like a mask.”

The 17-year-old says she has gained a lot from doing the radio segment. “When I started I was very shy. It’s definitely boosted my confidence, not just on the show, but in real life.”

She was even able to go out to seek sponsors for the show.

It’s also kept her mind busy. “Having a radio show gives you something to work on, even if you don’t do as much as you should,” she says explaining how she writes scripts, but also performs off the cuff.

At the end of the year, Saturn hopes to attend The Learning Connexion, which offers a range of creative courses. But her dream would be to do voice work for cartoons on TV or movies.

Meanwhile, she’s got advice for any young person thinking about having a show on Access Radio Taranaki. “Bro, go for it, bro,” she says, in a strong Kiwi accent.

Spotswood College students Moss Page and Finn Heard, both 14, have hosted The Undecided Radio Show for just over a year.

During their early live shows, the pair hardly spoke – they just played music and told listeners what they were listening to. “Then after a few weeks, we started talking and playing songs. Now we speak more than we play songs,” Moss says.

Often, they have other friends come along to air their views and share what’s going on at their school.

Moss says he’s gained a lot from being part of the Access Radio whanau. “I’m more confident. I know how to do sound; I know what buttons to press. It’s completely changed the type of music I listen to because of suggestions from people.”

Also, doing the show every Thursday at 4.30pm is just good fun. “It’s something to do with my spare time. I would be home doing jobs or watching YouTube if I wasn’t here.”

Finn says if he didn’t have the show to focus on, he’d probably be home on his mobile phone. “It’s really fun to be able to choose the music that we play and share it with other people.”

Music is also a good topic of conversation on the show, as is what’s happening at Spotswood. “At first I found it hard to talk on the radio.”

Not only has he learnt to talk effortlessly on air, he can now talk easily with people face to face.

The radio experience has also got him thinking about a future career in editing audio, mixing or even producing radio shows.

Alessandra says it was always the dream to have the station filled with young people.

“They bring freshness, conversations in their own voices,” she says. “They bring their music, their viewpoints, their outlook, their energy. They bring our future with them.”

Some of those involved, through Gateway placements, internships or as showmakers, have had long connections with the station through whanau members.

Alessandra says young people are celebrated at the station she and husband Daniel Keighley co-founded with many others from the community on June 10, 2010.

“We get the kids who don’t fit in and they come here and thrive. We are supported to be on the edge. The mainstream is not where we are supposed to be,” she says.

“If young people are valued here in the heart of the community, we are pre-empting all of those social problems that we are aware of. Community is the answer to everything.”