Like any newsmagazine show on television, this one had a mix of stories on current topics — flu season, a fund-raiser for juvenile diabetes, a theater renovation project, sports, and a movie review.
The twist? The program was conceived, written, produced, edited, and presented by students from second to eighth grades.
During a recent taping, boys and girls were operating the cameras, directing, working the teleprompter, staffing the tech room, and delivering the news and other stories from the anchor desk.
“They just come in and do what they need to do,” said Jon Caswell, the station’s programming coordinator and one of the two adults who help guide the children through the taping.
“They listen to directions and pick up everything really quickly,” he said.
“It’s seem chaotic, but it always comes together,” said Bryan Nadeau, the station’s production coordinator. “These kids know a lot more than you would think, just by watching TV and growing up in a technical age.”
The show was the idea of Darcy Mayers, a mother of three who wanted to provide her sports-involved children and their friends with a “more cerebral” activity.
Mayers, who knew the local station trains people from the community to produce their own television shows, approached executive director Joan Goloboy in the summer of 2011 with a proposal for “a news show by kids and for kids.”
Goloboy liked the idea and word of the show spread through a network of announcements, e-mails, and conversations among parents, children, and their friends.
Now, there are almost 50 families involved and about 70 children, with the number changing month to month. To participate, they have to become members of the nonprofit station; membership is $10 per child annually or $40 per family.
But there is no long-term commitment. Children can participate for one show or once in a while, or every month.
“It’s very flexible,” Mayers said.
There is one brainstorming meeting a month in which the children pitch the stories and make assignments for coverage.
They also make assignments for the co-anchors, crew, cameramen, floor director, and technical director. The roles change each month, so everyone gets a chance to learn the different skills.
MH-TV supplies equipment and training. From there, it’s up to the kids.
The show is taped at the beginning of each month at the MH-TV studio and runs on Comcast Channel 8 and Verizon Channel 28 four times a week through the rest of the month.
“I didn’t think it was going to last,” said Nadeau. “Most of the time people come in and have an idea and want to do a show and we teach them the stuff. But by the time they get to the end of the teaching they realize how much work it is and give up.”
Marblehead Youth News, he said, is “bigger and stronger than ever.”
In addition to topical news, such as a recent big storm, and lighter stories, such as the tale of a ghost at the former Glover School, there are regular features including “Kids for a Cause’’ (charitable and service endeavors) and “Kids on the Street’’ (interviews with people on the street on a variety of topics).
There are cooking segments, which Mayers said are “hilarious,” and guides to local stores and restaurants that are child- and family-friendly.
“It draws the kids into the community,” Mayers said.
And, there is “Moore’s Movie Minute,’’ a review with 13-year-old Jake Moore, who has been featured in every show to date.
Moore has special challenges, but has been named “One Take Jake,” for his success in performing in front of the camera.
“It has been a real confidence-builder for him,” Mayers said, adding that inclusion of children of all abilities has been a boost and learning experience for everyone.
Many of the kids said they joined the program because they like watching the news and thought it would be cool to be a part of it.
“It’s a great opportunity to learn young,” said Cole Kronberg, 9, who was serving as field director at a recent taping.
“My parents think when I am on screen, even if it’s a home video, I am at my best,” said Logan Perkins, 10, who reported one of the stories for the February show.
Sixth-graders Cameron Winch and Dalia Loughlin — who have known each other since they were toddlers — served as co-anchors.
“It was a little nerve-racking,” said Loughlin. “But it was fun.”
“It was scary and hilarious at the same time,” said Winch. “I thought it was going to take a lot more takes. I actually had a pretty good time.”
Wendy Killeen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.