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Local Station Airs a Kid Show That’s Really a Kid Show

<i> Times Staff Writer </i>

Mixed in with the children’s programming Saturday mornings is a radio show with a surprisingly different approach: It actually has children as co-hosts.

Media veterans despite their ages, 10-year-old Matthew Cole and his 8-year-old sister, Kimberly, slip into the studio at radio station KPZE in Anaheim at 7 a.m. and spend the next hour weaving jokes, skits, news reports, song introductions and lead-ins to commercials over the 10,000-watt station.

The Fountain Valley siblings get considerable help from co-host David Hare, who dreamed up the idea of having children as hosts of the program he dubbed “K.KID radio.” Hare produces the show and sells spots to advertisers, then buys air time from the station to broadcast his program.

Hare, who is just 21 himself, described the program as a natural evolution of the work he and his wife, Tammy, had been doing for the last several years.

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The two had created a rabbit character called Hubble Hare for several family-oriented stage shows they performed in California during the Easter and Christmas holidays and summer vacations, Hare said.

But eventually, “we decided we needed something consistent,” he said. “Jokingly I said, ‘We could do a kids’ radio show, because nobody’s doing that.’. . . After several investigations of what kids want and are looking for, we came up with the format of K.KID radio,” which took to the airwaves about 9 months ago.

One of the children who responded to Hare’s auditions for co-hosts was Matthew, whom Hare had seen as a guest and sometime-host on a KDOC-TV show for children.

Matthew’s “enthusiasm was incredible,” Hare remembered. As a bonus, he had a sister who could also be host of the radio show and had appeared on the TV show as well.

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On one recent Saturday, Matthew introduced a song “from the loveable Chipmunks,” and Kimberly, with only a minor glitch in tongue twister land, said it would soon be time for “Hubbel’s Hot Spotlight.” Songs ranged from “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” to a ditty from the movie “Mary Poppins” and the staple of decades gone by, “Mairzy Doats.”

At one point, Matthew told his sister that “to sit in the presence of greatness is a special privilege that has been given just to you.”

“You know, you’re right, Matt,” Kimberly replied. “We should thank Hubble for letting us sit in his presence.”

“I was talking about me, " Matthew answered.

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Later in the show, Kimberly told listeners that “you’re tuned in to the sweetest, most adorable show anywhere. So play tea party and listen to K.KID radio.”

That prompted her brother to reply: “What are you saying? This show is sweet and adorable ? It’s cool, radical and jammin’, dude.”

That led to Kimberly’s conclusion: “Face it, Matt. I’m a little bit country and you’re a little bit rock ‘n’ roll.”

Matthew and Kimberly are not as concerned about the occasional overly cute dialogue as they are about the nightmare of all broadcasters: dead air.

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On one show, Hare could not do the rabbit character, leaving Matthew nonplussed partway through the hour. “I was saying, ‘Are you having fun, Kim? Yes, we’re having a great time, right, Kim? We’re having fun, Kim. Yes, Kim, we’re having fun, Kim.’ ‘Cause I didn’t know really what to do. Then my sister said (in a loud whisper), ‘Get to a song.’ So I said, ‘Let’s get to a song.’ ”

But most of the time, the youngsters simply have a good time. Matthew rated the best part of the show “just talking” and waiting for Hare to say, “Make up something, be creative.” When that happens, “we get to be creative and make up a line. Then we get to talk sometimes, just on our own. He says go ahead and talk, so we do.”

About what? “Things that are happening, in school,” he said.

“Like, what’s your school doing?” Kim said. “What’s special? What holidays are you having?”

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Matthew can come up with interesting news easily partly because of his other job: “cub reporter” for a children’s newspaper, “Bear Essential News for Kids.” A reporter for the paper for the last year and a half, Matthew got an up-close look at Democratic presidential candidate Jesse Jackson during a summer campaign stop in San Pedro and recently interviewed Newport Beach resident James Roosevelt on what it is like to be the son of a President.

Matthew did so well as a reporter that the newspaper last year had him tell its new “reporters” what to expect. “I talked about the Bear Essential press pass and how far it can get you,” Matthew said. “Most people think that a kid, I mean, they won’t let you in anything. But if you have that press pass, it’s like you’re grown up, you’re another person, you’re really important.”

“Bear Essential News” is a monthly newspaper published by an Arizona couple, Sharon and Anson Wong, that is distributed free to schools in parts of Orange County and in Phoenix and Tucson.

Aimed at children ages 6 to 13, the newspaper carries short items on events such as earthquakes, Soviet troop strength cuts and the popularity of comic books in Japan. Student reporters write items on topics such as New Year’s resolutions, the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. and animals that hibernate.

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The Coles’ mother, Nancy, said she didn’t know of any other radio programs in the country with children as co-hosts. “It’s a neat thing,” she said. “There’s no kids’ radio like K.KID.”

“We’re trying not to make (the program) so silly a parent doesn’t want to listen to it,” Hare said, so there are “special segments for parents on kids’ fashions and what kids are interested in.”

Hare, who grew up in Irvine and went to Fullerton College, hopes someday to syndicate the program across the United States. Hare produced shows for Melodyland church in Anaheim. His wife, Tammy, used to direct the children’s choir at the Anaheim Assembly of God church, where her father is pastor.


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