DUBAI: The Middle East’s first radio station aimed at a child audience is to launch a kids’ news segment and an Arabic sister station this year.
Based at the Al Jalila Culture Centre for Children, Pearl FM is going into its second year.
It was founded in 2014 by Briton Jeff Price, 43, who was inspired to establish a radio station for children after working with young people with special needs, and in radio.
“If you want be an adult guest to chat on the radio, you can only come between 10 and 1pm, the rest of the day is for the children” said Mr Price.
“We will be creating a segment for children’s news. Lots of things happen to parents and children so there are plenty of topics. We also talk about children going to school and the effect that has on parents.
“Pearl is broadcast in English but we will be launching an Arabic sister station in 2016.”
Mr Price started out in the radio industry at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London as a 21-year-old volunteer, and has developed a media career as a head of English radio in the UAE and as a consultant with Virgin.
He now runs courses at the Al Jalila in radio, sound and presenting, to inspire young would-be broadcasters.
Pearl is aimed at an audience aged 6 to 12 years. There is a weekly talk show covering topics such as cyber bullying and social media, and the children are encouraged to develop ideas that will interest their peers.
It broadcasts on 102FM and can be found online via TuneIn.
Mr Price, who used to lecture on radio and sound in universities, has started a course at the centre based on the Australian Broadcast Curriculum.
“We have adapted it to be children-friendly and it goes back to the basics of introducing them to radio, how sound works and how our voices work,” he said.
“Also, we teach them how to write for radio, to get them to paint a picture in sound.”
One budding star is a 10-year-old French boy called Oscar, who was introduced to the station by his father, Laurent Mairet, who works in the media.
Oscar, and his younger brother Victor, 9, both pupils at Raffles World Academy, have taken a keen interest in radio, with the elder looking to host his own news programme for children.
“Oscar is an inquirer, who likes to talk and do interviews. He is young but I think he has what it takes to make a career in the media – if that is what he wants,” said Mr Mairet.
Oscar said: “I like talking about funny moments and interesting stories.
“On my show I start with a jingle, then say good morning. Then I talk about the international news, news for the UAE and Dubai and then talk about what is happening in my school.
“I check on the internet for the latest news, and check The National website.
“When I am older I would like to make movies and be a radio person.”