Kids commandeer airwaves in Merrimack

MERRIMACK – “Hi, I’m Jeremy King with ‘Merrimack Matters!’ ”

Jeremy, 12, stood with a microphone poised to interview Janet Angus, the library director. Meanwhile, Jennifer Bull, 11, worked the camera, staring intently into the viewfinder.

This was the main event: the interview of Angus and library trustees Pat Heinrich and John Buckley about the library and plans in the works to build a new one.

But the tougher job fell to Jeremy and Jennifer’s two colleagues.

Zachary King, 13, and James Helie, 12, combed the Merrimack Public Library stacks with a handheld camera late one afternoon looking for subjects willing to be interviewed for the Channel 22 cable television news magazine show about happenings in Merrimack. The interviews and shots of the library would be part of the program, edited in around the interviews.

Zachary and James weren’t having much luck.

“Do you want to be on TV?” they asked several people, hastening away with each abrupt “no.”

A print media reporter who _happened to be there at the time _suggested they might try a slightly smoother pitch.

Taking that advice, the pair approached an elderly woman sitting on a couch.

“Hi, I’m Zachary and this is James and we’re doing a TV show about the library. Can we ask you some questions?”

The woman said she thought it was a nice library, but a little cramped. She said biographies and novels are her favorite books to read.

As the boys left, Mary Greenfield said she was impressed.

“It’s good for schoolchildren to do research,” said Greenfield, 82, of Troy, N.Y., who was visiting family in town. “It’s a nice library, a very nice library.”

You can see this interview on Channel 22 in the coming months.

“Merrimack Matters” debuted last week. The program, created by resident Dennis King, allows a staff of children to film a news magazine program about goings-on in town for the local-access cable television channel.

“It’s just about the things that are happening in town, the positive things, and we try to get it on tape and show people what it’s like,” Jeremy said.

The initial program was about veterans. Future shows will include segments about last summer’s Cardboard Boat Race, a day at Canobie Lake Park and a tour of the WNDS-TV studio, featuring an interview with its legendary weatherman.

“Al Kaprelian I had heard of before,” Jennifer said. “My mom had told me he was the wacky weatherman.”

The program brings special people and special events into the home, but with a child’s perspective, Dennis King said.

“It’s designed to enlighten people, to inform,” he said. “It’s apolitical.

“It’s to show what makes a town a town, the special things that make Merrimack a good place to live.”

The production crew is kept small for a practical reason. It includes King’s two sons and some of their friends.

“It’s limited to the number of people who can fit in my car,” he said.

The show allows the kids not only to try on the roles of reporters and cameramen, but to learn about the events and places in the process.

“I get to spend time with my friends and I get to meet new people,” Jennifer said.

Patrick Meighan can be reached at 594-6518 or