Seven-year-old Ari Rath Jenne knows his way around the CICK 93.9 studios.
The young host of Lightning Guitar Monsters is broadcasting his 100th show Feb. 10, and he will be welcoming in members of the community to wish him well on this impressive milestone.
Music has always been a part of Ari’s life.
He had the good fortune of being born into the very musical Smithers’ Jenne family, so the fact he is involved in music in some way is not a surprise. He’s learning how to play the guitar and also enjoys the drums.
“Since they were little babies, I would dance with them to music,” said Ari’s father, Perry.
“They grew up around music. I’m not a musician but I’ve always appreciated music. We just found we would play music and talk about it a lot.”
His father Perry, who is also incredibly creative in his own right, suggested the idea of hosting a radio show to Ari when he was five years old. He jumped at the chance.
“I just wanted to,” Ari said. “I just felt the power to do it.”
Perry’s own community radio experience when he was attending the University of Guelph helped convince him it would be a positive experience for his son.
“I really liked the type of community that evolved around the radio station,” Perry said.
“The technology has changed a whole lot since I was last on radio. We had CDs but were still using lots of reel to reel at that time. We had things duct taped together and were sort of scrounging for materials, which is how this station started.”
In the beginning, Perry set the direction and the playlist of Lightning Guitar Monsters.
Now, two-and-a-half years into his DJ gig, Ari has the show down to a science, and has almost complete creative control. Perry plays a small supporting role and Ari’s five-year-old brother Dorian has now picked up the slack, offering advice on song selections and commentary.
The evolution has been incredible to watch, Perry said.
“His speech has definitely become more refined, on air, and he’s more able to talk about different musical aspects of songs,” he said proudly.
Lightning Guitar Monsters features interesting special guests and plays music appealing to a wide variety of tastes — from children’s songs to reggae.
Among his favourite musicians right now, Ari said, are groups like Imagine Dragons, They Might Be Giants, Sly and the Family Stone and Bob Marley.
Radio DJs like the CBC’s Jian Ghomeshi, Tom Power and Rich Terfry also serve as inspiration for the young host.
A big factor in the success of Lightning Guitar Monsters is the support Ari has received from the CICK board and from members of the community. He sometimes even gets recognized when he’s out around town.
“Lots of people have told me they really like my show,” Ari said.
“We’ve had lots of community members come up to us and say they really like the show and offering encouragement,” Perry said.
The father/son team have also played a number of DJ gigs around town at live dances and radio station fundraisers.
As for the future of the show, Ari said he sees no reason why he won’t continue Lightning Guitar Monsters.
“I can see myself doing the show for about 10 more years or so,” he said.
Lightning Guitar Monsters, which is sponsored by Nature’s Pantry, goes live every Tuesday at 4 p.m.on 93.9 FM and repeated the next day, also at 4.
It can be streamed online from anywhere in the world at www.smithersradio.com.