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With Marchell Linzey

Awake early one weekend morning, then University of Otago student Marchell Linzey was nostalgic for the kids’ radio shows he had enjoyed as a child. He spun the radio dial, but to no avail. It was 1998 and children’s programmes on the radio had fallen out of fashion.

Captain Cornflake to the rescue! Marchell’s alter ego, the swashbuckling space pirate, skipper of the Space Station Kiwi, soon took to the airways and continues his zany adventures each Saturday morning, 7-8am on Otago Access Radio (OAR) 105.4FM.

“I loved listening to radio programmes as a child and now, as an early childhood educator, I know that radio can be a valuable teaching tool, with many benefits for young children,” says the 39-year-old whose “day-job” is teaching preschool. “Smart radio helps children improve their listening skills, it is a valuable connection to the broader community and, best of all, it gets them away from screens.”

Marchell’s one-man Space Station Kiwi programme – which also streams live on the internet – includes stories, music and interviews. And while Marchell’s Captain Cornflake – the corniest, flakiest pirate around – has interviewed pre-school favourites like The Wiggles, he’s also hosted former Prime Minister Helen Clark.

“I might have a fireman on the show one week to talk about fire safety and, the following week, a university lecturer might join me to discuss fossils.”

Currently a relief teacher with the Otago University Childcare Association (OUCA), Marchell believes education and entertainment go together.

“Teaching early childhood education is a wonderful and rewarding job. I only wish more men would work with children at this critical time in their learning.”

What degree(s) did you complete at Otago?

Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, Diploma of Teaching, Graduate Diploma in Teaching (early Childhood Education). The BA was for fun and because I enjoyed Greek and Roman mythology as a child. The BEd etc. were for a career in teaching. I initially thought primary teaching was where I wanted to be, but after a few years teaching in New Zealand and a stint teaching in Japan, decided to retrain in ECE and have never looked back.

Why did you choose to study at Otago?

It is my hometown and I couldn’t imagine studying anywhere else.

How did Otago help to shape your life and career success?

My education degrees have been vital. My time at Otago helped shape my character, build strong friendships and learn many wonderful things. The abilities to discover, research and learn have been very useful …

What highlights and interesting memories of your university days?

Partying, protesting (occupying the registry and turning the VC’s office into an art gallery for children); University clubs; drinks and pool at the Loaded Goblin (which I named); amazing music gigs at pubs round Dunedin; flatting in horrible cold, damp, cheap flats with weird and wonderful people; wagging lectures to go surfing; starting my radio programme at what is now Otago Access Radio 105.4FM.

What are your career or personal highlights?

Hosting one of New Zealand’s top children’s radio programmes and working for an amazing early childhood centre – OUCA.

What are your goals for the future?

To keep teaching in ECE; to get my programme on to National Radio.

What advice do you have for current students or students considering studying at Otago?

Do it! Otago is a great place. Explore the city, join some Uni clubs, go tramping in the Silverpeaks, walk on the beaches. Make the most of your time and enjoy every minute.