“And now, it’s time for another spectacular episode of the Cherry Blossom Girls!

Jess Vogt

Every Friday from 4 to 5 p.m., the wires of the WLFM studio heat up with the tiny voices of five 10- to 12-year-old girls who broadcast a fun and educational radio program called “Fruit Loops.”
The five students of The Academy in Grand Chute and their teacher, Sheldon Hampton, are involved in collaboration with WLFM studios to broadcast the weekly radio show as part of the students’ media literacy class.
Though this is the first year “Fruit Loops” will be broadcasted over WLFM airways, the show emerged five years ago as a way to give students insight and experience into the world of radio.
Originally a project with the Fox Cities Children’s Museum, the current collaboration between Hampton’s students and WLMF grew out of connections with the ArtsBridge program.
The college studio and Hampton had an agreement last year but due to WLFM’s change of hands, the actual project was postponed until this year.
Beginning a few weeks ago, the students and Hampton meet once a month in the WLFM studio to record the weekly Friday afternoon broadcasts.
“After we record the show, we listen to it and critique our performance and talk about ways to improve,” Hampton said. “We also talk about how to act with the voice and how that is different from acting on stage.”
The weekly script for the show is written by Hampton and consists of several different segments, including Professor Nuts’ science experiments, Mrs. Brussels Sprouts’ healthy eating tips, Book Detective’s reviews of new kids books, and – the highlight of the show – a storyline in the style of an old-time radio broadcast called “The Cherry Blossom Girls.”
The girls and Hampton visited the studio for the first time earlier this year.
“Though the girls were no strangers to recording studios, they were in awe of the Lawrence studio because it’s part of the college,” Hampton said.
“We want to become part of the station – to get the kids taking a full part in WLFM on campus.”
WLFM student programmer Paul Karner agreed: “One thing that’s been difficult since we’ve gone to online-only broadcasting is having a presence in the community.”
He added, “This is a great opportunity for the community to have a hand in WLFM. It’s the first of hopefully many outreach efforts the station will be making.”
He hopes that “Fruit Loops” will recruit many more listeners in the surrounding community.
Hampton also encourages students and community members to tune in. Starting Nov. 29, the girls will do a live recording in the studio the third Friday of every month, an interactive performance inviting listeners to call into the station.
“You listen to the show and find yourself grinning without even realizing it,” Hampton said. “I really think Lawrence students would like these girls.”
Karner concluded, “They’re just too cute!”
But even more than that, the girls are dedicated to their show.
“They take it very seriously and are very involved in the story. I’m very proud of them,” said Hampton. “And we have a lot of fun, too.

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