“Sunburns are crazy objects.”
That was one of the first statements Draconis “Drake” Meixner, 10, made into a mic on Sunday afternoon during the two-hour "The Jolly Roger" talk show slot, which airs every Sunday at 2 p.m. on the Butte KBMF community radio station.
From his recent sunburn experience to friends, musicals, boxing, and fidget spinners, DJ Drake talked about pretty much anything he felt was important.
“Today I wanted to come here and give a shout-out to every person in my school,” Meixner exclaimed, clutching the radio mic with both hands as his camo-booted feet dangled from a black desk chair.
Meixner gave shout-out after shout-out to his friends, their families, his enemies, and his own family. He played his favorite songs, recited nursery rhymes for “the little kids,” and at one point started directly asking his mom questions over the radio waves.
When Meixner wasn’t on the air, he was dancing, singing, and chatting with "The Jolly Roger" show’s host, Ainsley Helen, or DJ RedHanded Jill, in the small KBMF radio room. She said this spontaneity and kid-driven conversation is her goal for every show.
“This (show) is a great chance to empower kids so they know their perspectives are valid and worth listening to,” Helen said.
Teaching piano lessons for 12 years along with having a handful of younger siblings is what showed Helen the need for kids to both feel respected as real people, not brushed off as having childish thoughts or less mature feelings, and to have more one-on-one time with adults.
“I would end up refunding parents for piano lessons because I would just sit and talk with their kids about different things,” Helen said. “Adults tend to offer prescriptive responses, but I just try to listen.”
And that’s what Helen aims to do with "The Jolly Roger" kid-driven radio show: create a time where she and other adults just listen to local kids. She said over the past year, she’s hosted 26 shows featuring over 26 different kids and their thoughts about a variety of subjects.
Helen feels that as "The Jolly Roger" radio host, she can serve solely as an adult invested in a child’s well-being, not an adult in charge of their upbringing, like teachers and parents have to be. She said she never forgot what it was like to be young and be told what to do and think all of the time, which has led her to really care and respect kids’ perspectives and feelings.
“One time, I had this kid launch into the paranormal for like an hour. They thought they were a dad in the '90s in a past life and were trying to imagine what their life back then was like,” Helen said enthusiastically.
But moving forward, Helen hopes to transform "The Jolly Roger" from a sounding board into an actual bridge between youth and adults. She said she hopes to invite adult experts in a field a child has questions about onto the show to create generational collaboration.
She also said she’s looking at helping kids fix problems they see in Butte specifically, including creating a summer bus route for kids on the Flat to be connected with activities Uptown.
“It’d be so cool to connect young humans who are aware of problems with the people trying to fix them,” Helen said. "I think 'The Jolly Roger' is good for Butte because the kids can talk about what they like or would change about Butte, which turns the town into something they can take action about rather than just something that's happening to them."
On the recent show with DJ Drake, Helen asked him questions about school and extracurricular activities and encouraged him to elaborate on most of the thoughts or subjects he brought up. She taught him some radio etiquette and shared her own childhood experiences but did not try to tell Meixner if what he was saying was right or wrong.
“The show just helps kids feel powerful in their own identities,” Helen said. “When I’m in the station, I tell myself that I am here just to invest in this kid.”