Whanganui stories revealed in podcast series

By Anne-Marie McDonald

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Cass Alexander and Zaryd Wilson recording their Revisited podcast.
Cass Alexander and Zaryd Wilson recording their Revisited podcast.

Some of Whanganui more remarkable stories have been brought to life in a six-part podcast called Revisited.

The first episode of the free podcast was released on iTunes and Soundcloud this week.

Produced by Cass Alexander and Zaryd Wilson, each episode of Revisited focuses on one event in Whanganui's history: the Aramoho Zoo, the murder of Chow Yat, the shooting of poet D'Arcy Cresswell by then-mayor Charles Mackay, the anti-German riot of 1915, the bombing of the Wanganui Computer Centre by Neil Roberts, and the bomb threat at Star FM.

The podcast came about after Ms Alexander and Mr Wilson discovered a mutual interest in Whanganui's history and in podcasts.

"We decided that we would focus on stories with a fantastical element to them - the sort of stories that are almost hard to believe happened in Whanganui," Ms Alexander said.

"We had to narrow them down, because there are so many potential stories to tell about Whanganui."

Each episode is 30 to 40 minutes long and includes a narration by either Ms Alexander or Mr Wilson, followed by interviews with historians and family members of those involved in the original events.

A highlight for the pair was visiting the site of the former Aramoho Zoo - believed to be the first provincial zoo in the world, which had lions, leopards, polar bears and many other animals - to discover remnants of the zoo still remain. The site is now part of a residential area.

Ms Alexander said she was pleased to be able to keep some of the lesser-known stories alive, although she admits there are still mysteries that are yet to be explained about some of the stories.

Mr Wilson said he was surprised by people's willingness to talk openly about what was, in some cases, personal family history.

He said researching, writing and producing the podcast helped him understand Whanganui better, and where the city had come from.

"Whanganui was a crazy place - maybe it still is."

The pair began working on the podcast in March, and tried to keep as much of the production as local as possible. The website and graphic design was done in Whanganui; the podcasts were recorded in Whanganui; and the music was provided by Whanganui band Castlecliff Lights.

They received funding from the Whanganui Creative Communities scheme. They are already planning a second series.

The first episode of the podcast was released on Thursday, and the remaining five episodes will be released on consecutive Thursdays. For more information, visit http://revisitedpodcast.org. Or search for Revisted on iTunes or Soundcloud.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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