'''Radio is like a dinosaur you can't put to sleep.''

People old enough to remember the song Video Killed the Radio Star and the New Zealand music TV programme Radio with Pictures would know how mighty radio once was, before smaller screens threatened to over rule the broadcasting king. They might also take wry pleasure in the fact that, like newspapers, radio is still alive and well, albeit a very differently produced, presented and aired medium these days. One of Northland's most popular stations is NZME's The Hits, anchored in time and place by daytime presenter Charmaine Soljak. But who is the woman behind the mic? Lindy Laird asked her 10 questions.

You grew up in Rotorua, can you tell us about your whakapapa?

I'm Maori - Tainui and Te Arawa te tangata, Irish, Scottish and Italian. I'm a clanswoman for sure. Love my tribes.


How long have you been working on the wireless?

I've been in radio since I was 17, it's a 33-year love affair. I love what I do, the people who let me into their days and share their lives on air with us.

What does it to take to do your job well?

Listening. People think radio announcers' skill is in talking, it's listening.

Your worst, hardest or most embarrassing on-mic experience?

To date the most challenging time for me has been the Christchurch shootings. To deliver the facts, the emotion, the shock and knowing people in Northland who had family, uncles, killed. My body, by the end of the week just did not want to talk anymore. I literally lost my voice.

Why couldn't video kill the radio star?

If we looked at the horror of Christchurch, when people wanted to know what had happened now, hourly, daily, they switched back to traditional media of radio and newspaper. There's an interesting shift even just a few weeks past the attacks where we see revenue being pulled from Facebook and digital platforms. Radio is like a dinosaur you can't put to sleep. It's instant, everywhere, every second. I'm super proud and passionate about our medium.


Sitting in the studio, how do keep connecting to that unseen audience and who is your target listener?

People call me every day and reach out for the smallest to the most interesting things. Like Sarah. She was born in 1970, she has 1.2 kids and would love girlie weekends in Melbourne but is challenged by cash at times, so it doesn't happen as often as she would love.

You're an out-there kind of person, a live wire: Could a shy person be a radio announcer?

I'm a shy person who is now a product of training and development. I used to shake, go bright red when I spoke in front of people. Thanks everyone for your coaching.

You're a competitive crossfit athlete: Have you always been up for a physical challenge?

I grew up in a family of eight. You had to eat fast or someone was going to eat off your plate. If you were in our family, you had to play a sport. All of us were taken to karate, and horse riding where we raced each other. Everything was play, even diving for kai was a competition to see who shot the most fish. Physical challenge? Always. To wind down, I talk to my kids and my stevedore while I cook for them. I love to cook for them.

What is your favourite food and holiday destination?

Seafood, all kaimoana. And Hawaii. It's historical for Maori, we identify with each other. It feels like going home, the heat, the water, flowers, scent...

Finally, what advice would you give to the girl you once were?

Don't get that perm.