This week, we bid farewell to Merv Smith; broadcasting and narrating legend. Merv has worked at the Blind Foundation for 48 years; during this time, he’s narrated nearly 200 books and countless magazines, and has won three ‘Narrator of the Year’ awards. His books have ranged from Harry Potter right through to New Zealand Century of Greatest Cricketers and everything in between.
Merv is a household name; for over 25 years he fronted the breakfast show on Auckland’s 1ZB, New Zealand’s first commercial radio station. He has also featured in countless radio and television commercials as well as a children’s video series called Buzz and Poppy.
Merv’s farewell from the Blind Foundation was a fitting morning tea, complete with laughter, plenty of banter and lots of sausage rolls. It was attended by fellow narrators, colleagues, members, and his wife, Jill.
Joe Gilfillan, Audio Post Production Technician, shared a wonderful story about Merv and his natural talent of narrating National Geographic.
“I had the pleasure of sitting in the studio one day, watching Merv tackle National Geographic. National Geographic goes to far and distant corners of the planet where people and places have long names. Merv had not pre-read the issue, and I was even more in awe of him than I had been before as he just rattled off these names like they were Smith and Brown and Jones, and the people next door he had spoken to for years. The sight reading skills that Merv has, I think are pretty much unparalleled, it’s an unbelievable skill.”
Joe went on to say, “The reason the members engage so much with Merv’s work is that there is passion and there is life in it. He creates characters – when you’re listening to a story that Merv’s reading, you can actually hear the person. It’s pretty much like watching the movie or the TV series of it.”
Denise Kitto, National Manager Customer Service and Advice, thanked Merv for his services on behalf of the Blind Foundation.
“I want to express our thanks for your service and the work that you’ve done. Forty-eight years, that’s a remarkable achievement. You’ve been involved in a remarkable range over that time period.
“We’ve already mentioned that you won Narrator of the Year, that to me is a real testament to how our clients enjoy listening to what it was that you produced. We receive phone calls every single day about the library service and the difference that it makes to our clients and their lives. It is extraordinary – what you and the other narrators have done – your legacy lives on.
“I want to wish you all the best for your retirement from narrating. Thank you for your commitment and your passion for the work that you do. You’ve made a difference and I know that you’ll be missed.”
Marie, a member who was present added, “On behalf of the members, we really appreciate the rich emphasis you put on all of the work that you do and that you’ve done for us over the years. Your work will live long after you’ve gone away from us because the children coming up will benefit from it as well. Thank you very much on behalf of members, clients, readers.”
Phil Turner, Merv’s manager, summed it up perfectly.
“Merv, you are an institution around here and we are going to miss you. You’re always welcome here. Best of luck, we hope to see you around a bit more.”
The studio team are making an audio CD for Merv. If you wish to leave a message for Merv, dial into TIS on 302 33 44 and go to option 1 6 where the system will invite you to record something. This option will be open until midday, Monday 7 August.