Cartolina: Italian radio programme presented by Wilma Laryn

Cartolina: Italian radio programme presented by Wilma Laryn

Cartolina is a fortnightly programme on community radio station Plains FM96.9 that presents information on Italian culture and local events with Italian connections in the friendly, laid-back style of its producer, Wilma Laryn (see photo).

The title, Cartolina, is Italian for Postcard, referring to the easy-going way of presenting the show’s message.

“A letter is a formal way of communication, while a postcard is always light-hearted,” says Wilma.

“Italian expatriates like to hear about their country of origin and the connections that can be made with the country they now live in.

“Also, many New Zealanders have a long-distance love affair with Italy but know little about it. So, Cartolina, which is presented in English as well as Italian, brings Italy to everyone, no matter what their country of origin.

“You can hear about Italian holidays, food, experiences and music of all kinds in an accessible way. The guests have included ambassadors, farmers, cooks, scientists, children, business people and artists – so many of them since the beginning of the show in February 1999.

“There are stories of successful Italian immigrants. Each guest brings a new story and a different view on life. Even after so many years, each interview teaches something new and often invaluable.”

Two unforgettable interviews were with Italian scientists who were spending a winter at the Concordia base in Antarctica (on the phone); and with the Italian fire-fighters rugby team, who were all squashed into the recording studio.

“It’s the stories of these people who generously share their experiences that make the programme,” says Wilma.

She came to New Zealand from Rome in 1996 with her husband, Alessandro and daughter Fiona. They now live at their Cracroft Chase Vineyard, at the far end of Shalamar Drive, at the bottom of the Cashmere Hills. Wilma is marketing manager of the vineyard, which is the closest to the centre of Christchurch.

In Italy, Wilma worked as a high-school mathematics teacher and served for several years on the Consiglio d’Istituto of the schools. She had also been a consultant for the Ministry of Education in establishing new curricula and a commissioner for teachers’ exams.

In Christchurch, Wilma has been a part-time tutor of Italian for Musicians at the University of Canterbury, and taught Italian at evening classes at the university, the Ara Institute of Canterbury and various high schools. She has also tutored in Italian cooking and presented a 10-episode cooking programme on CTV.

Wilma was president of the Canterbury Dante Alighieri Society from 2000 to 2006 and is still a committee member. In 2005, she received from the Italian Government the title of Cavaliere dell’Ordine della Stella della Solidarieta Italiana, in recognition of her promotion of Italian culture in New Zealand.

In 2013, Wilma started the Dante Language School in Christchurch and, in 2015, she was elected a member of the local Committee of Italian Citizens Residing Abroad, of which she is now vice-president.

One upcoming event of which Wilma is the co-ordinator is Ciao Italia, which will present Italian fun, food and fanfare at The Colombo shopping mall between 6pm to 9.30pm on Wednesday, June 14.

Organised by the Italian Chamber of Commerce with the support of the Dante Society and The Colombo, this Italian theme will continue at the mall throughout the month. June 14 will also be the opening evening of the two-week Italian Film Festival at Academy Gold Cinema, which is also at The Colombo.

Sponsored by the Christchurch City Council, Cartolina is broadcast at 7.30pm on alternate Wednesdays, with repeats at 10.30am on the following Mondays. Cartolina can also be listened to through podcasts on

- Hans Petrovic

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