by SARAH ROBERTS
Aaron Dahmen dreams of one day hosting a prime time multimedia show and at its backbone will be his Catholic values.
The 19-year-old already heads his own digital radio show and multimedia network. He’s worked for The Edge radio station and has won national writing and speech competitions.
Aaron, who went to Sacred Heart College in Auckland, also found the time to be the youth MP for the Tamaki electorate last year.
So it is not surprising that he was one of three awarded a Christian Broadcasting Association (CBA) scholarship this year to help launch his media career.
“My faith plays a big part in my everyday life. It’s those core values I come back to in my work.”
“As a journalist I remain unbiased, but without a core or ethical value the media is polarised and you can easily be sucked into that vacuum,” he said. “I think everyone needs some sort of core or ethical values, not necessarily religious, to work in this industry. I come back to my values actively.”
Aaron, whose family went to St Mark’s parish in Pakuranga, put the $2500 scholarship money towards studying for a Bachelor of Broadcasting Communications, specialising in broadcast journalism, at The New Zealand Broadcasting School in Christchurch, where he is currently in his first year.
Aaron has had a strong interest in both politics and journalism since he was nine years old.
He hosts a web radio and talk programme where he discusses political issues from around the world and various other topics.
“When I was 15-years-old, one dream caught in the trees. It became an obsession. A magnitude of social entrepreneurship,” he said.
“I wanted to make politics and other topics more understandable for youth and that’s when The Aaron Dahmen Show (TADS) was born.”
The scholarship money came at a time when Aaron needed it most as his family was struggling to help support his dream financially.
His father, Christian Dahmen, died aged 47 of motor neuron disease on December 29 in 2011. Mr Dahmen was the St Mark’s Parish Council chairperson.
The parish priest at the time was Fr Raphael Lobo, who is now serving at East Coast Bays parish in Mairangi Bay in Auckland. Fr Lobo was with Aaron when he received his scholarship award.
Aaron draws many of his Catholic values from his father’s influence. “Prayer became an important part of my life during this time. I became closer to God. I worked to bring faith into my everyday life,” Aaron says.
Aaron says his mother, Dagmar Andres, and his father separated in 2009, but they remained on good terms. She took care of his father when he was sick.
His mother recently returned to Mainz in Germany, where they are originally from, leaving her only child behind to pursue his dream. Aaron plans to visit his Mum at Christmas.
Aaron said he is still looking for a suitable parish in his new home and has found it difficult with the Christchurch re-build.
In August, he travelled to Auckland to receive the CBA media award and scholarship. The announcement of the award had been made earlier in the year.
The association said he was “an outstanding individual motivated by mature convictions to make the world a better place”.
Aaron first set out to put his mark on the world on ANZAC Day in 2015.
He started The Aaron Dahmen Show, otherwise known as TADS, a weekly radio show that evolved into live Facebook televised debates.
At last count, the show reached 2.1 million people worldwide via social media. Around 10 budding journalists volunteer on the show and it is funded by crowdsourcing.
“It’s a ‘snackable’ content show with a youth news analysis approach. We take the big issues and tone it down so it’s more understandable for our viewers,” Aaron said. He claims his radio show to be the “world’s only ‘snackable’ radio show”. Aaron has conducted interviews with his media favourite John Campbell and been invited as a media personality on the Jono and Ben Show. He’s also worked with Mike McRoberts and Michelle Pickles.
Aaron is a keen footballer in his spare time.
He was the captain of New Zealand 19s Futsal Representative Squad at the World Cup qualifiers last year. A few years ago, he tried out for the Liverpool Football Club in England.
Aaron’s been out of the game for the past year due to injury, but has kept up appearances as the Futsal national league media officer for New Zealand Football and as a referee. He’s hoping to be back on the field next season.
Other people who received CBA scholarships were Matthew Rosenberg, who is studying for a Bachelor of Communications degree, and Amy Tempero, who has just finished studying Broadcasting Communication, majoring in radio.
Go to Facebook and search “thisisTADS” to follow The Aaron Dahmen Show. Go to givealittle.co.nz and search for TADS if you would like to help fund Aaron’s radio show.