LIMA, Peru (AP) — It was the golden age of radio and World War II still raged when Maruja Venegas began broadcasting a show for Peru’s children.
Sixty-eight years later, her “Radio Club Infantil” is still on the air, making the 97-year-old Venegas the globe’s longest-running radio personality, according to Guinness World Records.
“The children of yesterday are all grown now. They’ve married. They are grandparents today. So it’s them, the grandparents, who support me most,” she told The Associated Press in an interview in her home in a middle-class district of the capital.
“A lot of grandparents sit their grandchildren down to listen to the program,” she said, stooped by age but still elegant with earrings and a camel-colored coat.
Venegas was a popular announcer on music programs when she launched the show on Dec. 18, 1944, at the request of government officials to entertain ailing children at a public hospital. The first commercial black and white television broadcasts were still more than a decade in the future for Peru. In the United States, “Fibber McGee and Molly” and “The Al Jolson Show” were going strong.
Venegas’ show became so popular in the 1950s that it drew Peru’s top singers and performers. It had contests, helped make careers. Listeners persuaded her to open a school in 1956. But when the country fell on hard times in the late 1980s, Venegas was forced to close it.
The show went on, however, even if Venegas began doing it by telephone from home when she reached age 90, and the program that once aired twice a week is now down to a single half-hour slot at 6 p.m. on Sundays, carried by Santa Rosa, a religion-oriented station. She still prepares her own programs, which always include a story, music, advice and commentary.
And she does it without pay, as she always has through the decades.
“My mother told me that I should never charge for Radio Club Infantil because it was for children and for the ill,” Venegas recalled.
She could have used the money.
Venegas, who never married, has limited funds and like most people her age, physical limitations to address. She says she suffers from diabetes.
“I’ve lost eyesight. I can only see through one eye,” she said. “But I remain optimistic”
She lives alone on an $870 a month pension that is not sufficient to support her and the 89-year-old sister with whom she lives. In order to pay the two people who care for them, she had to sell the second floor of her house.
Now, she’s thinking of selling part of the first floor.
More Related Stories
- This is what Guy Fieri looks like as a balloon
- Mariah Carey's rambling, cursing, dress-popping "Good Morning America" concert
- Fox's new reality TV show threatens regular people with unemployment
- Amanda Bynes arrested after hurling bong from window
- Steamy lesbian-sex movie has Cannes abuzz
- Stop what you're doing and go watch "Borgen"
- Teenage girl claims she was beaten up for looking like Taylor Swift
- Mike Judge: "Bowling for Columbine" made me pro-gun
- New York chef serves up eight-course meal around "Arrested Development" jokes
- HLN: Jodi Arias "pleading for her life" got us a ratings win!
- Michael Ian Black on Maron feud: He "considered me a poseur"
- Chekhov's story mirrors Russia's own
- Pussy Riot member Maria Alyokhina denied parole
- Joe Francis apologizes for calling jury "retarded"
- Mary Karr: David Foster Wallace and I kept each other alive
- Morgan Freeman sleeps during televised interview
- J.J. Abrams reveals deleted shower scene with Benedict Cumberbatch
- Is the anti-gay backlash on?
- Paul McCartney backs Pussy Riot
- Cannes: Ryan Gosling's new movie draws the boo-birds
- Radio host tweets rape joke, blames journalists for reporting on it
Featured Slide Shows
The week in 10 picsclose X
- 1 of 11
Lisa Montgomery embraces her nephew Thursday after a tornado tore apart her home in Cleburne, Texas. The twister killed six people and destroyed entire swaths of the North Texas town.
Credit: AP/LM Otero
Jack McMahon, the defense attorney for abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell, speaks outside the Criminal Justice Center in Philadelphia Tuesday. His client was convicted of killing three babies in his clinic, and will serve multiple life sentences.
Credit: AP/Matt Rourke
A photo taken Monday captures Vice President Joe Biden's response to a Milwaukee second-grader's innovative proposal to end America's epidemic of gun violence. This guy!
Credit: AP/Jenny Aicher
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., flanked by a grouper-eyed Michele Bachmann, addresses the IRS' admission that it targeted Tea Party groups in advance of the 2012 election. In an op-ed for CNN Thursday, the Kentucky senator slammed the president for his faux outrage.
Credit: AP/Molly Riley
Ousted IRS chief Steven Miller is sworn in on Capitol Hill Friday. Miller testified before the House Ways and Means Committee on the extra scrutiny the agency gave conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status.
Credit: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
Attorney General Eric Holder pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill before the House Judiciary Committee Wednesday. Holder is under fire, among other things, for the Justice Department's gathering of phone records at the Associated Press.
Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing at Clark County District Court in Las Vegas, Nev., Thursday. Simpson, who is currently serving a nine-to-33-year sentence in state prison for armed robbery and kidnapping, is using a writ of habeas corpus to seek a new trial.
Credit: AP/Las Vegas Review-Journal/Jeff Scheid
Major Tom to ground control: On Sunday astronaut Chris Hadfield recorded the first music video from space, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity."
Credit: AP/NASA/Chris Hadfield
When it rains it pours. President Barack Obama speaks during a news conference Thursday with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, inexplicably inspiring an #umbrellagate Twitter meme.
Credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin
A smoke plume rises high above a road block at the intersection of County A and Ross Road east of Solon Springs, Wis., Tuesday. No injuries were reported, but the the wildfire caused evacuations across northwestern Wisconsin.
Credit: AP/The Duluth News-Tribune/Clint Austin
Recent Slide Shows
- 1 of 11