2018 Viola Award Finalist for Excellence in Storytelling
Jim Cheff is the creator, writer and producer of ‘Mary Farfisa’s Outer Space Radio Theater’ – Arizona’s only locally-produced radio adventure for kids. It’s heard every Saturday morning on Radio Sunnyside, 101.5 FM.
Jim has written and recorded 35 half-hour ‘Mary Farfisa’ radio plays since its debut in January of 2016. The show has utilized the talents of dozens of local actors and musicians, many of them children under the age of twelve years old. He creates new scripts weekly for the creative radio program. Jim has also writes original music for ‘Mary Farfisa’, and works with a variety of local musicians on the production of original songs for the show.
As a cartoonist, Jim brings Mary Farfisa to the children of Flagstaff through coloring books and online comic strips which he posts on the show’s facebook page (facebook.com/maryfarfisa). A community member states “He is a unique illustrator, and has been out in the community meeting many fans and listeners of his show, giving out stickers and pictures to color, and promoting his works.”
Jim draws live sketches of Mary Farfisa and her friends at special events hosted by local non-profits such as the Arboretum and the Children’s Music and Art Fair. He also brings his microphone to these events, and records kids doing show promos and jokes to be broadcast during Mary Farfisa shows. Jim also recorded a local ‘Music Together’ class, and made it part of a Mary Farfisa adventure.
Now finishing Mary Farfisa’s second year of production with 15 brand new radio plays, Jim has started telling Mary Farfisa’s stories in other mediums. The December issue of Northern Arizona Mountain Living Magazine featured a three-page ‘Mary Farfisa’ picture story as a holiday treat for kids.
Episodes of ‘Mary Farfisa’ were selected for broadcast in Scotland in 2016 and 2017. They were broadcast on Saturday mornings as part of ‘Radiophrenia’, an annual FM radio event that highlights noteworthy radio productions from around the world, broadcast from Glasgow’s Center for Contemporary Art.
The Mary Farfisa show has been the subject of articles in the Arizona Daily Sun, Flag LIVE!, Mountain Living, and Que Pasa! 4FlagTV produced a video feature about the making of the ‘Mary Farfisa’ show during its first year of production.
From the nomination letter:
“Jim has produced over 30 episodes of original children’s radio theater using local talent, what more can I say. These are full length scripts he churns out weekly. He’s a huge part of what it means to be an actor in Flagstaff and his show is female-centric. He also has made a coloring book of all his characters, a unique illustrator himself, and has been out in the community, meeting many fans and listeners of his shows, giving stickers and promoting his works. He’s hugely supportive of his voice actors and goes out of his way to support them beyond Mary Farfisa.”