Zoom in very close . . . . No! Not that close . . . right! Now leave it there." Kimberly Maher, just turned 14, gave her cameraman final instructions, checked her image on a video monitor, composed herself and read.
"From the White House, President Reagan has ordered a continuation of mandatory draft registration for 18-year-old males," she said, reading from a large-print script the cameraman held. The first program of a new Washington area news show, "Washington News/Kidstyle," was in the making.
Kimberly, a freshman at Rockville's Thomas S. Wootton High School, is an imperturbably self-assured teen-ager who has left behind most other interests to devote most of her free hours to television and news.
This spring she persuaded directors of the new Montgomery County Cablevision channel, Montgomery County's new cable television network, they needed a news show produced, written, hosted and edited by a young person -- namely, herself. The cable channel, temporarily broadcasting only to Gaithersburg, will begin airing her first "Kidstyle" 15-minute newscast in January, and Kimberly is busy putting it together.
"I live in Washington, the news capital of the world," she said last week, "and yet there's no news show produced here from young people's point of view."
Kimberly's first newscast probably will include items on draft registration, a visit to the zoo, an interview with TV anchorman Frank Reynolds and a calendar of events for youths around the region.
The Gaithersburg resident has been making her own video programs at school since fourth grade. In the course of her career, she has interviewed or filmed such notables as Reynolds, Nancy Reagan, Jimmy Carter and ballerina Amanda McKerrow.
She approached several cable stations early this year with the idea for her show. "I thought it was a real interesting idea," said Mindy Snyder, director of public access for the Montgomery channel. "We sat down with Kimberly and her mother and talked about her ideas and her needs. She wanted a crew, and we worked it out."
Like any other citizen who requests and is granted cable access time, Kimberly borrows cameras and other necessary equipment from the cable company, uses the channel's editing rooms and delivers a prepared tape to the channel, which then airs it.
Four students from Montgomery College and the University of Maryland agreed to work as technicians on her show in exchange for course credits. Jamie Maher, 11, Kimberly's brother, is a selfless volunteer carrier and occasional sportscaster. A sixth assistant, John Ruggiero, 21, is provided by the Montgomery channel. On a recent weekday he was helping her film.
Kimberly sat in her "newsroom," a small clearing in the basement playroom of the comfortable home on Citreon Court where she lives with Jamie; her father, Theodore, an Agriculture Department program director, and her mother, Hatholyn, a safety-seal inspector for the Consumer Products Safety Commission.
A plywood desk built by Jamie and Kimberly was her only prop, except for a program logo designed by an assistant.
Kimberly crisply explained to Ruggiero his task for the afternoon: He was to film three news segments as she read them from a script he would hold above the camera. Ruggiero took his instructions quietly and prepared his equipment as Kimberly donned a suit jacket and pinned a microphone to the lapel.
Kimberly, finally ready to read, suddenly was a bundle of nerves. She looked down for a second and then was ready to face the camera with a disquietingly practiced smile.
"Coming up next is a really neat special report on some unusual Washingtonians," she read in carefully modulated tones. It was teaser to her next story on zoo animals.
Ruggiero stopped the camera. Kimberly expelled her breath in one long whoosh and bowed her head between her hands, massaging her temples with impeccably manicured fingers. She looked up. "Next," she said quietly.
"What I would really like is an 'angel,' " Kimberly said later. "You know those people Broadway actors find that take them up and sponsor them? I need that. This is so much hard work it's killing me. 'Shoots' should be fun and they're not. I only do them now because television is what I love. I want to go national with this program."
Television has played a key role in Kimberly's life since she signed up for a special class on video while in fourth grade at Du Fief Elementary School. Within months she produced an eight-minute videotape that won an award in the Montgomery County Children's Film Festival. The program was about a Rockville ice skater who dreamed of going to the Winter Olympics.
With her mother at her side, Kimberly made the leap this summer from pushing her equipment around in a little red wagon to driving back and forth to the Montgomery station to pick up professional gear.
Hatholyn Maher is always willing to drive her daughter to one more shoot, to encourage her to make one more phone call to the White House requesting an interview with the first lady or to look for one more outlet where her daughter's talent can be displayed.
An easy camaraderie exists between the two, and Kimberly is at her most relaxed when she reminisces with her mother about earlier adventures and escapades. On a recent afternoon, they giggled together over tea and crumb cake as they told about the hazards of hauling the red wagon to President Reagan's inauguration.
"There was this beautiful press stand right in front of me, and I was standing on my father's shoulders trying to film," Kimberly laughed. "Now that I think about that, it was embarrassing, you know?" she told her mother. "But nobody was laughing at me."
Briskly rolling up cables and wires at the end of an afternoon's shoot, she paused when asked about her outside interests. She said she liked ballet this summer, but "this is really what I want to be doing now. I have all these stories I want to do."