Jasper High School launched an as yet unnamed —students are still working on that— radio station on Feb. 19. The whopping .25 watt station can be heard in the school and the east parking lot at 93.7 FM and 960 AM.
This is the third media product to come out of the new course at the high school. The class became available for the 2012 – 2013 academic year and about 40 students are split between three morning classes.
Students produce media and content for several different outlets they maintain. “Students are getting some basic information about interactive digital media,” Elrod explained. “We started with digital photography and then began producing a weekly YouTube video as well as updating the Wildcat Weekly website, and now we launched the radio.”
Carson Popp and Savannah Kerstiens, both sophomores, said they have become interested in pursuing digital media as a career because of what they have learned and experienced in the class. “I really like making something the whole school gets to see and hear,” Savannah said. “We are doing a commercial for radio and TV and I am really enjoying that.”
Carson, who says he would like to work in the music industry, agrees, “These are skills we can use anywhere.”
Students use a content management system to write articles for the schools online news site, Wildcat Weekly; shoot video for the weekly YouTube broadcast that is maintained on their YouTube Channel; and are now creating playlists and commercials for the radio station. According to Elrod, the kids are picking up a lot of skills that are ancillary to developing digital media. “When kids get behind a mic, it is the same as getting in front of an audience. You have the same fears and it’s the same for video,” he explained.
Next year the class may be split into more specialized groups of study. “This year was a little bit of everything, but next year the classes will be split into Intro to Communications for one semester and Interactive Media for another,” Elrod said. “and further specialize with Radio/TV 1 and Radio/TV 2.”
Students are excited about picking the music mix for the station and are looking forward to developing commercials and interviews. “We are going to create shifts for them to be talking on the air,” Elrod said. “So from 7:30 to 8:00 a.m. they will be on the radio broadcasting school news. They better have their stuff together and know what they want to talk about.”
The radio antenna was built from a kit Elrod purchased through grant money. The antenna provides enough coverage to be heard in the school and the parking lot adjacent to the classroom. Elrod says once he has the antenna in a better position, it should cover the school property and, as long as it doesn’t interfere with any other signals, will be able to operate for free.
Elrod’s first love is radio, he is the Program Director at WBDC, and said he was thinking about launching the radio station as soon as the class started. “I listened to the radio as a kid and knew this is what I wanted to do. I wanted to be that guy entertaining on the radio,” he said. “And I was surprised to see that magic is still alive with the students. They haven’t been allowed to talk on the radio yet, but there is a lot of interest. I have a student that is constantly over here and I can see he just wants to grab the mic and go.”
Here is a video of the launch of JHS Radio (not its official name).