Inspired by the inaugural College Radio Day in 2011, the first annual High School Radio Day is scheduled for May 16, 2012. The idea is to spread the word about high school radio. The date was chosen because apparently the first high school radio station in the United States, WNAS, launched in May 1949 in New Albany, Indiana. High school radio stations are a rarity and that’s part of the impetus behind High School Radio Day. According to the official website,
“Any radio station in a high school should celebrate it’s [sic] existence because there are so few of them nationwide. In Michigan, 1% of the high schools in the state have a radio station. And that number is dropping. Any station still on the air is sometimes considered a ‘survivor’ when other stations have gone dark due to school district budget cuts.”
Although there are student radio organizations that welcome high school radio participants, there isn’t really an organized community specifically for high school radio stations. The website High School Radio has some resources, including a listing of more than 200 high school stations in the United States. There’s also an annual competition, the John Drury High School Radio Awards, which recognizes stellar stations. (By the way, the deadline for 2012 submissions is coming up on Sunday, May 20.)
In the San Francisco Bay Area where I live we are lucky to have a number of high school radio stations, including KSFH 87.9 FM at St. Francis High School and “nostalgia station” KCEA 89.1 FM at Menlo-Atherton High School (although it doesn’t appear to have any student involvement).
In my radio travels I’ve only had the opportunity to visit one high school radio station in Illinois. After hearing Glenbrook South High School’s WGBK (happy 30th anniversary!) on the radio one day while visiting Chicago, I was compelled to set foot in the station and was really excited to see high school kids doing radio. It was refreshing to hear their take on music and radio.
I hope that people do tune in to high school radio on High School Radio Day this year, as it’s a great chance to hear something completely different. So far, 24 stations are official participants and that’s just a sliver of the total number of high school stations in the United States.