Avondale School District Student Radio Station Turns 40-Years Old

WAHS 89.5 inviting alumni to take the mic at Radio-A-Thon in November

Avondale School District radio station, WAHS is celebrating its 40th anniversary on November 14 with a 12-hour Radio-A-Thon beginning at 10 a.m. Current students and alumni will be on the air for one hour timeslots playing their favorite hits and providing local-flavor commentary and history of the area over the past 40 years.

WAHS 89.5 then and now – 2015 students and students circa 1980 - Vinyl vs CD

WAHS 89.5 then and now – 2015 students and students circa 1980 – Vinyl vs CD

WAHS began broadcasting in 1975 as a 10-watt station from a tower at Avondale High School in Auburn Hills. Today it is the strongest high school radio signal in Michigan at 2400 watts and has the potential to reach 4 million listeners.  The northeast directional signal is usually heard from Auburn Hills to Mt. Clemens along M59 but on July 16, 2015 a listener in London Ontario reported hearing the Sam Smith song “When I See You Again” broadcast on 89.5 WAHS. “The radio station is a jewel and something that sets Avondale apart from other high schools,” said Avondale teacher and radio station advisor, Kim McKnee. “Reaching London that day was such a big deal for us – the students were excited that someone 103 miles away was tuned in to hear them.”

WAHS is staffed by students in the high school’s radio classes where they learn every facet of radio including the history, the various genres of radio programming, terminology, and laws relative to radio. In addition, students develop verbal delivery skills and write show scripts and Public Service Announcements. The audio editing software, Audicity, is taught and available for students to produce assignments. Advanced students, responsible for creating content and programming as well as updating regulation files, are given on-air time and must also promote and manage the station.

Radio class students are currently putting their promotion efforts into the Radio-A-Thon which doubles as a reunion of past radio students and a fundraiser.  The group is hoping to raise $8,500 toward the purchase of a remote broadcast Comrex and another $24,000 to get started on enhancing station automation software. McKnee knows that raising $32,500 is a lofty goal but, she says, “we have some other activities in mind and we’re hoping the Radio-A-Thon builds momentum for future fundraising.”

For McKnee the fundraising is important but she is also excited about celebrating the years of broadcasting at the station and is hoping that many alumni return to the high school for the Radio-A-Thon. “Though the station has seen some changes over the years – staffing changes and equipment upgrades – at the heart of WAHS is still the notion that it is a place where young adults can be creative and insightful and express themselves.”

To sign up to be a DJ at the Radio-A-Thon go to: https://wahsradio.wordpress.com/2015/10/12/40th-anniversary-time-slot-request-form/ or email Kim McKnee at kimberly.mcknee@avondale.k12.mi.us.

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