A college radio station, small-town newspaper and
big-city broadcast professional have teamed up to create a unique program that
transports Wisconsin high school students into the wide world of radio.
Day team members, instructors, friends and family enjoy a game of bowling. From
left to right: state Rep. Andy Jorgensen and daughter Camryn, Rock River Lanes owner
Rick Rector, Amanda Gilbert, WSUW(FM) Station Manager Kyle Johns, instructor
Dan Pettegrew, Orion Schuyler, Nate Gilbert and state Rep. Steve Nass.
The first Teen Day Broadcasting Program was presented
Sept. 5 through Dec. 19, 2012, by 91.7 “The Edge,” WSUW(FM), on the University
of Wisconsin-Whitewater campus, and by the Daily Jefferson County Union in Fort
Atkinson, of which I am managing editor.
“We selected area teens, 14 and up, as broadcast team
members,” said organizer Dan Pettegrew. “Using local music, education and
sports activities as homework assignments, Teen Day introduced them to the
radio station environment firsthand.”
A Fort Atkinson High School graduate, Pettegrew has
been employed in the broadcast industry since 1987, mainly in Los Angeles. His
résumé includes commercial scheduling for the Los Angeles Dodgers Radio Network
at Clear Channel Communications and a stint as broadcast traffic director for
Pacific Public Radio and U.S. International Media.
I joined WSUW Station
Manager Kyle Johns and Pettegrew teaching the mechanics of producing radio
broadcasts through interviewing, programming, promotion, production, traffic,
sales and billing instruction.
For two hours
each week, the public library’s community room was transformed into a radio
studio where the six students wrote interview questions, recorded radio
announcements and prepared for their broadcasts.
Sessions included recording promotions for business sponsors;
a fieldtrip to WSUW; a Saturday at Busy Barns Adventure Farm, where the teens
interviewed state legislative candidates; and recording interviews with, and
songs by, members of local band Searching for Seas.
The teens also hosted a Veterans Day Tribute at the
American Legion that featured patriotic music and interviews with UW-Whitewater
Reserve Officer Training Corps cadets and veterans who served in World War II, and
the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars; and they did a play-by-play broadcast of a
high school boys’ basketball game, complete with pre- and post-game coach
interviews and a halftime conversation with the Daily Union’s sportswriter.
Schuyler shares his headphones with a young visitor during the Busy Barns
Adventure Farm interviews.
A closing reception included the presentation of
certificates, refreshments and a friendly game of bowling with state Reps. Andy
Jorgensen and Steve Nass, both of whom participated in broadcasts earlier in
“Students should take advantage of hands-on learning
opportunities now that will give them an advantage later, when they’re looking
for a job,” said Jorgensen, a former radio personality himself. “I’m pleased to
join Teen Day to help educate our young people and prepare them for the
While the program is designed to provide career
guidance, it also helps the teens hone important life and character skills:
teamwork, decision-making, public speaking, interviewing, budgeting,
self-confidence, respect, dependability, professionalism and responsibility.
Nathan Gilbert of Fort Atkinson is interested in sports
broadcasting and hopes to work someday for ESPN.
“I am excited about having an opportunity not too many
others have had,” Gilbert said. “I want to learn what it takes to be successful
in the broadcasting field.”
Amanda Gilbert of Jefferson also is eyeing a
broadcasting career. She and two fellow participants were interviewed about Teen
Day on the www.blogtalkradio.com segment, “At Eye Level.”
“I loved it! It was really cool and … gave me a look
into my future,” she said, calling Teen Day “amazing.”
“I’d like to
just take in as much as they can teach me,” she added.
Alex Scullin of Fort Atkinson said she joined Teen Day
“to try this broadcasting experience to see if it's right for me.”
And her goal?
“To have my own little podcast radio show.”
The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association is excited
about Teen Day, too.
Gilbert of Fort Atkinson, Wis., holds the microphone as ROTC cadets introduce
themselves at the Teen Day Veterans Tribute.
“Teen Day is a terrific initiative,” said WBA
President Michelle Vetterkind. “We fully support the program. It is a great
concept and wonderful opportunity for our teens to get involved with the
Participation is free for teens, while tax-deductible
sponsorships cover the $8,400 budget. However, attracting sponsors has been a
Those that signed on at $700 each ― Rock River Lanes, 2
Rivers Bicycle and Outdoor and Diversified Personnel Services/Opportunities
Inc. ― received a lot of print, website, radio and event exposure.
On WSUW, each sponsor got 14 weekly promos (two
15-second spots per day), 30-second underwriting insertion in all broadcast
assignments and acknowledgements at the opening and closing ceremonies. That
totaled 228 promos per sponsor, not to mention outside media coverage.
In addition to
fine-tuning the curriculum and signing up next fall’s participants, the main
task right now is raising funds and finding sponsors.
“Teen Day is a great opportunity, not only for teens,
but for WSUW, the Daily Union, local businesses and the area at large,”
Pettegrew said. “We are promoting community journalism.”
more information on Teen Day, call (920) 397-9178 or email email@example.com. Links to all broadcasts and photos are available on
Teen Day’s Facebook page.
Christine Spangler is managing editor for The
Daily Jefferson County Union.