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Letter: Helping Sisters High School With a Three-Hop Marti

Graduates, families could tune to KNLX and listen while watching from their cars

The author is general manager of KNLR/KNLX in Oregon.

Paul, regarding the article “How WOGO Helped a Wisconsin School Graduate Seniors”:

I don’t know if you want any more graduation stories but I’ll give you ours.

It began when Pastor Jerry Kaping of Wellhouse Church in Sisters, Ore., called the station and wanted us to broadcast a drive-in church service for Easter, which we did as churches were closed.

Sisters High School graduation pic 1
A scene from the graduation event. Photos courtesy Principal Joe Hosang

Since the schools are closed due to the pandemic, the Sisters High School was looking for a way to honor their graduating seniors. Principal Joe Hosang called Pastor Jerry and asked if he thought the Christian station would broadcast their drive-in graduation. And Pastor Jerry generously committed his church to pay for the broadcast.

Graduates and families drove to the Sisters Rodeo grounds, where vehicles were parked, spaced appropriately. They could then turn to KNLX 104.9 and listen to the ceremony while watching seated in their vehicle.

The ceremony started at 6:15 p.m. with graduates singing songs that were pre-recorded. Valedictorian speeches also were pre-recorded. It culminated with seniors walking across the platform, appropriately spaced and wearing masks.

Family members cheer from a social distance.

I’m not sure how many times we played “Pomp and Circumstance” but it was more than several. We concluded around 8:30 p.m.

I’ll say just a little about the technical aspects.

In this day and age of digital I suspect many of the younger broadcasters do not have a clue about the man Marti or the equipment which bears his name. But drive-in church services and drive-in graduation will not work well using streaming devices due to the delay even where an internet connection exists.

In our case this was a three-hop Marti radio link due to terrain (see photo at bottom). One shot to a mountain, a second shot to our main transmitter site and then a shot to the studio. In all, over 60 miles. And it sounded very good.

Yes this was a break in format, but it was something we could do for the kids and the community, and that is what broadcasting is all about … right?


Sisters High graduation pic 3
The graduation dais is at center. The antenna feeding the radio station is faintly visible at far right above the bleachers.