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How WOGO Helped a Wisconsin School Graduate Seniors

An AM/FM broadcast, a parade through town and even drone video

Great stories keep popping up about how radio stations have been involved in their communities during the COVID mess. Here’s one from Chippewa Falls, Wis.

WOGO, licensed to Stewards of Sound Inc. and heard on FM and AM, says it was approached by the local high school and asked if it would be possible to broadcast a graduation ceremony as it does football games.

“With so many schools going virtual-only for commencement, which disappointed many, they wanted to find a way to give their seniors something special,” said Sales Manager/Promotions Director Caleb Svendsen in an email about the event.

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Sounds like it was a hit. The Chi-Hi “Drive-In Graduation!” featured more than 300 seniors and their families. They started in their decorated vehicles at a fairground; and with the familiar graduation song “Pomp & Circumstance” being played over the air, they processed through town escorted by police. “The community came out to yards and sidewalks to cheer on the Class of 2020 as they listened to the commencement broadcast on WOGO.”

The ceremony was carried on its FM and AM signals and online streaming. The station provided audio to the school’s video stream so relatives and pals could watch and listen. It even arranged for live drone footage that could be watched in real time.

WOGO had prerecorded speeches from the principal and valedictorian. “These speeches were aired as the cars prepared to embark on their procession, and during the journey to the high school to receive diplomas.”

The broadcast also featured senior sports highlights, honored faculty retirees, played the alma mater and school song, and featured student voicemails with “Senior Year Memories.” Music featured the school’s musicians including choirs, orchestras and marching band.

“As the graduates rolled through the bus loop in front of the school and received diplomas from their gloved-and-face-shielded principal, the WOGO graduation play-by-play crew provided live commentary for each and every senior: awards and commendations, future plans, their advice to next year’s class, teacher comments, etc.,” Svendsen wrote. “A percentage of all sponsorship revenue was set aside and, through short essays where seniors both applied and nominated a classmate, $1,600 in scholarships were awarded.”

Favorable June weather helped … and Svendsen adds that the ceremony was shorter than most and not in a hot gym. He called the effort “a collaborative labor of love with school, station and community.”

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