May 16, 2012, will mark the first High School Radio Day, a day where high school radio stations across the country will unite to raise awareness of their existence. Founded by Pete Bowers, faculty adviser to Andover High School’s WBFH in Bloomfield Hills, MI, after getting involved with last year’s College Radio Day, the day is set to include publicity pushes, interviews and a nationwide Web chat with participating stations. Of the 200 active high school radio stations, as estimated by Bowers, nearly 30 have already signed on in support. With more than a dozen states being represented and support coming from College Radio Day and broadcasting organizations like Michigan Association Of Broadcasters, Bowers hopes that High School Radio Day can become an annual event. Stations interested in participating can do so through High School Radio Day’s website.
 
Why did you pick May for High School Radio Day?
I suggested that High School Radio Day be held in May, which is the month the first high school radio station signed on the air in 1949 (WNAS, New Albany, IN). Also, I wanted to have it before our schools got off for the summer and a good five months’ separation between HSRD and [College Radio Day].
 
Were you involved with College Radio Day last year?
I did register our station even though we were a high school station because I wanted to support their efforts to bring attention to college radio.
 
What is College Radio Day doing to help support High School Radio Day?
I have talked with the founder and president of CRD, Rob Quicke, who has given me some good advice for putting on our “Day” since they already did their “Day” last October. He has contacted other high school stations who registered for CRD to register for HSRD. We also have been endorsed by CBI, IBS and Michigan Association Of Broadcasters Foundation.
 
Why do you think there are so few high school radio stations?
It’s not easy getting one. It takes a lot of effort by someone at a school district to submit the proper paperwork to the FCC to get a license. Then you need the facilities and equipment, which can be expensive. Then they need to hire someone competent to manage the station. Then there are the costs of operating the station. That’s probably why a lot of high schools have had the plug pulled on them and went dark.
 
Why are high school stations so important?
It’s a two-sided coin. We educate high school students to be proficient as broadcasters over the public airwaves, job one. Second, our stations serve our communities well and make for great public relations vehicles for our school districts.
 
How are you spreading the word about HSRD?
We have given participating stations press release templates that they can use to send to local media. We’ve sent that press release to national media. We have links to our website on the CRD website, CBI website and IBS website. I’ve set up Facebook and Twitter accounts.
 
Do students receive class credit, or is it an extracurricular activity?
Class credit. I teach an intro class titled Exploring Electronic Media and an advanced class titled WBFH Staff.
 
Do you go off air during the summer or invite the community to get involved?
Our school district doesn’t budget for managers to work in the summer, so we have no live programs, but we are automated 24/7/365.
 
What sort of community/school involvement do you have?
We love to do remotes in our community, which is in Bloomfield Hills, a suburb of Detroit. Our favorite remote is at the Woodward Dream Cruise where a million people come out to watch 30,000 cars drive up and down Woodward Avenue.