The door to the soundproof booth closed and the producer counted down until the mic was hot. On the count of one, the disc jockey made his take and it was over.
Gannon State was just doing his job, but his mom sure loved hearing her third-grader on the air that evening.
New Albany High School’s inaugural WNAS Radio Camp taught 11 students, including State, the basics of preparing for and recording broadcasts, but also gave them a chance to make their debut on the airwaves.
Jason Flener, the new general manager for WNAS-FM (88.1), said he and the former general manager, Lee Kelly, had talked about starting the camp before Kelly retired.
“It sets an interest,” Flener said. “This is one of the bright spots of New Albany High School. We are one of the very few schools that can say we have a radio and TV station broadcasting from their campus. If we can get kids involved in the broadcast, the community gets involved, they get to see what we have to offer here.”
He said students learned about the equipment and some of the legal matters involved in broadcasting, but they also got to introduce songs, produce interviews and put together on-air pieces.
Some of the students came from elementary and middle schools in Floyd County, but others came a long way to get an education in broadcast.
Ireland Dozall, an incoming eighth-grader at Horace Mann school in Wichita, Kan., said she visits her grandparents in New Albany in the summer. Her grandparents had heard about the camp and thought she’d be interested in attending.
“I’m really into visual and audio things,” Dozall said. “I want to become a director, so this is just more experience for me.”
Chloe Drake, an incoming sixth-grader at Holy Family school, said she’s already got big plans for her career, so she wanted to make sure she could handle a radio studio early on.
“You get to tell people that you’re at the camp,” Drake said. “I might be on the radio because when I grow up, I’m going to be an actor and a singer.”
Older students also got involved in the camp. Flener said four of his students helped the younger peers with the camp, and a graduate came back to volunteer, too.
He said that while one camper was in the studio at a time, the high schoolers had one of the more difficult tasks — entertaining the others.
“You can’t have everyone on the air at the same time,” Flener said. “You have to have a number of things going on at the same time and the high school students have really stepped up to provide that.”
Tre Bright, an incoming senior at New Albany, is getting ready to start his third year with the program. He said aside from keeping students occupied while others were recording, he and his friends had to give some campers a little confidence.
“I know I liked it a lot, so it’s fun to inspire them to go into the field,” Bright said. “You’ve got to push them because of shyness, so you have to build them up to get them to go on air.”
Sydney Welch, another incoming senior, said she liked passing along some of the knowledge she’s learned.
“It’s actually kind of fun,” Welch said. “I tutored for the leadership program here. I have a lot more experience in radio, so I’m more comfortable teaching it.”
Flener said his high-schoolers are already thinking of new themes for the next round of camps, which may not be an annual event. He said they may bring in another round of youths during fall break or other points during the school year.
He said with the positive feedback from the community and the fun had by the kids, he’s ready to go for the next camp.
“When they make the take and they say, ‘Yeah, that’s OK,’ you’ve made their day,” Flener said. “You don’t get to make a kid’s day every day, but I got to do it several times today.”