The space might be small.
It also might need a few updates in the future.
But for now, it’s more than adequate for Isaiah Schindler and Jackson Stanton.
The Hays High School juniors have found a home for their budding Hays High radio project they’ve been working on with administration to get off the ground the last few months.
“Mr. Balman told us about the room,” Stanton said. “Of course, it’s a little cramped.”
“We’ll have our growing pains,” Schindler said.
“But it gets the job done,” Stanton said. “We got what we need to have.”
The two are under the guidance of HHS teacher Dan Balman, but Balman is quick to deflect the light on the two students who got the project rolling.
When they first approached him about a possible internet radio station, it piqued his interest in a hurry, though.
“When I first went to college, radio is what I wanted to get into,” Balman said. “I studied under Jack Heather at Fort Hays State, and I loved every minute of it. When I came to Hays High, after about four years, there was a position that opened up here, so I moved down here to video production. I’ve always been interested in getting something started in radio, but it always seemed that the video thing was a new thing at Hays High. Really, that was our main focus. For several years, we had people asking about radio. Then these two students came along, and Isaiah was talking to the kid from Russell, Chandler Kitchen. And we got to talking about that we could handle web radio. We spent a lot of the summer researching, and he did most of it. Whatever we found, we sat down and talked about it. Radio has been my passion, and video has been on the back end of it. That’s how they got me roped in. They got excited about it because they knew I would be excited about it. I’m just really proud of them.”
Now, the juniors are in their meager makeshift studio a few doors north of Balman’s classroom — and tuning into the radio world.
But before the two could get the equipment needed, they first needed to convince the administration it was a viable venture.
“We had some daily meetings in the summer, and we kind of progressed when we were talking about internet radio,” Schindler said. “The others were informed what exactly it was, what was behind it. Once we had all the research there, we compiled it into a document and showed it to the administration.”
“I think Mr. Albers had known what we were doing,” Stanton said. “But Mr. Straub seemed like he was kind of surprised almost.”
“They don’t get that many proposals on a sheet of paper, let alone from students,” Schindler said.
In a sense, the switch was flicked.
A few equipment essentials were purchased with the help of the audio/video program’s budget.
And Schindler talked with Kitchen in Russell about that school’s station and what licensing arrangements needed to be made.
That gave him enough of a head start to get things moving.
“We were planning on having a couple podcasts, have the administration come in here or a couple students that have a lively personality so we can interview them and make the station good,” Schindler said. “We’ll play music, too, which will range from the ’60s, classic rock, up to the ’70s, ’80s and ’90s — even some of today’s rock hits, but not much.”
Schindler said he thought his love of meteorology would be his ticket to college, but he’s since grown fond of radio. He thinks that might be an avenue to pursue at college.
For Stanton, he enjoys the music part of it.
“(Isaiah) has been researching it for a year now,” Stanton said. “I got started this semester, and my motivation for wanting to join was music has been my passion my entire life. I’ve loved it my entire life, and I love technology, computers and recording equipment. It was a perfect blend of what I wanted to do. It seemed like a natural choice.”
While their music tastes might differ a bit, they know there will be something for everybody when they tune in. They hope to eventually get the station linked up to the school website, as well as the 489 News website, once everything is settled.
“I’ve heard kids who are excited about it,” Stanton said. “They can listen to it during their down time during school, and it’s a whole new way to spread information, like, ‘Today, we’re having beef tacos for lunch.’ We can also do weather, that sort of stuff. I think kids are getting excited about it.”
Balman said he’s been impressed with the amount of work the two have done so far, and he said Dustin Armbruster — the Voice of the Hays High Indians — has been instrumental as well for the two.
“The other day, I was going down to check on them, and they were working on a podcast,” Balman said. “I just kind of stood outside the door to listen to them, and it was unbelievable — just to listen to them and the conversation they were holding, and I didn’t even know what they were talking about. It was an interesting conversation they were having. It’s like Mr. Albers said, and I agree with him 100 percent because we’ve talked about this, but we will probably see our program grow because they like the radio program. They don’t want to be seen on camera. But being behind a microphone and sharing their feelings and thoughts, we may see some more kids. It’s more opportunity for kids.”
The station will be one of only a handful in Kansas by high-schoolers. Russell has one as well, Bronco Radio, as does Garden City.
“With the foundation these guys have built, I’m hoping for the trickle down aspect of it where the cement is coming down and it’s getting larger and larger and building us a nice tower,” Balman said. “These guys, this is going to be their baby, but they have to feed that off to some other kids that this is going to be great. I just think with a new opportunity for students here, it’s going to open up some new doors. That’s a great opportunity for the kids is to have more electives to chose from. Even though we're kind of under the same pathway, it gives them choices of what to do.”