Joint project introduces careers in radio and audio to high school students through real-world application via online streaming radio stations.
The HSRP brings real-world radio skills to high school media students in each state, allowing students to curate and schedule music, record radio breaks, produce news and sports stories, interviews, and PSAs, all aired on a streaming radio station heard around the world, 24-hours a day on HighSchoolRadioProject.org, Live365, and Amazon Alexa.
Through partnerships with industry vendors like MusicMaster, PlayoutONE, AllAccess, and Benztown Branding, HSRP students can closely mimic an actual radio station, developing critical communication skills and giving a head start to those who wish to further their radio journey by bolstering college applications and adding valuable skills to their work resumé.
“The NBA board of directors challenged me to seek new ways to get more high school students interested in radio. In thinking about possible options, I recalled a situation from an NBA-sponsored high school media camp where one student whined about going on the campus radio station because radio is “lame” and “no one cares about it.” Camp advisors held their ground, the students went on the air and had so much fun – including the whiner student – that they stayed on into the night and added more on-air time to the camp schedule,” said NBA President/Executive Director Jim Timm.
“Realizing that few students can get a station tour let alone go on the air if they do, my mind moved toward bringing the radio station to their classroom. Once I had the HSRP concept sketched out, I wanted a critical review from someone who could understand the objective and provide needed feedback. Having worked with Jordan Walton of the MBA on other projects, I asked him to hear me out and tell me whether the concept had potential. Jordan fell in love with it, added tremendous technical and practical suggestions, and we took it to our respective boards for approval. Jordan has been an invaluable partner in building out the HSRP,” added Timm.
The first school in Nebraska to get the reins of the HSRP Nebraska station was Millard West High School, led by teacher Mark Hilburn. “The High School Radio Project has been such a fun, hands-on learning experience for both my students and myself. They were quick to learn the ins and outs of the equipment, and have really taken ownership of the process,” said Hilburn. “They enjoy scheduling music, recording news segments and PSAs and voice tracking. We’ve also had really positive feedback from our school, with many teachers playing our Millard West-branded station “The Uproar” in their classes during independent and group work time. My students have even thought about taking this to the next level with live segments, sports and more.”
In Massachusetts, award-winning broadcaster and Watertown High School media teacher Todd Robbins saw a unique opportunity for his radio students to get valuable experience. “School-based student media is the best laboratory for students to experiment with career-ready skills from researching, to writing, to voicing, to editing content for consumption by an audience, and more. The repetitions students gain through the HSRP’s learn-by-doing hands-on model are invaluable. Student broadcasters need a place to learn and experience successes and challenges the same way a student driver does. The HSRP creates the perfect balance of opportunity to thrive or struggle in a safe environment,” said Robbins.
MBA Executive Director Jordan Walton added, “listening to the Watertown students grow with the HSRP over the last few months has been incredibly rewarding. The students have honed their skills through our thorough website training curriculum, instruction from Todd, and repetition on the air. You can hear them become more comfortable with the cadence of radio, the material they’re presenting, telling a concise story, and finding their own unique ‘schtick.’ It’s been a home run for the MBA.”
The High School Radio Project was quickly supported by both the NBA and MBA boards of directors in late 2021 and early 2022, respectively. The associations carefully crafted the two stations which can broadcast an alternative, country, or Top 40 format, before handing the stations over to the high school students tasked with making the station their own.
Long-term the goal is to have similar HSRP stations run by other state broadcasters associations, creating a streaming network of HSRP stations and generating interest in those pursuing radio as a college major and, ultimately, a career.
Starting this fall, the HSRP will add a third stream with students from Michigan joining in the radio fun. Michigan Association of Broadcasters President Sam Klemet added, “The Michigan Association of Broadcasters wants to give as many young people as possible the opportunity to have their voices heard and radio is an incredibly powerful medium to make that happen. The High School Radio Project expands access to students interested in learning about the industry, encourages collaboration and creativity, and is a great first step for young people considering a career in broadcasting whether it’s on-air or behind the scenes. The MAB is proud to make this available to students in our state.”
Learn more about The High School Radio Project at highschoolradioproject.org.