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Anna Gibson and Steadman Livingston of Bulldog Broadcasting radio and television.
Daily photo by Gary Lloyd
Anna Gibson and Steadman Livingston of Bulldog Broadcasting radio and television.

Priceville High's student-run radio station hits airwaves

By Bayne Hughes
hughes@decaturdaily.com 340-2432

PRICEVILLE — Is a future network news or sports anchor attending Priceville High School?

Principal Guy Bowling said his school's new student-run radio station, WPHS 103.9 FM, has him considering that possibility.

"You never know when a little thing like a high school radio show leads to something big down the road," he said.

While not a new idea, WPHS is thought to be the only student-run high school radio station in the area. The students are learning that running a station is more than walking up to a microphone and flipping a switch.

The Priceville Town Council bought radio equipment for Priceville Elementary when the school first opened, but it is only now seeing use.

Teacher-sponsor Kim Morris said the station's signal reaches only as far the gas station to the west and the traffic light to the east on Alabama 67, less than a mile radius.

Steadman Livingston, a freshman with broadcasting aspirations, has been the leading force behind the station. The goal is to have a signal that covers 5 miles, which he said would cover Priceville. Steadman estimated this would cost about $1,000.

He researched issues related to boosting the signal and dealing with the Federal Communications Commission. He said the station doesn't need an FCC license now, but it would if it boosts its signal. He said he doesn't know how much a license would cost or whether the station might need legal help in dealing with the FCC, another possible expense.

Meanwhile, the students are trying to boost their listenership in other ways. They've placed radios around the school, and Bowling said he plans to put up speakers in the main lobby and courtyard, two areas where students congregate.

"The students are bunching around the radios and listening to our show," Steadman said. "They were laughing and smiling, so they seemed to like it."

Morning fun

Steadman is the steady, experienced host, Anna Halbrooks inserts the humor and perkiness into the show, and Dalton Lorance provides sports and everyone's favorite, the "Dumb Crooks" segment.

On a Wednesday morning, Anna reminds the audience "that church is tonight," gives the long list of baseball and softball games scheduled for coming days and invites students to try out for the golf team.

In his "Dumb Crooks" segment, Dalton tells a story about two men who stole a refrigerator from a home under construction, got stuck in the mud, decided to remove the refrigerator to decrease the truck's weight, but locked their key inside the truck and then abandoned it.

As Steadman talks about the weather and gives school announcements, Anna remembers with a giggle, "We've got to talk about Britney Spears."

Steadman says the pop star who shaved her head got a tattoo on her neck.

"People, that's another reason not to do drugs," Anna says.

Anna said the short show is just "about having fun because we're hanging out with our best friends." They avoid the negative news, focusing mainly on Priceville High current events.

The show isn't perfect. Producer Brandon Gibson often must remind his classmates that they're still on the air.

The students credit Brandon as the hard worker behind the show, doing the nightly research, selecting music and writing the each show's script. He also runs the station's computer and other equipment during the show.

"We wouldn't have a show if it wasn't for him," Anna said.

The students also have a lot of ideas. They want to bring in special guests, and they'd like to broadcast the school's athletic events, something that motivates Dalton, who plays baseball and is a sport fanatic.

They're currently playing oldies. They said they're trying not to offer the same music formats as other local stations.

The school has several students with bands, and the radio crew would like to feature the local bands' original music.

Morris said she's lucky she found four dependable students she can trust, so she doesn't have monitor every show. She mainly emphasized dependability and being on time to students.

"It's scary when you give a 16-year-old a microphone," Morris said. "But I'm very proud of them because I've never had to saying anything like 'watch your language' or tell them not to talk about a certain subject."

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