'Pirate Radio'

By: Ryan Loyd Email
By: Ryan Loyd Email

COLLINSVILLE, Tex -- It's one of the first of its kind in the entire state of Texas, but it's not new technology. Collinsville ISD is available to the world via its Internet Radio class. The district broadcasts songs and student-produced segments, ranging from teacher interviews to weather forecasts.

Ken Kemp, the district's technology director and principal of the Intermediate school, says this is a great way for students to prepare for a possible career in broadcasting. "Parents enjoy it, students and teachers enjoy it, it's well received and widely applauded actually" he said.

This is the first year the district has made time through a class period for high school students to run the station, but it was formed last year. According to Kemp, broadcasting the station over the internet is actually quite cost effective. The district can post announcements and other events on the station, without having to print letters and mail them to students and parents quite as much.

"We've had a lot of donations and music, we use a retired server to run the program, it's a great way to reach parents, and it's a lot of fun," Kemp said.

Josh Smith is one of the students who helps run the station. "I'm surprised that a small town school would have something as sophisticated as this. I like the idea of being on the radio and having a lot of people hear me, especially if i have something important to say," he said.

Teachers peers have told Smith that he has a great voice for the radio. He says he doesn't know if that's true, but it has given him confidence to be on the radio. Now he's even thinking this could turn into a career later on.

Doug Spillers teaches the class. This is the first time he's taught something like this, although he has been teaching technology for many years and various small schools. "In fact I've had people say, 'Little Collinsville teaches courses like this? I came from a 5A school and they didn't teach courses like this,'" he said.

Probably the most important aspect of the station is that it's "grandma" and "school" appropriate. The station plays songs from the 50 to the 80's, and all of them are heavily screened for content. "So much of the lyrics today are vulgar and very suggestive. I'm not sure that's healthy for the young people," Spillers said. Only 50 listeners can hear the station at once because of copyright restrictions. But it's just the right number of people to hear Smith read his weather forecasts and conduct teacher interviews. And if you listen long enough, you'll catch his signature sign-off phrase that echoes throughout the small community of Collinsville, and even the world.

"Thank you for listening to Collinsville Pirate Radio. Tune in again soon."


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