Special thanks to adviser Bob Long and student operations manager Quintin O’Boyle for answering the questions!
Tell me a little history about your station and where your station is now?
Bob: WSTB was licensed on March 23, 1972 to Streetsboro City Schools. For the first 4 years the station played a variety of different programming. In 1976 the station changed to a rock oldies format known at “Golden 91”. (At that time our frequency was 91.5MHz.) In 1982 we switched to contemporary hits. Then, in 1991things began to take off. We adopted a heavy metal format known at “V-ROCK … All Metal, All Day”. The metal format hung around for 8 years until 1999. In August 1999 we became the “Alternation” playing modern rock. We have continued that format for over 15 years with our weekly audience growing to over 25,000 listeners in the Akron/Cleveland market. This year we began “Rocket Radio Cybercasts” which provides Internet streaming of school events such as basketball and baseball games, band concerts, graduation, and Board of Education meetings. We are also in the process of designing a new radio station facility for our new high school which will open in 1-1/2 years.
What sets your station apart from other college radio and TV stations?
Bob: WSTB is a broadcast FM at 88.9 MHz on the air 24x7x365 and is operated Monday through Saturday solely by Streetsboro High School juniors and seniors who are enrolled in the broadcasting program. (On Sunday, community adults come in and play oldies rock ‘n’ roll from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.) The students not only learn how to broadcast, but they also learn business management skills, promotional techniques by working with community groups on events, and technology by helping to maintain our local network.
Quintin: I think what separates our radio from others is the quality of the sound. Our station is run by high school students and our listeners, unless told otherwise, are unaware of that fact. This shows the quality of our on-air sound.
Why did you choose to work at the radio/TV station?
Bob: My radio career began in 1968 when I was a student at the University of Akron (WAUP, now WZIP). I continued after college in commercial radio news with three years as a news editor at WHLO, Akron followed by eight years as News Director at WKNT (now WNIR) Kent/Akron. While there the opportunity to teach high school and run our local school radio station intrigued me so I moved up the road 5 miles to Streetsboro. I’ve been here ever since. (This is my 34th year of teaching classes and being General Manager of WSTB.)
Qunitin: There are approximately 100 high school ran radio stations in the U.S. and my high school is one of them. This is a coveted program to get into, having an opportunity of this magnitude was not something I planned on passing up.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done for your station?
Bob: In 1999, prior to our conducting our annual membership drive, we were going to have a Saturday night concert in the school gym featuring the local heavy metal band Mushroomhead. This was before they signed national and used to stop by the station from time to time just to hang out and chat on air with the DJs. The prospect of a heavy metal concert in the gym raised the ire of some people in the community. The result was a protest and threatened boycott of local businesses by local churches, a huge debate at City Hall with the Mayor canceling the show, followed by City Council changing the city law usurping a portion of the mayor’s power allowing the concert to go on. Then came the Columbine High School shooting 4 days before the concert. Everybody was so frightened and concerned that the concert was canceled and never rescheduled. Along the way we received more newspaper and TV news coverage than we ever imagined. We would walk into the station and randomly there would be a Cleveland TV news crew there looking for an update on the concert. It was a crazy three months.
What’s the best part of college radio/TV? And the hardest part?
Bob: I like the atmosphere of high school radio. It’s much less intense than being in commercial radio these days, plus it’s lots of fun working with the student staff. We enjoy doing new things together as well as traveling and schmoozing at the CBI conventions.
Quintin: The best part of this radio station is being able to learn how to work within and with a management staff, learning to work in a true business atmosphere and the being able to broadcast live on radio.