Community Opinion

Upside Down Under

Congratulations to the best….. Think back to your high school days and what it would have been like to be part of a bona fide radio station.

By Marvin Baker

It was out of our league, but the students at Linton High School have crossed that hurdle and are operating the only high school run radio station in the state of North Dakota. Not only that, but after nearly two years of broadcasting, KLHS 1620- AM has b een nominated f or five Golden Microphone awards.

The nominations include Best Use of Facebook, Best Use of Instagram, Best Celebrity Interview, Best High School Radio Adviser in the Nation and Best High School Radio Station in the Nation.

Three on-air personalities, Madi Ptacek, Emily Kelsch and Erica Umber, were nominated for a celebrity interview they did with Miss North Dakota, Katie Olson.

The Intercollegiate Broadcasting System made the announcement on Dec. 20. The IBS monitors and assists high school and college radio stations in the United States.

It’s hard to believe that this radio station started in the spring of 2017 with four broadcast students and a skeptical school board. Those four, which adviser Jay Schmaltz called the “Fab Four,” must have told their friends because the program has grown to 15 students and has been broken into broadcasting 1 and Broadcasting 2 classes.

When Schmaltz pitched his idea to the school board, they weren’t sure what to think. But, he had a core group of students who were interested, and the board OK’d the station on a limited budget and in a little corner of a classroom at Linton High School.

It doesn’t stop there. For the 2019- 20 school year, Radio 3 and Radio 4 will be added to the curriculum thus making radio broadcasting a four-year program at Linton High School. In addition, Schmaltz, who has a strong background in radio, is teaching radio broadcasting to four other North Dakota schools via ITV. Beginning this month, the other schools began their own online radio stations. KLHS is streamed online but is also on the air in Linton on 1620 AM.

Because KLHS is limited in its power on 1620, thanks to Internet, the station may be heard anywhere in the world. Just log on to (www. klhslintonhigh.com) and click the “listen live” button.

The station is heavy on local sports and weather. Schmaltz has his own morning show, and the students take turns working in the studio. As Schmaltz puts it, they do everything. He just advises them. They arrange the music, set the schedule, go on air, conduct interviews, provide live weather for the community of Linton and produce advertising. The station plays a mixture of ‘60s-’70s and ‘80s music.

KLHS is also unique because the next nearest radio stations are in Bismarck- 75 miles northwest, Mobridge, S.D.- 60 miles southwest, Jamestown- 120 miles northeast and Aberdeen, S.D.- 132 miles southeast. As far as other high school stations- none in South Dakota, none in Montana, none in Minnesota and none in Nebraska. The next nearest high school station west of Linton is in Salt Lake City, and the nearest one to the east is in Sheboygan, Wisconsin.

Most of the high school stations are located in Alaska, Washington, Massachusetts, Indiana, California and Illinois.

Another unique item about KLHS is the on-air personalities are local kids who are growing up in Linton. So there is a personal stake for parents, friends and neighbors to become involved.

As a result, the station has picked up a decent amount of sponsors in Linton, and Schmaltz would like to see more sponsors since the station can be heard outside of Linton on the Internet.

IBS President Chris Thomas announced there were more than 2,700 entries nationwide that were sent in for consideration of the Golden Microphone awards. He said with that many entries, it’s a huge accomplishment to just be nominated.

The Golden Microphone winners will be announced March 1 during the 80th annual IBS broadcasting conference in New York.

KLHS is sending eight members of its radio broadcasting 2 class, along with Schmaltz, to the threeday conference to attend and accept their awards.

One would suspect that regardless of how KLHS does in New York, the popularity of this small-town radio station is going to explode because everyone will know this is no fad like swallowing goldfish or sitting on flag poles.