PENDLETON — As the program director for the Pendleton Heights High School radio station, WEEM 91.7 FM, senior Zoe Dwiggins must make sure things run smoothly, including her pre-recorded morning radio show from 5 to 7:30 a.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Dwiggins is one of 31 advanced senior and junior students who work at the school’s radio station learning broadcasting skills and the ins and outs of the business.
“I’ve definitely grown an awful lot as a broadcaster since I first started as a freshman,” Dwiggins said.
The radio station, which plays top 40 music, has been in operation since 1972 with live student DJ’s throughout the school day from 7:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It is student-run to give students interested in broadcasting practical hands-on experiences.
This year the students and staff have been recognized by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System for their work and are up for 18 national awards, including a nomination for Best High School Radio Station of the year.
It’s the second year the station has competed in the national competition, where it won eight awards last year, including Best High School Radio Station the first time out.
According to college broadcasting group’s website, it has provided informative services for college and high school radio, TV, webcasting, podcasting and streaming for more than 75 years.
Brian Merrill, WEEM assistant station manager, has been the acting station manager for most of the year and has been working with the station’s student executive staff of juniors and seniors since they entered the program as freshman.
He has also been nominated as Best Station Manager of the Year and will travel to New York City with a group of students Thursday, March 2, through Sunday, March 5, for the award ceremony Saturday, March 4.
“I’m very humbled to be nominated with this group,” Merrill said. “I couldn’t ask for a better group of executive staff kids.”
Dwiggins, who originally took a broadcasting class as a freshman at her mom’s suggestion, is now planning to study telecommunications at Ball State University next year.
She is up for several national awards including Best Newscast.
“I’m really proud of myself as well as everyone I work with,” she said.
Students are not paid for their work at WEEM, but they are graded for their efforts through the classes they take.
Senior Ben Kane is the sports director at WEEM. He gets all the sports interviews with Arabian coaches and players, plus does play-by-play work for the different sports seasons. He has a dream of someday becoming a professional sports announcer.
By the end of the high school basketball season, he will have announced more than 100 live events for the radio station.
Like all students in the program, he spent his freshman and sophomore years learning about the radio business and its history and then got the chance to be on air his junior year.
“That’s when I fell in love with it,” Kane said. “I’m hoping to make broadcasting my career.”
He plans to be a part of the Ball State University Sports Link Program.
Merrill, who has years of professional radio experience, said educators try to teach the students to run the radio station as closely to the professional level as possible and give the students unique opportunities.
Kane can attest to that. He was thrilled to broadcast a recent Pendleton Heights basketball game from downtown Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, home of the Indiana Pacers.
“Not many high schoolers can say they did that has a high schooler,” Kane said.
Intercollegiate Broadcasting System Award Nominations for WEEM-FM 91.7.
Best High School Radio Station – WEEM
Best Use of Social Media – WEEM
Best Use of Instagram – WEEM
Best Use of Twitter – WEEM
Best Use of Facebook -WEEM
Best Logo -WEEM
Best Event Promo – WEEM
Best Station Contest/Promotional Event – Zoe Dwiggins, Jackson Keesling and Audrey Hosier
Best Radio Drama – Zoe Dwiggins and Audrey Hosier
Best Newscast – Zoe Dwiggins
Best News Interview – Zoe Dwiggins
Best News Feature Story – Zoe Dwiggins
Best Artist/Band Interview – Zoe Dwiggins
Best Football Play-By-Play – Ben Kane
Best Press Release – Jason Keesling
Best Liner/Sweeper – Austen Michael
Best Use of Sound Effects – Austen Michael
Best Station Manager – Brian Merrill