Earlier this week, East Valley Institute of Technology in Phoenix announced Michael Mallace as the new GM at High School radio station KVIT-FM. With fewer kids getting into radio than in the past, we reached out to Mike to pick his brain on what keeps the kids interested in joining our industry.
Radio Ink: Why do you think high school radio stations are a dying breed?
Mallace: The school radio stations that are not succeeding are not embracing change. Like commercial radio stations, High school radio stations today are not one dimensional and just the terrestrial signal. It is everything else as well, including music production, specialty programming, high school sports, the web, social media, content creation, events, podcasts, streaming YouTube, Tik Tok etc. It might be difficult to get students excited about a terrestrial FM station but it is not hard to get them excited about the complete package or specific elements of it under the radio station umbrella. The high school stations that embrace the entire array of assets the radio brand has to offer will continue to thrive and provide exceptional skills that are desired by future broadcast employers..
Radio Ink: Are the students that you teach excited about radio?
Mallace: Some more than others. Overall, everyone is excited about some aspect of our radio / audio production program.
Radio Ink: Do they even listen to the radio?
Mallace: Yes they do. It does not hurt that we play the station in front of our 65 acre campus as they enter/leave everyday and in the halls.
Radio Ink: What are they learning?
Mallace: The East Valley Institute of Technology and 88.7 FM The Pulse specifically take on a “teaching hospital approach” to educating our students. We treat the radio station as if it were a professional radio station. They learn everything from becoming certified radio operator through the Society of Broadcast Engineers certification program to production, programming music selection, sports play-by-play, traffic, promotion, new media, underwriting, podcasting, engineering, IT and more. Every skill that you need to excel in a commercial radio station, we touch upon in our program. Our students will be well equipped to succeed in the professional world.
Radio Ink: What keeps them excited so we can share that throughout the country and get more young people excited about radio?
Mallace: Our students have a voice! We listen to them. We find out what their passions are and help them realize their dreams and incorporate that into our program. If they are into music, with supervision, we give them the opportunity to be intimately involved in the music selection and scheduling process. If they are passionate about sports, they are involved in every aspect of our live play by play broadcasts. If they want to be the next great DJ, we work with them to develop those skills. The same goes for specialty programming, if they like gaming, sports, discovering new music on TikTok or YouTube then they can create a program or feature highlighting that. We are also very fortunate that we have state of the art facilities that are conducive to creativity and learning. At the end of the day our goal is student engagement and one of my colleagues says it best, “Have Fun But Get Stuff Done.”
Radio Ink: What keeps you motivated to teach kids about radio?
Mallace: My career started out at my high school radio station, WNTH FM at New Trier West High school in Northfield, Il. a northern suburb of Chicago. I have been very fortunate in my career and have always believed in paying it forward by educating the next generation of broadcasters. Now I can do it full time. I can’t express how motivating it is to work one-on-one with the students and see the smiles on their faces as they get as excited about broadcasting the same way I did when I was in their shoes. Finally, My passion is engaging students and teaching them the skills they need to become exceptional broadcasters. My dream for each one of them is to have fun and be happy with a career in broadcasting or related field while achieving great success. This is what drives me.
Reach out to Mike to congratulate him on keeping the kids excited about radio at [email protected]