Think Out Loud

Radio station at Coos Bay high school teaches broadcasting skills

By Sage Van Wing (OPB)
Sept. 13, 2022 3:43 p.m.

Broadcast: Tuesday, Sept. 13

Coos Bay's Marshfield High School is one of only 6 high schools in the state to own and operate their own commercial radio station.

Coos Bay's Marshfield High School is one of only 6 high schools in the state to own and operate their own commercial radio station.

Sage Van Wing / OPB


Marshfield High School in Coos Bay is one of just six schools across the state that has its own commercial radio station. Students learn how to speak on the air, record underwriting spots, cue up song lists and even announce live sports games. Eli Luckman, a sophomore at Marshfield, took the broadcasting class last year and was inspired to start his own sports podcast. We talk to Luckman and Drew Jones, the broadcast journalism instructor.

The following transcript was created by a computer and edited by a volunteer:

Dave Miller: We are broadcasting all this week from Marshfield High School in Coos Bay. It’s one of just six schools across the State of Oregon that has its own commercial radio station. Students here can learn how to talk on the air, how to record underwriting spots, queue up song lists and even announce live games. Eli Luckman is a sophomore here. He took the broadcasting class last year and was inspired to start his own sports podcast. Drew Jones is the broadcast journalism instructor and the manager of KMHS. They both join me now. Eli, why did you want to take this class last year?

Eli Luckman:  Mostly because my sister took it 10 years ago and then she told me all the things we got to do.

Miller:  What did she get to do 10 years ago that sounded good to you?

Luckman:  Like talk on the radio, make announcements and be able to choose songs and stuff like that. I don’t know. She used to explain it to me all the time after high school and I felt it sounded really cool.

Miller:  And you had to wait 10 years and finally last year you could do it?

Luckman:  Yeah.

Miller:  Was she right? Was it cool?

Luckman:  Yeah.

Miller:  What was your favorite part about it?

Luckman:  There’s three different parts. Radio was part of it and that was my favorite. I love radio because it’s just a lot easier. And then there were some video portions of it, which I wasn’t as good at. So I decided to take radio.

Miller:  It’s funny that you say that because I had been thinking, I mean, I love radio, which is good for me. But right now, in our culture, video seems like it is dominant and in social media, it’s especially dominant, like, especially super short videos on Tiktok or Instagram or wherever. But is it just because radio is easier that you like it or are there other things you like about it as well?

Luckman:  Mostly because it’s easier, but

Miller: It’s easier than editing video, you mean by “easier”?

Luckman:  Yeah, but I think it’s more fun to be able to get a script from Drew and then be able to just go record it, edit it and then him trusting me to be able to put something good out.

Miller:  And that trust is a cool thing because as a freshman before and now a sophomore, you still get its responsibility. It’s like you’re doing this thing. It’s going to end up on the radio.

Luckman:  Yeah.

Miller: Drew, can you give us a sense for the set up? I mean it’s relatively unusual for a high school to have access to a commercial radio station.

Drew Jones:  So it all started for us in 1996, give or take a year where a local station donated a license to the school district. A gentleman named Steve Walker got us off the ground and so we built over time. Now, where we currently are, we have two stations and a translator running a modern country station we call it, and a pop top 40 station, figuring those are the two, given our area and the student population, that they can get into. So that’s the main structure. Then we take that and how do we put that into a classroom structure and give it some typical school stuff. That’s where, when Eli was talking about the intro to broadcast class, starts with some radio. We do a little bit of video coverage and some tv news. My program is also responsible for the school’s daily announcements that go out.

Miller:  And I heard earlier that the Key club, only the officers of the Key club were supposed to go to Key club meeting today which will be in about two weeks?

Jones:  We take the first couple weeks of the school year to train new broadcasting students and to kind of figure out how we want this year’s product to look.

Miller:  So this was just like somebody in the school office. It was not a professional kid.

Jones:  No, no, no. Yeah. We do a little short video thing we put up on Youtube and then during this student’s homeroom class, they’ll view it. Right now our principal’s handling it while we get things under it. But after they go through the intro class they can choose a pathway. Do they want to do video and television production or they want to go radio? We do kind of push the radio a little more heavily because we are a self- funded program. We don’t take any money out of the school’s budget other than what I’m paid to teach  and through sponsorships and underwritings and all that stuff, they keep it going. We try and put as much responsibility on the students as we can and still have a functioning station.

Miller:  Can you describe what the morning Kazam was? I got a little bit of a description of it yesterday before the show from the principal who was very excited about it. My understanding is that it’s not happening right now but something that used to happen?

Jones:  Pre the school shutdown from COVID, we had a morning show that ran from about 7 to 8 a.m. Tuesday through Friday and we called it the morning Kazam. I think in the late nineties, early two thousands it first became a thing as a student run morning show - kind of what’s happening with the school community and reminders for parents and students.

Miller:  But all students, playing music and doing announcements? Is that something that could come back now as we enter our forever COVID-slash-post COVID phase?

Jones:  Yeah, it’s a real push this year to try and get more student voices on the air. With our automation software, we do have the ability to voice track. So we’re feeling pretty comfortable. So even if we can’t get students in at 7a.m., which is somewhat of a struggle to get a student and get to school that early, we’re hoping to at least get, through voice tracking, some sort of a morning show and then also use, you know, students who are in class can do a show for 30 minutes during class. So trying to get things going that way. But things like the morning Kazam and we want to see a lot more than that.

Miller:  Eli would you get here at seven in the morning if it meant you could be the host of a morning Kazam show?

Luckman:  Yeah. I already wake up pretty early.


Miller:  So you can do that? You could be the early morning shock jock?

Luckman:  I wake up at like 5:30.

Miller:  Sign him up. I noted at the beginning that you also, after this freshman year broadcast journalism class, you started a podcast with a friend of yours, Elliot Ailey. What has that been like?

Luckman:  Like it’s been pretty fun. I think just mostly it was just started with us arguing about sports and stuff. Then we had an assignment to record like a five minute podcast thing and then I really enjoyed the assignment. And then Elliott took the class second semester and he really enjoyed it. And so we’re like, ‘hey, we should start a podcast’ as a joke. And then it kind of turned into us actually making a podcast with us being able to do our sports opinions and like actually have it networked through. Let’s have a listen to the beginning of a recent episode:

Luckman:  I’m Eli Luckman

Elliot Ailey:  And I’m Elliott Ailey.

Luckman:  And you’re listening to the “Cold Sports” podcast. In today’s episode, we’ve decided to skip the AFC South and we’re just gonna’ do week one of football. Season opener. This probably is the matchup of the year.

Ailey:  The year?  I don’t know about the year but from being on the

Luckman:  Bills at Rams? This is a potential super bowl matchup.

Ailey:  Yeah, I think this game will be amazing but…

Luckman:  Then why do ya…

Ailey:  I don’t know.  Game of the year? There’s a bunch of games, you know, I don’t think there’ll be…

Luckman:  I’m just saying on paper, this is like…

Ailey:  On paper? Yes

Luckman:  Like just the best scheduled game, like the best two teams that could go against the other.

Ailey:  Yeah.

Miller:  Were you right? Was it the game of the year?

Luckman:  No, it was horrible. He was right.

Miller:  I’m sorry. Do you get your friends to listen to the podcast?

Luckman:  I don’t really push them to listen to it, but I just make jokes about it.  Like, hey, you should come listen to our podcast.

Miller:  Just to goose the numbers a little bit?

Luckman:  Just to joke around, but people have just been listening to it.

Miller:  Has it felt different to you? I mean it seems like you said that you and your friend were arguing about sports anyway. Now you’re arguing in front of microphones, recording it and putting it out there into the world. Does it feel different?

Luckman:  Uh kind of, just the environment? But I mean, I kind of just still feels like me and Elliot just arguing about sports and who’s better and who’s not.

Miller:  Including who’s better at actually predicting who’s gonna win?

Luckman:  Yeah.

Miller:  Are you interested in a career in media and journalism and radio?

Luckman:  Yeah, my dream is to be a sports commentator.

Miller:  Drew, how much of a partnership is there between what’s going on here and what happens at Southwestern Oregon Community College?

Jones:  As far as with the broadcasting program, there’s not a lot currently. There’s some stuff in the works and it sounds like they want to get into broadcasting. I don’t know if they’re going to go with a degree for it, but at least a handful of classes. And so we started the talks of how we can work together and combine resources and help. So, I hope in the near future we’re able to get some stronger ties.

Miller:  What else are you hoping for KMHS’s pirate radio in the coming years?

Jones:  Well, hopefully we can just stay on the air. That’s always a plus. You never know, the transmitter goes down. But now we’ve been very fortunate to have a strong group of, especially, older radio people that have guided this up to this point. When I took over six years ago. Kind of the start of, we’ve got to keep it going. So we’re losing our great sports announcer, Matt Jarvis at the end of this year and some of the other guys are kind of fading out. So trying to keep that going and find ways to bring more student voices in like Eli, mentioning wanting to do sports broadcasting. [It] isn’t something we’ve been able to do with students often. So that’s a big push. How can we get them more involved and make it more of a student run station?

Miller: I should note that we are actually gonna talk to Matt Jarvis on Friday. We have been told that not only is he an expert on local rivalries and local sports, but statewide, maybe knows more about high school Oregon sports than anyone you’re gonna meet. Drew Jones and Eli Luckman, thanks very much.

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