Territorial Elementary School Play
This is a story of glam and glitz and of community service. A cloudy day in June Andy and Dean head out into the country to a small school in between Franklin and Cheshire. It’s 7:45am and we check into the front desk of Territorial Elementary School. The ladies at the front desk point us to the multipurpose room which is set up for morning snack that happens at 8:15. We go back to the car and start to unload the equipment; laptop, mixer, microphones, table, mic stand, banner that identifies us as KOCF 92.7 FM, speaker stands, powered speaker that weighs 40-50 lbs., two boxes with interconnect cables, extension cords, various stands for mixer and computer, three cases of KOCF t-shirts, and a wagon to tote it in.
When we arrive in the room we are greeted by Linda Burden- Williams, who is a member of Lane Arts Council which is a co-sponsor of the event today. Linda is an acting coach assigned to help the 5th grade class prepare to do the “Live” radio play we are setting up for. Linda tells us that all twenty students would be participating in the play, not just a couple as we anticipated. The script is a dozen pages long with an introduction to the program, several commercials, interviews, a number of poems and a play. All written by the students, and we heard after the show was over one student who couldn’t be in front of the cameras and mics wrote most of the it. As planned we set up in the center of the room so we could be seen by the students and the parents and when almost finished we find out the parents aren’t attending but rather listening from home and the students are staying in a green room near the gym. We decide to move all the equipment to a better location in the room. Time’s now getting tight. We’re almost set up and checking our equipment, about 5 minutes to nine (show time), and discover the mixer isn’t working. I suggest switch out inputs and the wiggling causes the sound to come and go. A couple of taps and it’s working again. We need one more Mic, Andy runs to the car and discovers and huge truck is making access to his car interesting. 9:02am, the show is introduced by Andy to our listeners. About this time the first group of performers arrives. At the end of a song they begin their show. One student is very nervous and stands back from the mic and is almost too quiet to be heard. The others do fine. At the end of the first act Sherrene Kulm, the teacher of the 5th grade class, rushes into the room and tells us the kids weren’t being heard and only music was. I log into our stream and discover a buffer of music and a few seconds of the introduction is stuck in a loop on air. The schools firewall is blocking the outgoing stream! We have to switch to cell signal and create a hotspot from an iPhone. The signal in the metal building is too weak. I run the phone out the doors and get one more bar, just enough to stream the show. We’re back in business. This is “Live” radio and the show must go on. After the first few segments Josie Osborn, 5th grade student, interviews Mathew Thelander, an Iraq war veteran about his likes, dislikes and life experiences. It’s very well done. Stella Bounds stays in the room when her fellow students exit. She has several parts. She introduces both interviews and is one of the voices for a commercial. After the next segment the students get interested in the technology on the table and Andy explains to them how it all works. During one of the musical interludes two of the audience members that have filtered into the gym during the play introduce themselves; Liora Sponko, Executive Director of Lane Arts Council and Eric Branman, Lane Arts Council Arts Education Program Director. They are very excited and proud to see this event happening. They sponsored Linda throughout the project. I spoke the Sharrene about how Lane Arts Council got involved and she said she was close friends of Loria and talked to her about the idea. She said she in addition to her teaching degree she had a degree in Radio Communications and putting on a radio play was a dream of hers. Seeing the kids carry it out was just fantastic. Andy just checked our steaming service and discovers the stream has the largest audience the station has ever had. Sharrene requested we rerecord the opening that didn’t make it to air. We did and will edit it onto the recording.
It’s 10 am and tear down begins. The actors and sponsors go to the green room and celebrate the show and Andy and I load all the equipment back into the little wagon, several trips later we are headed back to Andy’s place. We celebrate on the way. Live radio, ain’t nothing like it.