It’s 10 a.m. on Tuesday, and four current and former Elmore Stoutt High School students are gathered around a collection of laptops and microphones, ready for a regular morning broadcast.
As soon as the mics go on, so does the charm.
“Good morning to each and everyone! It’s your boy K.B. on ESHS Rams Radio,” announced college student Kalyan Brumant, who manages broadcasts and coordinates programming.
Twelfth grader Ilysha Richards, who runs two talk shows, chimed in, “And it’s your girl ‘Lysh Dinero!’ Tell a friend to tell a friend to tune in.”
The station’s content may seem relatively unchanged post-Irma — ever since mid-October, there’s been a mix of music, local and international news, and entertainment shows — but behind the scenes much is different for the student-run internet radio station.
For one, the student announcers and producers all sit at one big conference table in a room of their new school at what used to be the Clarence Thomas Limited building in Pasea.
“It’s different, but I can’t complain too much. I’m pretty much fine with everything — the environment,” Ms. Richards said. “I feel it’s better like this, to be honest. We’re doing more work together and we are communicating much more.”
Luckily, their old studio was housed in one of the few buildings on campus not badly damaged by the hurricane, and all equipment was salvageable. Rams Radio is now the only extracurricular activity available at the school’s new location.
“We have this amazing principal: Ms. Sandy Underhill has been just — I think I need to find a better word than ‘amazing,’” said teacher Renee Weston-Joseph, sponsor and supervisor for Rams Radio. “When it came to relocating to this building, she made sure we had this room. She made sure that the voice of ESHS could be heard, which I think is really cool.”
Number one supporter
But the biggest setback for Rams Radio has been the loss of Merretts Herbert, the longtime ZBVI radio personality, who died in late September.
On a sheet of paper hanging in the club’s new location, there’s a photo of Mr. Herbert, labelled, “Our #1 supporter.”
“He was like our guardian angel for this whole thing,” Ms. Weston-Joseph said.
When the station officially launched last January, Mr. Herbert was committed to getting it on an actual FM frequency. He filled out the necessary paperwork and brought in engineers, but purchasing a transmitter and antennas can cost thousands of dollars, Ms. Weston-Joseph explained.
“We told Mr. Herbert, even though he was in the process of raising the funds, that we wanted to go ahead with the internet radio,” she said. “For online streaming there are little overheads we have on a monthly basis, but our intent was always to be on that FM frequency.”
After Mr. Herbert’s death, the station is calling on members of the community to help them finally get on the FM dial and help reach the mentor’s goal. Ms. Weston-Joseph said anyone interested in donating to the club can speak with Donna Clyne, the school’s pastoral principal.
“We’re planning to do it as soon as we get the finances sorted out,” she added. “There is a chance people just aren’t aware of what we’re trying to do or that we have this need.”
Even without a frequency to call their own, the students who make up Rams Radio say the extracurricular activity has given them a renewed sense of direction.
In the coming year, the students hope the online station will have more of its original shows back on the air. A new programme called Rams Activated, led by 12th grader Christen Glasgow, will also feature students’ thoughts about the school’s move, as well as individuals in the wider community.
Many of the student radio hosts are happy merely to be broadcasting at all, no matter the medium or format.
“I honestly didn’t know my career goals until I started to get into Rams. It actually helped me figure out what I wanted to be in life,” Ms. Richards said. “I realise that this is pretty much my calling.”