The Early Years in Radio
The mid-1970's were a time for WAVM to learn and grow. The students of Maynard High School had just started a new venture, and it would take time for them to get used to these new trappings. They had to reach an understanding as to how much their world had suddenly expanded, and the impact they could have. For example, one student, Russ Arena, would drive around Maynard and the area towns to see how far the station's signal traveled. He remembers going as far as 9 Acre Corner in Sudbury before the signal faded.
1974 M.H.S. Yearbook
"New this year to Maynard is the educational radio station, started by Mr. Magno and a group of hard-working students. Money for this station was raised through raffling off a ski-mobile. WMHS is located at 91.7 on the FM dial. So when you turn on your radio, remember to turn on to us."
Laura Maria selects music for her radio show (circa 1987)
WAVM started the 1974 school year with a full broadcast schedule of weekday shows, beginning at 7 a.m. and concluding at 9 p.m., and these broadcasting hours, for the most part, have never changed. Students, usually working in pairs, hold weekly shows that last an hour. Each show has its own style and format depending completely on the student, and there have been many types of shows to grace the airwaves. Some programs have been very general playing all types of jazz while others are more specific by airing only Hollywood Soundtracks. To no surprise, the most common programming of all has been "Pop Music."
The radio shows have proven very popular with teenagers and been the primary recruitment tool for new station members necessary to maintain operations. Afterall, how many teenagers wouldn't jump at the chance to choose and play music for an hour; and perhaps imitate DJs on their favorite professional radio station? Over the past 25 years, there have been very few members that have never had a show.
Once word was out in 1974 that WAVM was up-and-running, the staff list steadily began to grow. Within a few years, the roster had climbed from twenty to over a hundred members where it has remained ever since. Upon these students rests the responsibility for operating the departments of the station, such as news, promotions, music and scheduling, which covers the broadcasting of radio shows.
As for conducting a radio show, a student's imagination of what to say or play next is primarily the toughest effort, and after some initial anxiety that anything you say will go out to the whole community, broadcasting becomes second nature. Over the summer or during the first couple weeks of school, students are trained. Novices are brought on air with experienced staff members, who teach the new students what or what not to say as well as how to operate the equipment.
WAVM's radio booth has always consisted of a mixing board, speakers, microphones, cart players, and turntables, which with technology improvements were augmented with cassette and CD players. The key piece of equipment to master is the mixing board, which controls the audio going into and out-of the other equipment as well as the final signal being sent out of the station.
Radio booth (circa 1977)
From 91.7 FM, what does "FM" stand for? The Answer can be found somewhere on this website.
For example, a broadcaster needs to bring up his own microphone when he or she speaks. Then the broadcaster needs to raise the levels of background music or sound effects, produced by, for example, the cart machine. After speaking for several moments, the broadcaster will then bring in the music from a CD player. All of this work takes some mental coordination and planning.
In addition to operating this equipment, the students maintain logs and playlists, some of which are required documentation for the Federal Communications Commission. The logs document such actions as signal strength and whether or not the station is fulfilling its public service role, which is a deciding factor whenever WAVM needs to have their license renewed.
To date, WAVM has never had a problem in this area, because the station has committed itself to community service through public service announcements, and special projects such as Church Services.
The Story of WAVM continues with Church Services