Live From Alameda
An impassioned teacher, Kevin Gorham, brings new airwaves to the Island.
Kevin Gorham says working with students at the radio has been "an incredible journey."
Photo by Stephen Texeira
Besides teaching AP government and honors economics classes and being athletic director at Encinal Junior & Senior High School, Kevin Gorham (and, oh, by the way, also Teacher of the Year) recently added a big responsibility to his personal syllabus: teaching a radio broadcast journalism course. Students in Gorham’s class operate Alameda’s recently launched radio station, KJTZ 96.1 FMLP, giving them a new voice and a host of lifetime skills. The young broadcasters, with Gorham’s guidance, specialize in bringing Alamedans news, weather, sports, journalism, talk shows, and a range of original features on Jet Radio. Both teacher and radio personalities are deeply committed to giving the community a top-notch program.
How did the idea of starting a radio station come about?
Prior to becoming a teacher, I spent 20-plus years doing morning radio in San Francisco working for Bay Area legends Dr. Don Rose at KFRC and Don Bleu at K-101, both radio personalities whom I idolized.
When I became an educator, I always had the dream to start an on-campus radio station operated by students. Five years ago, that dream started to come to fruition when I started the application process through the FCC when the 96.1 FMLP frequency became available. After a lengthy two-year competitive process, we were awarded the frequency and the call letters, KJTZ, and then the work of developing a radio class, building the studios, and erecting the transmitter began.
Tell me more about how you made this happen.
Blood, sweat, tears, patience, and a tremendous amount of collaboration are what made this radio station a reality. There were many obstacles and challenges during the process, including adequate funding. The support of the school district and colleagues at Encinal High collectively made this dream come true, as they understood the value that this radio station would have for the district, city, campus, and, most importantly, the students who would be enrolled in this unique class that guides and supports the station.
Once awarded the frequency from the Federal Communications Commission, we had 18 months to build the studios, erect the transmitter, build the curriculum, and get it UC-approved, get an additional teaching credential in Career Technical Education, recruit students, and then get students prepared to deliver live and entertaining programming for the island of Alameda.
What’s the broadcasting class like?
It is a broadcast journalism course, a Career Technical Education—CTE, Arts, Media, and Entertainment—course focused on the analysis and practice of electronic news gathering, media production, and presentation from a variety of theoretical, philosophical, artistic, and historical perspectives. Through what they learn, students produce, market, and broadcast live on our new student-operated radio station 96.1 KJTZ/FMLP.
Students develop on-air content and understand the complexities and nuances of broadcast radio journalism. They gain a richer understanding of the ideals, constraints, rituals, and routines of the global news media, all while gaining practical experience as broadcasters and emerging-media journalists.
The media curriculum in this class gives students the opportunity to develop topical compelling and entertaining shows for the Alameda audience. I strongly believe that what students learn here will translate into multiple careers other than broadcasting. The rewards are endless.
What types of programs does the station feature?
Students develop their own shows and show content that must be approved by me two days prior to going live. Some of the shows they produce are The KSG Show, a topical theme-oriented morning show; The Hard Hitters, where hard hitting questions are asked; The Turbulent Hour, the uncovering of garage bands; Throw Back Thursdays, going back in time featuring songs and events from a specific year; Cultural Corner, spanning the globe for music and culture; and The Come Up, featuring local music artists trying to make it. The kids take these shows very seriously and put a lot of time, effort, and research into them.
A few of my favorites of the featured segments include Around Alameda, an update on local happenings, and Tweets of the Week, a recapturing of infamous tweets with reactions from the public. There are so many more segments that are also quite original and entertaining.
How would you say the first few months have gone?
We could not have asked for a better start. Since airing for the first time on March 6, it has been an amazing experience after an incredible journey. To hear these young broadcasters on the air really is a dream come true. I couldn’t be prouder of them. They air Monday through Friday from 7 to 11 a.m. during the school year. We share frequency with three other stations giving us each our own time slots.
One of the great things about the station is that it is targeted to all ages. We studied the demographics, and Alamedans are definitely are our main audience. The news comes from reliable resources. It is both informational and entertaining and it meets industry standards.
But what pleases me the most is seeing kids of all types come together for the same goal: producing a great, quality show. I’ve seen so many students break out of their shells and lose their shyness in this arena. Their enthusiasm is overwhelming. The normally quiet, unconfident kids who don’t like going to school are showing up and contributing wonderfully to the program. Working at the radio station is a terrific platform for any field that students may chose to enter in the future. They’re learning valuable tools and most importantly that to be good at anything you have to be prepared. Through trial and error they’ve learned that there’s no substitute for that. Check out KJTZ 96.1 FMLP; you won’t be disappointed.
Published online on May 17, 2017 at 8:00 a.m.