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article imageKids in Florida create own radio: weather-reporter at age six

By dpa news     Aug 23, 2007 in Lifestyle
Kids in a small town in Florida intend to write media history with what they claim to be the first radio station run only by children. "The only radio station in the world that is owned, operated and managed by children," the website for WKID 96.7 FM confidently proclaims.
By Thanh-Martin Nguyen
Adam Baker, age 12, and 24 cohorts ranging in age from six to 12 - plus the mascot, American dingo - have been running the station in Clearwater, Florida, for 20 months.
The project is the brainchild of Adam's 40-year-old dad Rodger, who always wanted to run his own radio station but never worked it into his busy life as a communications maintenance technician for the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
The young journalists are well versed in handling microphones, amps and mixers and insist that adults stay outside.
Only Adam's father who donated the 2,500-dollar equipment - and continues to fund the operation to the tune of about 1,400 dollars a month - is allowed into the inner sanctum.
"My dad won't let me put up the antenna if it's storming because of lighting," Adam said in a telephone interview.
WKID transmits mainly at the weekends, evenings and the holidays, and the kids are proud that they produce the programmes all on their own.
"My dad is always listening us to make sure we have fun but yet keep it professional," Adam said.
The editorial meetings take place at the headquarters of the young radio station - Adam's bedroom.
The team is determined to produce a complete radio station. The music they choose has amazing diversity: Not only Pop and Hip Hop but also classical and country music are played. The kids don't sweat the music copyrights, since they are not commercial - and furthermore, are very smallish.
Their driving principle when it comes to news is this: "Only Clean News."
This means no dispatches about crime rates, war or politics. The main news session is transmitted every evening at 8 pm. The weather forecast is presented by the youngest member, Eric Baker, age six, and the younger brother of Adam.
Frequently the young journalists make reportage-trips in the neighbourhood. They recently interviewed Pinellas County Sheriff Jim Coats, for example.
Apart from music and news, it is important for the team to have contact with their listeners. At the weekends they have a flea market on the programme, where listeners offer all kinds of furniture and other small items.
Having fun ON AIR: 96.7 FM located in Clearwater Florida is a low power FM stereo neighborhood radio station transmitting about a 1/2 mile. – Photo courtesy of WKID967
The young broadcasters used to allow listeners to call directly into the studio, but they've stopped that because of the interruptions to their programmes. One time, the studio telephone rang while they were on air, and another two cell phones also started to sound.
"One of the funniest times while we were live on the air is when our cordless home phone started ringing and we couldn't find it," Adam recalled. "During our search for that phone while one of the kids were trying to read the news, another one of the kids' cell phone started ringing, and then another. So we had three phones ringing and everyone racing to find them and answer them."
"We learned from that day. No phones in the room! We finally found the other phone under the bed, how it got there no one knows."
Rodger Baker's monthly 1,400-dollar outlay covers the costs of music, internet cable, printer ink and paper, equipment breakage, and trips to the zoo, museums, baseball and football games and other outings for reporting - a considerable cost for one individual, but a real bargain when measured by the costs of professional radio.
In addition, it pays for the cases of water, gallons of juice and 20 pizzas or so every weekend.
"They can eat and drink a lot," Baker said in an e-mailed response.
In future, the fledgling radio journalists hope for new sponsors: With a cooperation of a local company, the kids plan to post their programme on the internet.
Then they hope for young listeners from all over the United States - and perhaps even advertising revenue.
Meanwhile, 96.7 FM continues to transmit in the 0.8 kilometre radius around the Baker's neighbourhood.
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