For the first time in its 63-year history, WEPS 88.9 FM radio station will broadcast programming produced by students from Elgin Area School District U-46's five high schools and its alternative program.
WEPS is the oldest operating noncommercial, educational radio station in the state. The station received its FCC license in October 1949 and started airing one hour of programming daily on Jan. 13, 1950.
U-46 is hosting an open house to relaunch the radio station from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at its alternative Gifford Street High School, 46 S. Gifford St., Elgin.
U-46 high school students in years past have received credit for taking the radio broadcasting class and participating in the "WEPS Radio Club" until the late 1980s. In 2002, WEPS started broadcasting a daily, live show from 6 to 8 a.m. with school information, news, weather and school sports.
Since 2005, the station has been broadcasting Wisconsin Public Radio. With the relaunch, each of the district's high schools will produce one hour of content per week for the station.
"We're really excited," said Shannon Mortimer, U-46 spokeswoman. "This is the first time since early 2000 that the district is going to have student programming ... the first time that every high school will have an opportunity to be on the radio."
Each high school is forming its own radio club. Several high school teachers have been selected as "radio professionals" to oversee the clubs, Mortimer added.
A couple of the high school radio clubs already have begun working on and producing their own programs, Mortimer said.
"We're still evaluating what time slots we are going to do," she said. "It will definitely be in the evening. We are hoping to eventually expand. Each high school will have one day a week where they will air their content. We will be providing English and Spanish programming."
Officials also hope to expand the radio station's offerings online beyond live broadcasts by posting student-produced content there, Mortimer said.
U-46 Superintendent Josť Torres has prerecorded a radio interview in English and Spanish with the Beacon Academy at South Elgin High School, which will air during Tuesday's open house.