Monday, August 3, 2009

The Soundtrack to Your Liberation! (a history of WALZ 1670 AM "The Cage")

WALZ 1670 AM/90.9 FM (The Cage) started off as something of a joke. One day Lucas Huttenga and some friends were discussing the idea of starting a radio station at DeWitt High School with a teacher, Jason LaFay. The station was going to be underground (pirate) until Lucas made the better decision to doggedly pursue a legal one with the help of local radio stations and broadcasting professionals.

After receiving some donated equipment Lucas contacted and enlisted the invaluable help of Larry Estlack, a veteran broadcaster and Director of Technology of the MAB (Michigan Association of Broadcasters). Lucas - with some assistance from Mr. LaFay - wrote a grant proposal to the DeWitt Boosters for an antenna and transmitter. The boosters in their infinite wisdom and understanding approved the grant; WALZ 1670 AM "The Cage" was born. The antenna was installed with the help of Dirk Huttenga, a local business (they provided the lift), and personnel from the DeWitt Public School District Maintenance and Technology departments. Once the antenna and transmitter became operational Larry, Lucas, and his assistant Ralph Haines prepared a soundboard, microphones, and other vital equipment to make the station ready for its initial broadcast.

Soon various students required training to create competent radio programs. Bill Brown, a community member and parent with an extensive background in audio engineering, became an indispensable source of training and inspiration for the novice broadcasters. Sessions were held to help students design coherent, quality programming. Behavior contracts were also signed in order to ensure appropriate behavior and that programs stayed true to the founding principles of WALZ 1670 AM (The Cage):

  • Radio Broadcasting must reflect professional conduct and standards
  • WALZ is for and by the people of the DeWitt area
  • WALZ will not willingly violate FCC standards
  • WALZ will provide training for students on how to develop quality radio broadcasting skills
  • WALZ will expose people in the DeWitt area to varied and unique music: grindcore through Ethiopian jazz
  • WALZ will be run on a non-profit basis
  • WALZ will cover topics of interest such as live sports broadcasts
  • WALZ will continue to explore appropriate outlets such as local cable television outlets, an extended FM license, online audio streaming, podcasting, etc. to increase its broadcasting radius/reach

Past and Present Significant Contributors to WALZ:

Lucas Huttenga

Jake Quimby

Larry Estlack

Jeff Spicer

Tim Sullivan

Bill Brown

Dan Brown

Ralph Haines

Joe Smith

Sean Wade

DeWitt Boosters

Melanie Huttenga

Jesse Fisher

Dirk Huttenga

Anna Walz

1 comment:

  1. Sounds great! How often do you broadcast and when? I'm curious to listen.