WKHS holds open house for new stu­dio

Kent County News - - NEWS - By TR­ISH MCGEE pm­cgee@thekent­coun­tynews.com

WOR­TON — Flanked by cur­rent and for­mer stu­dents, state and lo­cal ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials and friends of com­mer­cial-free ra­dio, Chris Sin­gle­ton ush­ered in a new era for the last re­main­ing high school ra­dio sta­tion in Mary­land when he cer­e­mo­ni­ously cut the rib­bon at a thor­oughly mod­ern­ized WKHS.

The Nov. 1 open house was an op­por­tu­nity to show off Kent County High School’s sta­tion, which has been serv­ing the Shore since 1974 — a catchy phrase that makes it easy to re­mem­ber when 90.5 FM went on the air.

“I’m not as much en­vi­ous as I am happy,” said Con­ner Flee­gle, Class of 2009, who was a se­nior when Sin­gle­ton suc­ceeded Steve Kra­marck as the sta­tion man­ager.

“For a long time, the thought of mod­ern­iz­ing the ra­dio sta­tion was noth­ing more than a dream. The en­tire time I was a stu­dent, WKHS was al­ways the pro­gram that was con­sid­ered to be on the chop­ping block, be­cause there weren’t a lot of kids in­ter­ested in it, it cost a lot of money to run it, it was un­like other schools in the state of Mary­land be­cause they weren’t for­tu­nate enough to have a ra­dio sta­tion, and a bunch of other rea­sons we were al­ways thrown,” Flee­gle said. “So, for a long time I never thought I would see the day where it hap­pened be­cause it was such a strug­gle just to keep the pro­gram, let alone build off of it.”

He added, “But here we are nine years af­ter I grad­u­ated, and it fi­nally got the makeover it de­served. Mr. Sin­gle­ton de­serves the credit be­cause it was his vi­sion when he came in and his de­ter­mi­na­tion to get it done that fi­nally got the job done years later.”

Flee­gle is the voice of Wash­ing­ton Col­lege ath­let­ics as the broad­cast­ing co­or­di­na­tor. He also writes some of the ath­letic de­part­ment news re­leases.

He said he “owes my life, my pas­sion, my love for broad­cast­ing, I owe it all to WKHS.”

Flee­gle said he learned many valu­able skills dur­ing his three years in the high school’s broad­cast­ing pro­gram. What has stayed with him the most is the im­por­tance of time man­age­ment and prepa­ra­tion.

“Prepa­ra­tion was key to mak­ing sure I was able to put out a qual­ity broad­cast, which is some­thing I still strive for in my work at Wash- in­g­ton Col­lege to­day, and time man­age­ment is very im­por­tant be­cause I had to learn how to work quickly and un­der pres­sure to en­sure that ev­ery­thing I said on the air sounded skilled, pre­pared and cor­rect,” Flee­gle said.

Joseph “Lit­tle C” Ci­chocki, who was the stu­dent sta­tion man­ager for both semesters of his se­nior year in 2013-14, cred­ited the broad­cast­ing pro­gram at KCHS with open­ing the door for him as an emer­gency man­age­ment as­so­ciate for Queen Anne’s County. Ci­chocki said that un­der Sin­gle­ton’s tute­lage, he learned how to write pub­lic ser­vice an­nounce­ments and in­ter­act with the pub­lic in a pro­fes­sional man­ner.

Flee­gle, and oth­ers, were awestruck by the trans­for­ma­tion of the high school’s ra­dio sta­tion.

There has been a com­plete cos­metic up­grade to the stu­dios and lobby. That means new car­pet, wall fin­ish­ing, paint, HVAC, light­ing, au­dio and com­puter equip­ment, and coun­ter­top and fur­ni­ture re­place­ment, bring­ing the sta­tion up to eight fully func­tion­ing stu­dios.

The sta­tion had only two stu­dios and two in­ter­view rooms when it was built.

Sin­gle­ton, a 1984 KCHS grad­u­ate, said this is the first com­plete ren­o­va­tion. The “ON AIR” stu­dio fur­ni­ture and au­dio con­sole were up­graded in 1987, and the con­sole was re­placed again in 2001.

Other than this and some ba­sic equip­ment up­grades, the sta­tion had re­mained un­changed for most of that time, Sin­gle­ton said.

Ju­nior Kaylin Truax, a sec­ondyear stu­dent in the broad­cast­ing pro­gram, brought her mother to last week’s open house. “She said, ‘Oh, this is what a ra­dio sta­tion looks like.’ And I said, ‘This is not what it looked like last year.’”

Truax, who is known as DJ Kay, said she was “wowed” by all the ex­tra space.

Sin­gle­ton es­ti­mated the cost at $175,000, with all but $30,000 of that com­ing from fund drives and busi­ness spon­sor­ships.

He agreed with his for­mer stu­dent Flee­gle that for the long­est time a new-look sta­tion seemed unattain­able.

“It started out with the idea of just up­grad­ing the Air Stu­dio con­sole about 6 years ago. From there, it grew into a com­plete ren­o­va­tion project plan to trans­form the ra­dio sta­tion from a ‘ 1980’s Ra­dio look’ into a modern day fa­cil­ity. This was the vi­sion I had for the ra­dio sta­tion af­ter Dr. Couch (Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Couch) ar­rived at KCPS,” Sin­gle­ton wrote in an email Sun­day.

Prior to Couch’s hir­ing in 2013, Sin­gle­ton said he never thought it would be pos­si­ble to take on a project of this scale due to fund­ing con­cerns.

Sin­gle­ton said the new su­per­in­ten­dent shared his vi­sion and en­cour­aged his fundrais­ing ef­forts, which he said “kicked into high gear” two years ago when Ken Collins was brought in as spon­sor­ship man­ager.

“Thanks to all of our com­mu­nity sup­port, we were able to have the ‘dream’ come to fruition in un­der 3 years,” Sin­gle­ton said in his email.

PHOTO BY TR­ISH MCGEE

Chris Sin­gle­ton, third from left, is the ra­dio sta­tion man­ager at alma mater Kent County High School. He hosted alumni, friends and fam­ily at the Nov. 1 open house. From left are Joseph Ci­chocki ’14, Kent County Mid­dle School eighth-grader John Sin­gle­ton and Con­ner Flee­gle ’09.

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