WKHS holds open house for new studio
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.
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.