Despite not being big radio listeners, middle and high school students attended a Radio Waves Summer Camp at Mount Airy Museum of Regional History during the second week of July, the first camp the museum has offered to this age group.
“Sometimes, when I’m in the car,” Caleb Fox, age 14, shrugged in response to a question about his radio-listening habits.
Nevertheless, Caleb, who traveled to Mount Airy from his home in Galax to attend the camp, was industriously applying himself to building a radio of his own, soldering capacitors, diodes and resistors to a circuit board.
When asked if he said ‘capacitor,’ Caleb clarified. “A capacitor, not a flux capacitor. It doesn’t take 1.2 gigawatts.” Caleb laughed heartily at his reference to movie more than twice as old as he is — a movie made at a time when radio was already old technology.
“The challenge came from our board,” said Kate Rauhauser-Smith, director of education and programs for the museum. “They wanted us to offer summer programming for this age group, and part of my education was radio. It was something I could do.”
Patrick Miller, 14 and a student at Fletcher Academy in Raleigh, was interested in podcasting. Patrick lives in Durham, and his family was camping in the area so he could attend the camp.
If you can provide affordable camps for kids this age, they’re willing to travel, summed up Rauhauser-Smith.
Rauhauser-Smith and the museum took a holistic approach to the week of instruction. The kids studied the business models of public and commercial radio, discussed sportscasting, learned about storytelling and podcasting, and finally, built a radio of their own on Friday with the assistance of Rick Caudill.
Paul Madren, a museum volunteer and member of its board, started off the week with a talk to the kids on Monday.
“He’s in the North Carolina Engineers Hall of Fame,” said Rauhauser-Smith. “He worked on a government contract that allowed the world to go from analog to digital. He’s had an intrinsic impact on all of our lives, and the kids benefited from hearing him.”
“Tuesday we took a field trip to WPAQ and spent the day there. Kelly Epperson told the kids about sportscasting and commercial radio and Tim Frey took them on a tour of the station. The next day Gabriel Maisonnave, the education program manager for WFDD in Winston-Salem came to see the kids and talked to them about how the business model of public radio differed from commercial radio. He also talked about podcasting.
“They were very interested in podcasting,” said Rauhauser-Smith. “We might go somewhere with that in the future. They can do a podcast. They have things to say.”
On Thursday, Terri Ingalls, a local storyteller, talked to the kids about storytelling.
“A story is a story,” said Rauhauser-Smith. “The medium and the technology changes, but storytelling doesn’t.”
Reach Bill Colvard at 336-415-4699.