Guest Post: K-12 Student Radio – Making Media Educational & Fun

In today’s remote and blended learning environment, radio is becoming an essential tool for teachers and students alike. We’re thrilled to share a contributed post by Paula Neidlinger, media educator and co-author of Scripted, An Educator’s Guide to Media in the Classroom, the marvelous, new book that illustrates how to introduce 21st Century technology into K-12 schools, and why. Here she gives us a view of how she has applied these technologies in her middle school in Indiana with amazing success.

Scripted, an Educator's Guide to Media in the Classroom

“New Age” Radio: K-12 Student Radio – Making Media Educational & Fun

By Paula Neidlinger

Through the maze of desks, in the back of the middle school classroom, a pillar of tall, slender sound baffles, tower over a large, red wooden table. Student voices resonate like a small chorus. The red sign perched on the edge of the chalkboard, proudly affirms that this is the home of “Storm Radio,” the school Internet radio station.

Storm Radio is a middle school radio station run by 7th & 8th-grade students during 45-minute class periods throughout the school day and facilitated by one media teacher. For the last five years, Storm Radio has been “riding the waves” on the air, 24/7, using Backbone Radio as the core broadcasting software. Although “The Golden Age of Radio” might be in the history books, student-run radio stations are creeping into the K-12 classrooms around the country, capturing the imaginations of listeners using words rather than pictures to engage their listeners.

Student-run radio stations provide a platform for students to build communication skills and express their thoughts and ideas, unleashing imaginations for all to hear and enjoy. Students are able to develop their radio shows based on personal interest and current school and community news and events daily. Very few schools are equipped with state-of-the-art studios; some stations are housed in small workrooms, corners of classrooms, or even closets. Storm Radio started with nothing more than a rolling desk, computer, a microphone and headsets.

School radio affords students of all ages the opportunity to master broadcast technologies, including audio production and recording, streaming, scheduling, and how to use “the Cloud.” Students learn by producing live on-air broadcasting including remotes, creating and publishing podcasts, launching school news briefings to smart devices like Alexa®, and maybe even engaging call-in listeners, such as Backbone Talk, which allows listeners to call in and join the broadcast.

Is radio only for a media class? Building a station offers numerous cross-curricular opportunities for all students within the school building. Promoting radio broadcasting possibilities is key to a successful school station. Consider some of the following ideas:

  • Producing radio commercials for community sponsors.
  • Producing PSAs.
  • Producing radio promotions for marketing purposes.
  • Broadcasting play-by-play sporting events and special school events, such as dances, plays, or music concerts.
  • Broadcasting on-location community special events.
  • Hosting radio days.
  • Hosting local civic organizations in-studio podcasts and radio shows.
  • Hosting student-produced Vinyl Fridays.

Who’s Listening? How many times has a student asked, “Is anyone actually listening?” One of the greatest benefits of 21st-century technology-infused classrooms is the integration of authentic audiences. Launching a student-produced radio station enables students to reach listeners worldwide with “live, local” shows produced solely by students. Most importantly, they have a global audience.

Let’s get technical. At the helm of Storm Radio is Backbone Radio. Backbone’s advanced technology “virtualizes” (in the cloud) all of the expensive production and broadcast equipment, including automation, storage, servers, and even phones. This automation allows schools to broadcast essentially, anywhere- home, sporting events, dances, and any classroom throughout the day as long as there is an Internet connection and a computer.

What if I teach in a blended or virtual learning environment? All stations on the Backbone platform are on the air all the time, 24/7. When your students are not broadcasting LIVE, the automation system takes over to run your recorded content, like music, concerts, interviews, old shows, or your podcasts—overnight, weekends, or during vacation. Teachers and students are able to program it from anywhere and can go LIVE anytime.

K-12 Student Radio teams with Scripted, the Educator's Guide to Media in the Classroom, for remote and blended learning environments
See Backbone’s K-12 Media Project page

Backbone Radio has created a K-12 Student-Radio Media Project, aimed at helping schools of all levels develop productive, fun, and professional sounding student-run Internet radio stations for the benefit of students, families, alumni, and the schools themselves.

School radio provides an exciting and engaging medium for your students to develop their communication skills, build confidence and discuss the issues that are important to them within a classroom, studio, or virtual setting. The station can become a focal point for your school where students express their views in a safe environment, which will promote inclusion and the school community. It is perhaps the “New Age” of radio.

We at Backbone thank the authors of Scripted for illustrating how easy it is to start teaching media technology as early as possible in the K-12 system, and how important it is to do so. This book could be the turbo boost your school needs, especially today and into the “new normal”. Please order your copy of Scripted from Amazon or Barnes & Noble today.

About the Author

Paula Neidlinger



Scripted Educators- @scriptededu

Scripted Educators- Facebook

Website- Scripted- An Educator’s Guide to Media in the Classroom

Publisher- EduMatch Publishing

An Indiana University B.A. & M.S. graduate, Paula Neidlinger is a globally connected, 28-year middle school, veteran media and English educator, presenter, and author.

COVID Virginia Station Helps Listeners Be “Together in Isolation” — Radio World

COVID Virginia Radio Station with Backbone NetworksThe TV/Radio industry is suddenly embracing the benefits of cloud broadcasting as the world fights against COVID-19. In the new Radio World, read how one Roanoke resident has quickly launched a powerful emergency radio station with the help of his community and Backbone Networks, using the gear they already own: laptops and smartphones.

COVID Virginia Radio, via BackboneCOVID Virginia, a hyper-local station created by veteran radio reporter Bill Trifiro, promises to be a template for communities in dealing with national, regional, and local crises. Bill recognized the importance of employing an integrated cloud approach like Backbone Production Suite™ in terms of ease of use, quality, reliability, and affordability.

The station’s cloud-based core, donated by Backbone, provides live radio assist, automation, streaming, terrestrial syndication, multiline call-in phones with SMS handling, studio quality remotes, multiple co-hosts from their homes, podcast generation and hosting, and a branded website with HTML5 player.

With Backbone’s cloud topology your station can:

  • Produce better broadcasts, made easier, by more people, at a lower cost
  • Avoid specialized equipment, just use your laptops and smartphones
  • Scale up to as many remote contributors as desired via the downloadable LUCI Global app
  • Manage phones and take calls from anywhere
  • Eliminate the IT issues of complex studio equipment
  • Transmit professional sound, rivaling conventional hardware solutions
Backbone Talk Radio Production Suite, in the cloud

Manage all broadcast communications on one Mac® screen.

During this COVID pandemic and beyond, your Backbone friends want to help in any way we can. We think Bill’s brilliant concept is a game changer in battling this threat and perhaps threats to come.

If you are an existing AM/FM/TV station or municipality, please contact us. We have a limited number of slots available for a 30- to 60-day “free trial”, maybe longer. If you want to keep or repurpose it when this all goes away, it’s less than $700/month, fully loaded, including unlimited LUCI Global users and usage.