WGVE–FM, named after the initials for "Gary's Voice of Education," was created in 1954 at Lew Wallace Senior High School. The station was created "to enhance the local school curriculum by airing instructional programs" and to provide students with radio broadcast training in a high school class environment. It broadcasts on the FM band of the radio at 88.7 Megahertz.
At Lew Wallace, it was located near the main entrance of the high school at room B–112. In that room, a broadcast studio was built, and it included much of the production equipment necessary for a real radio station. The transmitter for the station was on the roof of the school, initially generating less than 50 watts of power, an extremely low power for radio stations. In 1969, the broadcast station moved to the Vocational Technical High School at 35th and Indiana Street (later changed to Martin Luther King Drive). Applications to the FCC in 1969 indicated that the new location would have an antenna of approximately 125 feet, and an increased power of 2.1 Kilowatts.
The Lew Wallace classroom was set up in two parts. One side was a modified traditional classroom with desks, but also with soundproofing panels on the walls, since this part of the class was used for larger group set ups with standing microphones. On the other side a radio studio.
The radio studio was set up with a tilted glass partition and soundproofing inside the studio. It had a heavy soundproofing door with an "On The Air" light outside the studio. Inside the studio was traditional radio and recording equipment, all of it dating from the 1950s and 1960s, since new equipment was not a priority after the station moved in 1969. There were two turntables, two tape recorders, as well as a tape cartridge machine or two. There was also a collection of old records (33 1/3, 45, and 78) and various tapes-reel-to-reel as well as cartridges.
The curriculum focussed on several major areas. One was in radio production skills, and while the station was operating at Lew Wallace, actual broadcasting, both live and recorded. On-air techniques regarding announcing, including how to use the microphone correctly and how to pronounce words clearly, were all basic parts of class work.
Also on the production side, the class was taught how to use the tape recorder, how to make tape cartridges (which would be used for commercials and other short formatted Items), and how to mix and dub tapes and other sources, such as records.. Radio programs were produced, such as radio plays, individual radio shows by students, and interview programs. Some of the work created in the studio at Lew Wallace was subsequently aired on WGVE, after the move to the technical high school.
Another focus was the assignment of students to study, to take the test for, and to receive an FCC third class professional license. This part of the class involved studying the various technical rules about radio, subsequently taking a test at the FCC headquarters in downtown Chicago. Licenses so received allowed the holder of that license to fill out a radio logs and engineering logs at a radio station. Log entries were required several times a day at all licensed radio stations per FCC rules.
Lew Wallace continued to have a radio class after the actual broadcast station move to the technical high school in 1969. If one wanted to continue to study radio and radio production, he or she would have to take a three hour class every morning or afternoon at the technical high school, and subsequently moved back and forth between their high school for the rest of classroom day.
- Robert Shafis
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