COQUILLE — Winter Lakes High School could soon be on the airwaves.
There was a small window for people to apply for a radio license from the Federal Communications Commission and Mary Geddry, a parent of two Winter Lakes high-schoolers, saw an opportunity for the school to apply.
"My vision, assuming this all comes together, is it would be managed from Winter Lakes but I'd like to open it to all high school students in the area," Winter Lakes High principal Tony Jones said, referring to both Coquille and Myrtle Point students.
If the school is awarded the license, the planning phase begins. Those working on the station will begin looking for community partners.
"It's just a notion at this point but hopefully a notion that becomes a reality," he said.
Geddry said the station is an opportunity for "hyper-local, community programming."
She said the FCC is expected to post a list of all applicants by Friday and "assuming there are no conflicts for that frequency, then they should have it processed within a few months."
"If you're applying in an area like Coquille, there's plenty of bandwidth so more than one station could conceivably get a license," she said. "I think it's fun. They (the students) would have an opportunity to learn how to deliver information, how to start movements, how to organize, how to do community service. The potential is limited only by the imagination of the people involved."
Broadcasting isn't a foreign concept for Jones. Three of his four children were student general managers of KMHS, Marshfield High School's radio station, when the family lived in Coos Bay.
KMHS student general manager Daysha Browne, a junior, became hooked on the radio station before she even began her high school career. During eighth grade orientation, she toured the radio station and thought it was "the coolest thing."
She took two radio classes her freshman year, became operations manager and started her own 30-minute show last year and now she's the general manager.
Right now, eight students run the station, though they're hiring more next week.
"It's good experience for kids who never had a job in high school," she said. "You have deadlines and you learn things most kids never get to learn. And it boosts your communication skills so much. I used to never talk in front of people and now I'm a social butterfly."
Jones hopes the station would give his students similar opportunities.
"Students would get a first-hand opportunity to collaborate, organize, structure and be creative," he said. "I envision it being not just a music station but have some student-produced shows and talk radio."
The station would be low-power, so it wouldn't reach beyond the Coquille area. It would also differ from KMHS in that it wouldn't have an advertising or sales department, operating as a non-profit.
"But it still serves a purpose for students," he said. "It gives them a creative outlet and incorporates their ability to do it first-hand. That's a theme at Winter Lakes. Our students always have internships with local businesses."
The station could also fill another role: communication during a disaster. Currently, Jones said the Coquille valley doesn't have a station specifically dedicated to disaster information.
"This could hook up with county and city officials and if a disaster occurs, people could tune in here if the phone lines go out," he said.
Thankfully, a radio tower already exists in Coquille, so a new one wouldn't need to be built. The biggest challenge will be the cost of equipment, which he said could cost up to $15,000.
While it's hard work, KMHS' Browne said it's fun and flows smoothly.
"I think it would be a good learning opportunity if they (Winter Lakes students) came to check it out," she said of the KMHS station.
Updated: This story previously ran with an error regarding the type of radio station Winter Lakes is hoping to acquire. The station would be low-power, meaning it would not transmit above 100 watts.