Fourteen-year-old Kaitlin Blaylock bopped her head a little to the music between stints speaking into an oversized microphone at WWCU-FM of Western Carolina University on Wednesday afternoon.
The Smoky Mountain High School sophomore and member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians had read news from the Cherokee One Feather for a pre-recorded radio show before, but she had never gone live on the air until Wednesday. It was Cherokee Youth in Radio Day, and WWCU-FM (Power 90.5) partnered with the radio initiative to let students take the reins of an afternoon radio show.
“I’m thrilled to be here,” said Blaylock, who saw the chance to deejay as a way to combine her love of music and words. “Music is my life, and working with it is something I imagine only in my wildest dreams.”
Kyle McCurry, student general manager of WWCU-FM, the broadcast service of the university, said to put your voice out to potentially 90,000 listeners is powerful, and Blaylock did an amazing job. She even carried off a song request and dedication – to herself.
“Her boyfriend called and requested ‘My Best Friend’ by Queen,” said McCurry. “She said on the air that it was ‘to me from my boyfriend.’”
Teresa McCoy, a staff member in the Teen Center with the Cherokee Youth Center Boys and Girls Club, said the Youth in Radio initiative funded by the Cherokee Preservation Foundation has helped students learn new skills and build confidence. McCoy estimated more than five dozen students have participated since March preparing pre-recorded news programs, which air on Power 90.5 through a partnership with Western. Some discover they enjoy being behind the microphone. Others discover they enjoy being behind-the-scenes, editing the audio.
“You can’t get them out of the radio room,” McCoy said.
For more information, contact Kyle McCurry at 828-227-3533.