At first glance, Bloomfield Hills High School appears to offer what many other high schools do- athletics, performing arts, and language courses- but there’s one learning opportunity Bloomfield Hills offers that sets it apart from typical high schools, and that’s its very own radio station.
WBFH.FM The BIFF Radio Station operates directly out of Bloomfield Hills High School and enables students to broadcast their own shows on air. Late last year, the station was in need of an automation system that would simplify the production process and keep students on task.
“When you’re dealing with kids in high school who really don’t have a lot of time to master something and have so many other things going on in their mind, to sit them down and pull out charts and graphs, you know their attention spans are a little off focus,” says Ron Wittebols, assistant station manager and technical director of WBFH Radio.
After learning about ENCO DAD, a complete audio playout automation and control system for radio and television, Wittebols decided to integrate the system into WBFH’s on-air and production workflow.
“DAD allows a simple, streamlined operation so that any teenager can use it. That’s basically the whole reason as to why we picked DAD; it’s simple and easy to use.”
WBFH is licensed with the Bloomfield Hills School District, allowing middle school and elementary school students to also produce for the radio station. Since the implementation of DAD, students as young as four have used the automation system to create productions.
“DAD is all drag and drop now. Students can spend more time concentrating on their student production than trying to figure out how to inject it into the operating system,” says Wittebols. “Everything is upfront, easily labeled and logical. It takes a matter of minutes.”
Students use Adobe audition to create their productions, and use Dropbox to inject the productions into the ENCO system. ENCO also integrates seamlessly with WBFH’s other systems, including a PowerGold music scheduling system.
Wittebols relied on ENCO to install the DAD software, which minimized any installation challenges. “You can install it on your own, but I’d recommend inviting ENCO to set it up. They stand by their product and it’s a great way to meet ENCO face to face.”
While the implementation has posed no challenges to Wittebols or the students, ensuring students don’t tamper with the system is a potential challenge WBFH and other school radio stations may face.
“Kids are curious about things. They may go in and set things up differently. If they were to go into the system and tamper with it, they could probably crash it,” says Wittebols. “It’s a very complex and powerful machine and if kids were to peak under the hood, they could probably mess it up.”
With the implementation of the ENCO DAD automation system, students at Bloomfield Hills have the unique opportunity to work with a high-tech automation system that prepares them for a career in broadcasting and radio production.
“Radio has really taken a beating, and there really isn’t a farm team for radio anymore,” says Wittebols. “High school and college stations are really the only farm team we have and it’s really important to have cutting-edge technology like the ENCO DAD system for the kids to use as a tool.”