c89.5 provides a supportive learning environment for high school students, giving them work experience and building professional skills for success in the future.
c89.5 is a Career and Technical Education (CTE) program at Nathan Hale High School in north Seattle. Our Digital Media program consists of individual semester-long courses, beginning with Intro to Digital Media 1 , then Advanced Digital Media 2, 3, and 4, as well as internships (unpaid and paid) and volunteer opportunities.
Our students learn important skills like audio production, radio programming, broadcast writing, and live announcing. Most importantly, the one-on-one support and work experience they get at c89.5 helps our students develop the confidence and professionalism to be successful in the work-world.
A drawing worth 1,000 words, by Honda, class of 2024
Digital Media 1
Our intro class, Digital Media 1, is taught by Brian Babenic. Brian is a multi-talented radio and audio professional. In addition to Intro, Brian teaches Audio Production, is the adviser to the student-lead Yearbook club and produces 60 Watts, Monday’s 2a – 3a, on c89.5
Welcome to Digital Media 1, the class where we create multimedia content for real audiences. In this semester long course, you will explore careers in media and journalism, while actively participating in the operations of c89.5 FM, Nathan Hale’s broadcast radio program.
This course is part of the Digital Media Pathway, which is a Career and Technical Education course sequence that meets the requirements of Washington state’s HB1599. Students in this pathway will have the opportunity to earn an industry recognized credential and will be prepared to enter a related post-secondary or certificate program.
- Create multimedia content for real audiences
- Think critically about the media you consume
- Apply broadcast writing techniques
- Master technical skills in audio and video recording, editing and production
- Use social media effectively to connect with audiences
- Demonstrate knowledge of broadcast and copyright law
- Practice ethical journalism
- Practice workplace professionalism
- Understand career options in the industry
Because we’re participating in the real operations of c89.5 FM, our classroom is a workplace. Students are expected to show up to the workplace on time, with the necessary tools, and ready to work. Each week we will explore new ideas and put them into practice through project-based learning.
Several of our projects will be collaborative efforts in which the whole class teams up to carry out a production. We will co-create departments and job roles, and each student gets to own the responsibilities and develop the skills needed to fulfill their role. In between our collaborative projects, you’ll have chances to create your own individual ideas for productions and bring them to life.
Being respectful and kind toward yourself and others is essential. Everyone has the right to learn, be themselves, speak their truth, and feel safe. Please let me know if you need additional resources or alternative assignments. If you communicate with me, I will work with you to come to an agreement we both feel is helpful for your growth and learning. I encourage you to self-advocate for your academic and professional success with me, other teachers, your peers, and your family.
The “Prods” (student production rooms, 1-5)
Each production room is outfitted with an Audioarts DMX digital mixing console, an Electro-Voice RE20 microphone, stereo speakers, and keyboard, mouse, and dual computer monitors. For health reasons, each student gets their own pair of headphones and a microphone “pop” filter for the duration of their time at c89.5.
Advanced Digital Media
Our Advanced Digital Media courses are taught by Harmony Soleil, who has a wide range of media skills and experience in commercial radio to share with students. In addition to being an instructor, Harmony wears a lot of other hats at c89.5: Music Director, Assistant Program Director, and producer of Guest Mix Seattle, Guest Mix Wednesday, and Weekend Windup.
Advanced Digital Media is where students begin to put the things they’ve learned so far into practice – producing audio and online content for the most important graders they’ll ever have in school: our listeners!
One of the keys to the success of c89.5’s educational program is that each student receives one-on-one instruction from our teachers and staff. We approach instruction more as a mentorship or professional job coaching. Students are treated – and expected to behave – as adults and they understand their work is not performed for the teacher, but 100,000’s of listeners! Some students can find it overwhelming at first, but the mentoring relationship and the sense of excitement about doing something “real” usually helps them power through those fears.
Students who are excited about live radio join Drew Bailey, c89.5’s morning host and operations director, before school during “zero period”and work as co-producers and co-presenters of the morning show.
The concept was dreamed up by Amelie, with Drew providing support, encouragement, and judicious editorial advice. The results: local business supporter, Museum of Flight, asked if they could sponsor Anomaly’s Phenomalies and the show recently won a 1st place prize in the 2022 National Student Production Awards of the College Broadcasters, Inc. Students more inclined toward the engineering side of broadcasting can work directly with Drew and our Chief Engineer, Buzz Anderson, on technical operations, equipment installation and maintenance, and live remote broadcasts in the community, such as Pridefest, the Museum of Flight, and other civic events.
(Fun fact: before an audio signal can be amplified by a transmitter and broadcast from an antenna it must first pass through an Aural Exciter; aptly named when it comes to c89.5!)
At c89,5, we are continuing to develop new and future-oriented learning opportunities for students. In 2022, we began a paid internship program, funded with support from c89.5 donors. This innovative new project gives three students the chance to deeply immerse themselves in the production of broadcast media.
Our 2023 student interns, Luz, Elijah, and Sofian, worked individually with each of c89.5’s staff, learning everything from how to produce social media content with Harmony, record and edit station announcements with Ron, to how Yolanda, our business manager, tracks income and expenses in Excel.
Our interns also collaborated on a project of their own: producing a short, animated feature to help promote our Studio Upgrade fundraiser. Luz did all the animation, Elijah, Sofian, and our PD, Ron, did the voice overs.
c89.5’s educational program is highly regarded in the broadcast industry and our graduates regular find work in media right out of high school.
Sidenote: c89.5 boasts some notable former students, including KUBE’s Eric Powers, WARM’s Shellie Hart, and Jim McKenna, a founding producer of the TV shows “Bill Nye, the Science Guy” and Disney’s “Biz Kid$’)
The Science Guy Connection
Bill Nye the Science Guy might never have made it big if not for c89.5. The hit PBS series was the creation of Nye, c89.5 alum James McKenna and his partner Erren Gottlieb.
McKenna credits his years at c89.5 for his start in broadcasting:
“I discovered c89.5 when I was in 9th grade and ended up virtually living at the station. My radio teacher got me my first job in radio. A few years later I’m a young producer on a comedy series called Almost Live! That’s where I met Bill and Erren and the rest is history.”
McKenna’s love of c89.5 endures. Now a member of our Board of Directors, he works to pass those opportunities along to the next generation:
“Throughout my career, from the Science Guy, to our Biz Kid$ series on financial literacy, I’ve had the good fortune to create media that educates and inspires young people. None of that would have happened without c89.5, literally, and that is why I’m such a huge supporter to this day.”
A key to the success of c89.5’s program is that our students are treated like employees, earning a grade by producing professional-quality media content. What’s interesting, given the chance to do something real – producing radio for 100,000’s of listeners each week – our students rise to the occasion, often surprising themselves as well as their peers and parents. For Ody, c89.5 was a lifeline during her teen years.
“I’m Ody- a high spirited, goofy, giggly, first-generation US Citizen. ‘Advanced Radio’ was my go-to place to hang out, help out and gain experience. Without the class, I doubt I’d be as encouraged and ready for a new path as I am now. Although it seems odd, I was once incredibly shy and had a hard time figuring out what to do with my future. Thankfully, I’ve had guidance at c89.5! The fact is, radio has helped me a lot. It’s a platform where I’m able to express my dorky self and feel at home. When everything seemed unbearable and I was struggling to keep myself afloat, I had one secure place where I knew I could be myself and be supported. All thanks to c89.5!” – Ody, Class of 2019
Today, Ody is a true radio professional, working as a board operator and host at Hubbard Radio’s KKNW and KIXI.
c89.5 has showed me how I can be independent and use my voice to express myself in talking to people and even recording on c89.5! Your donation helps students like myself break out of their comfort zone and find their own voice. Emma, 17, Senior.
I have learned so much here and it’s really opened me up as a person. It’s been a huge confidence boost for me. When I came into radio freshman year, I was a very shy kid. And while I’m still not the most social person, radio definitely helped me out a lot and for that I’m grateful. JD, 17, Senior
To say that working at c89.5 changed my life would be a vast understatement. Through working there, I found how much I love working with music and audio. I started to DJ, worked as an audio engineer for nightclubs and festivals, as well as producing and releasing my own music. I doubt any of that would have happened were it not for c89.5 and the wonderful people there. Eddie, listener and donor in Kent.
c89.5 featured on KOMO TV’s Eric’s Heroes
The simplest way to explain how c89.5’s educational programs are funded is that the classroom learning experience is made possible by the school district but the radio station that listener’s love and the real-world experience students get when they work for the station – that’s all funded by donations from listeners and underwriting by local business supporters.
Over 87% of the station’s operating budget comes from our community of listeners and business believers; about 3% comes from the Seattle School district; and 10% from the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
Everything it takes for our broadcast service to listeners, from microphones and headphones to the rent on our broadcast tower and streaming service, and to the staff who run day-to-day operations and who mentor students in the craft of broadcasting – this is what donations help pays for.
Income – 2022
Expenses – 2022