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School for visually impaired starts its own radio station

Pioneer School for Visually Impaired learners started its own radio station. Photo: WCED

Pioneer School for Visually Impaired learners started its own radio station. Photo: WCED

Published Jun 6, 2022

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Cape Town - A Western Cape school for visually impaired pupils has launched its own radio station and Radio Academy.

The Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired in Worcester has its radio station broadcasting live from the school every Wednesday from 7pm until 8pm.

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It is an online radio station.

According to the Western Cape Education Department’s (WCED) Director of Communication, Bronagh Hammond, during the broadcast, pupils share stories, and news, do interviews and report on all activities in and around the school.

“They are also trained in proper microphone etiquette, operating the various aspects of a studio, producing, sound engineering, compiling and presenting specialised programmes, scriptwriting and compilation of radio ads, etc.,” Hammond said.

School principal Michael Bredenkamp said the purpose of this new addition to the school was to educate and empower blind and visually impaired pupils to become broadcasters and, in turn, create employment.

The Pioneer School for Visually Impaired learners started its own radio station. Photo: WCED

The school’s music teacher Quinten Pendle is the driving force behind the radio project at the school.

Pendle saw the gap in employment opportunities for visually impaired persons.

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“As a blind person, I have had to compete with other “normal” or “sighted” people to get a job and to provide for my family.

“When I started teaching at Pioneer School at the beginning of last year, I wanted to contribute towards enriching the lives of our pupils, equipping them with skills and knowledge that they could apply in a practical manner once they leave school,” he said.

Pendle has been involved with a community-based radio station in Malmesbury, Perron FM, for six years.

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He said radio has always played a vital role in the lives of blind people.

“I figured that this might be an extra field in which they could excel, hopefully opening up more job opportunities for them later in their lives,” Pendle said.

A room in the music building is being made soundproof and ready for use as a broadcasting studio.

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Pupils started off with training and preparation last year and went live on air on September 9 for the first time.

The school, which had been using Pendle’s spare equipment, which includes a computer, mixing desk and microphones, to stay on air, received a generous donation in February from Dankie Lottoland, which now allows them to be able to buy all necessary studio equipment and software.

Pupils from Grade 9 to 12 are encouraged to join the school’s Radio Academy.

So far, nine pupils have joined the academy.

Pendle said broadcasters are keen interviewers, and not only are they bringing the most amazing stories onto the airwaves, but they also have great ideas, some of which have already been implemented into the schedule.

“We also endeavour to let our younger pupils, as well as those with special needs, take part in our broadcasts, either by means of being interviewed or as part of other activities that take place at our school.

“Some of the topics that were covered include the recent helicopter trips that we were fortunate to experience, scuba diving classes, goal ball and athletic championships.

“One of our Grade 4 learners also performed his very own piano composition on air.

“Our radio station serves as a method of entertainment for both students and staff, a platform for communicating information, and as a marketing tool for our school,” Pendle said.

While the school only has a one-hour broadcast a week, it has the capacity and eagerness of pupils to fill more time.

Their broadcasting time is likely to expand in future.

The academy has already received positive feedback from listeners.

“Most of them are involved with our school in some way or another, but we also have regular listeners from other walks of life, even from the USA.

“We do a lot of marketing on social media, we have created our own Facebook page (Pioneer School Radio), and we’re working towards getting a dedicated WhatsApp number through which we hope to encourage healthy interaction between presenters and listeners,” Pendle added.

Visit http://s2.stationplaylist.com:7124/listen.mp3 to tune into the broadcast.

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