An article in the April edition of Radio Magazine about how Biff students use ENCO’s DAD system and software was written by Assistant Manager/Technical Director Ron Wittebols. The article was entitled Teenagers Really Love Having DAD in the Studio and featured photos of Biff students Jonah Lopas and Matthew Brennecke.
I had the privilege of starting my communications career at age 11.
That’s because I had the exceptionally good fortune to grow up in a community that funded a radio station, put it inside of a school, staffed it primarily with students and made it accessible. By the time I got to college, I had seven years of experience on the air but also invaluable leadership and teamwork lessons learned behind the scenes. This adventure began more than 30 years ago and it’s reassuring to know it will continue long into the future.
This weekend, I had the honor to speak at the dedication of spectacular new studios for WBFH-FM in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. The people who make decisions about the area where I grew up, which is not too far away from where I live now, have decided to invest in the future of community broadcasting. When the school district decided to merge two high schools into one, leaders determined that WBFH should be the physical centerpiece of the new school, to ensure its relevance, vibrancy and accessibility well into the future.
I remarked during the dedication ceremony how energizing it is to see a long-term commitment made to local media. In today’s environment where, for better or for worse, large public corporations own media outlets, decisions are made about meeting financial targets quarter-to-quarter. Decisions about “the future” often mean next year. Cuts and “more with less” rule the day in ways that audiences are having a hard time understanding.
WBFH will turn 40 years old in October. During the dedication ceremony, community leaders spoke of “the next 40 years” for the station. That kind of talk is unheard of as commercial media faces an uncertain future. I remarked, tongue slightly in cheek, that “Leaders here seem to care more about the future of broadcasting than the corporations that are in the business of broadcasting.” That is not to suggest public companies should abandon commitments to shareholders to make capital investments. But it sure is refreshing to see broadcasting, which is now happening over an app and not just via a tower, embraced by a community that understands its value to education as well as quality of life.
The Biff and high school radio stations all over the United States came together for one day of celebration April 20th when the 5th Annual High School Radio Day continued as an annual event. Since there are so few high schools with radio stations, High School Radio Day (HSRD) raises a greater awareness of the ones that are still broadcasting over the air and newer ones that are streaming online.
A website has been created to publicize the activities planned by participating stations on April 20th: www.highschoolradioday.com. Schools can register their stations on that site. Also on the site are links to participating high schools with links to their websites and online streams of their programming; notable high school radio grads; links to other high school stations nationwide; and a resource page with information pertinent to high school broadcasters.
High School Radio Day was created after College Radio Day launched in 2011. Though College Radio Day did allow high school stations to register, organizers felt that high school stations should have their own day. High School Radio Day Founder Pete Bowers (General Manager, WBFH-FM, Bloomfield Hills, MI) scheduled the first HSRD in May 2012.
Bowers estimates that there are only about 200 high schools in the nation with either a terrestrial over-the-air non-commercial, educational radio station or an internet-only or online radio station. “The number of terrestrial stations is dropping but the number of online stations is increasing with some of those applying for LPFM construction permits,” said Bowers. “That’s why we need to unite on High School Radio Day and make the public aware of what we do, how we do it, and the service we provide our communities,” he said.
Bowers is thrilled that High School Radio Day has become an annual event. There currently are 76 stations from 30 states participating, up from 31 schools from 16 states the first year. Students and advisors at those stations reached out to potential listeners in their broadcast area and online encouraging them to listen and be prepared to hear creative programming not heard on college and commercial radio stations.
Follow HSRD on Twitter (@HSRadioDay), Facebook (search High School Radio Day) and Instagram. Download the High School Radio app from Google Play. For more information about HSRD, contact Bowers at email@example.com or call (248) 341-5695.
Biff Radio fans attended the dedication of the new WBFH studios in the new Bloomfield Hills High School April 16th as WBFH celebrates 40 years of service this year to listeners around the world. Memories of the national and state award-winning radio program were shared and a tape cutting ceremony lead to a tour of our new radio studios.
General Manager Pete Bowers was the MC for the event which was appropriate since he started the station in August 1976 and is still driving the Biff bus 40 years later. Bowers talked about the station memorabilia on display: Vintage WBFH t-shirts and sweatshirts, original doors to the old station, articles about the station from 1976, original banners and other items housed in the WBFH Museum Showcase located in the Knowledge Market area. There was a slide show of photos taken during the two years of construction of the new studios. Old photos were also displayed including the one of Bowers in the on-air studio from 1977 wearing plaid pants that he kept and brought to show everyone at the ceremony. Biff swag was available free for those attending the dedication: New Biff earbuds, Biff t-shirts, water bottles, pens and stickers.
Speaking at the ceremony were as follows: Ron Wittebols (Assistant Manager/Technical Director/Program Director), Eric Burch (Lahser ’77, 1st DJ), Ingrid Day (School Board President), Charlie Hollerith (BHHS Principal), Jim Graham (School Board Member from the ’70s), Janet Stewart (Biff parent of sons Mark and Paul), Jake Neher (Andover ’06), Nate Bender (Lahser ’03), Matt Friedman (Andover ’90), Scott Anderson (Andover ’88), Stu Best (Andover ’80), Justin Spiro (Lahser ’05), Mark Zar (Lahser ’77), Paul Kolin (School Board Member and WBFH Sports Talk Show Host), Gary Berkowitz (Biff parent of Robyn and Corey), JoAnne Purtan (Andover ’87) and Dave Galens (Andover ’82). Bowers introduced his wife of 37 years Claudia and his brothers Jim and Tom who have been there for many WBFH events over the last 40 years. Bowers did a shout-out to his sons Adam and Eric who live in Atlanta and the Seattle area respectively and were not able to attend the event.
As advertised, there was Costco cake, cookies and turkey rollups for attendees to enjoy. Bowers gave out 1976 pennies to those who were there the day WBFH went on the air (October 1, 1976). To officially open up the studios for tours, he took a splicing block and razor blade to cut a piece of 1/4 inch audio tape, his radio version of a ribbon cutting.
Article about the Dedication Ceremony in the Eagle Newspaper: http://www.candgnews.com/news/biff-radio-celebrating-40-years-dedication-ceremony-91514
Article in Michigan Association of Broadcasters News Briefs: http://news.michmab.com/the-biff-celebrates-40-years/
Pete Bowers with BHHS Principal Charlie Hollerith.
Station photos and articles about the station from 1976.
Tom Bowers, Jim Bowers, Claudia Bowers and Pete Bowers.
Stu Best, Andover Class of 1980.
Slide show engineered by Greg Margosian.
Scott “The Gator” Anderson, Andover Class of 1988.
Matt Friedman, Andover Class of 1990.
Bowers introducing Matt Friedman.
Nate Bender, Lahser Class of 2003.
Jake Neher, Andover Class of 2006.
Biff parent Janet Stewart.
Jim Graham, former school board member from the 70’s.
BHHS Principal Charlie Hollerith.
School Board President Ingrid Day.
Assistant Manager/Technical Director/Program Director Ron Wittebols.
Pete Bowers with Eric Burch, Lahser Class of 1977 (1st DJ on the air).
WBFH Museum Showcase.
Matt Friedman in the new Studio A.
The Purtan girls…JoAnne (Andover Class of 1987), Jessica (Andover Class of 1989) and Jennifer (Andover Class of 1979).
Mark Zar (Lahser Class of 1977).
The Galens party of three: Judy (Andover Class of 1986), Dave (Andover Class of 1982) and Steve (Andover Class of 1983).
The first WBFH banner handmade out of felt.
JoAnne Purtan, Matt Friedman, Jessica Purtan, Scott Anderson and Matt Stein.
Holly Dillahunt and Judy Galens.
Don Stevenson, Lahser Class of 1977.
Eric Burch being introduced by Pete Bowers.
Gator, PB and Matt Friedman.
Article about the Dedication Ceremony in the Eagle Newspaper: http://www.candgnews.com/news/biff-radio-celebrating-40-years-dedication-ceremony-91514
The Biff, the longtime radio station run out of Bloomfield Hills High School, is celebrating 40 years on the air this year and wants to do so with the Bloomfield community.
The station, which operates on WBFH 88.1 FM, held a dedication ceremony open to the public for its studios that were built at the new high school, 4200 Andover Road, at 2 p.m. on Saturday, April 16. Link to article HERE.
The Bloomfield Hills School District’s radio station WBFH, also known as The Biff, began broadcasting its 40th Annual Biffstock pledge drive at 8 a.m. March 18th and continued with live programming until midnight. Biff radio students were collecting money and pledges from listeners in the community to help underwrite radio station enhancement expenses.
“Biffstock is a fun event for the radio students and it gives listeners a chance to support community radio with their donations” said Biffstock 2016 Chair Andrew Brown. All 18 Biff students from Bloomfield Hills High School were scheduled for a one-hour shift during the total of 16 hours of live programming that day. Pledge drive information and a link for online donations can be found HERE. Listeners can also follow the station on Twitter (@TheBiff881), on Facebook (WBFH 88.1, The Biff) and on the free Biff Radio app (search Biff Radio).
Something new this year was a live performance of one of the radio station’s shows entitled Motor City Static which airs Sunday nights from 9-midnight with hosts Ron Wittebols, Chuck Riffenburg, Jeff Hazard and Ruth Skowron. The live show aired in the auditorium March 18th at 7 p.m. and the admission was free. Performing were local rock bands Those Hounds and Eyes on Damascus as well as nationally-known comedian Mark Sweetman. Headlining the concert was vocalist and BHHS student Sofi K who released her debut album, LoveHate, last November (http://sofikofficial.com/). Biff students were featured during the show in skits, parodies and trivia contests…more details HERE.
Those who donate receive donor announcements aired on the station and their names are listed on the station website. Listeners who would like to be an underwriter can do so by calling (248) 341-WBFH or clicking on the Donate Now link on the station’s website. A video featuring Pete Bowers is HERE.
The Biff can be heard at 88.1 and 89.5 on the FM dial, online at wbfh.fm and on the free Biff Radio app. The community radio station is supervised by the WBFH management team of General Manager Pete Bowers and Assistant Manager/Technical Director Ron Wittebols.
WBFH has been honored recently with both national and state recognition. The Biff won 1st Place, Best High School Radio Station in a national competition entitled The John Drury High School Radio Awards last November. Biff students won 21 awards in a national high school radio competition March 5th in New York City. In the state, WBFH was named the 2015 Michigan High School Station of the Year by the Michigan Association of Broadcasters Foundation last year.
The hosts of the popular radio show Motor City Static brought their talents to the auditorium stage of Bloomfield Hills High School for a live performance in a fundraiser to benefit The Biff and community radio. Motor City Static airs every Sunday night from 9-midnight on the Biff Radio Network with hosts Ron Wittebols, Chuck Riffenburg, Jeff Hazard and Ruth Skowron. This special edition show at BHHS featured the typical witty banter of the hosts, the bands Those Hounds and Eyes on Damascus, comedian Mark Sweetman, Vocalist/BHHS Student Sofi K and segments starring WBFH radio students: “Headlines with Jason Silverstone and Foster Stubbs,” “Pete Bowers’ Procrastination Club,” “North Korea News,” “Celebrity Gossip,” and “Rapper Name or Twitter Name?” with Jim Ochs as the Master of Ceremonies. Be a Biff Benefactor by supporting community radio with a donation to the award-winning Biff radio program. Details about the Biffstock Concert are HERE. Details on how you can support The Biff and community radio are HERE.
Motor City Static hosts: Ron Wittebols (second from left), Jeff Hazard (on one knee), Chuck Riffenburg (4th from left). Website for MCS: http://motorcitystatic.com
Biff radio students and faculty won a total of 21 national high school radio awards at the 76th Annual International Radio and Webcasting Conference sponsored by the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System (IBS) held in the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City March 4-6, 2016. WBFH was named a Finalist in the Best High School Radio Station category, putting the Biff as one of the top four high school stations in this national competition.
General Manager Pete Bowers and five Biff students attended the conference: Andrew Brown, Greg Margosian, Harrison Parker, Foster Stubbs and Evan Sacksner. Lisa Brown was a chaperone for the trip.
The Biff won four 1st Place Awards and 17 Finalist Awards:
1st Place, Best Public Affairs Event/Promotion: Harrison Parker and Jaron Kirshenbaum
1st Place, Best Sports Play-By-Play: Foster Stubbs and Dylan Wittenberg
1st Place, Best Sports Talk Program: Foster Stubbs and Dylan Wittenberg
1st Place, Best Use of Social Media: Foster Stubbs
Finalist, Best Public Affairs Program: Evan Sacksner
Finalist, Best Public Service Announcement: Harrison Parker
Finalist, Best Sports Update: Foster Stubbs
Finalist, Best Station Promo: Greg Margosian and Andrew Brown
Finalist, Best Show Promo: Andrew Brown and Greg Margosian
Finalist, Best Show Promo: Evan Sacksner and Jason Silverstone
Finalist, Best Event Promo: Evan Sacksner, Jason Silverstone and Mitchell Salhaney
Finalist, Best Event Promo: Evan Sacksner, Greg Margosian, Andrew Brown and Foster Stubbs
Finalist, Best Liner/Sweeper: Harrison Parker
Finalist, Best ID: Harrison Parker
Finalist, Best On-Air Personality: Andrew Brown and Harrison Parker
Finalist, Most Innovative Program: Evan Sacksner
Finalist, Best Fundraising/Underwriting Campaign: Harrison Parker
Finalist, Best Website: Greg Margosian (Webmaster)
Finalist, Best High School Radio Station: WBFH, The Biff
Finalist, Best Student Manager: Andrew Brown
Finalist, Best Faculty Adviser: Pete Bowers
Stubbs, Parker and Sacksner each won five awards; Brown won four awards; Margosian won three awards; Wittenberg and Silverstone each won two awards. This was the first year Biff students entered this national competition.
Bowers and the Biff students were active participants in two sessions: High School Radio Roundtable/Programming Your High School Radio Station and High School Radio Day: The 411. Bowers was the moderator for the second session because he is the founder of High School Radio Day.
On Saturday night, the Biff group was lucky enough to get a tour of the four Cumulus radio stations in New York City: WNSH 94.7 (NASH FM), WABC 770 AM, WPLJ, 95.5 and WNBM, 103.9. The tour was given by former Avondale High School/WAHS 89.5 Alum Jesse Addy who is the afternoon air personality on NASH FM with up to a million listeners a day. On the tour, Biffers met WPLJ Weekend Air Personality Hannah Byrom and 77WABC Air Personality/Guardian Angel Founder Curtis Sliwa.
The Biff was featured in K-12 Tech Decisions, where tech leaders and K-12 educators go to explore the latest trends in technology integration: Link
How to Get on The Biff (Radio Station)
- Sign up for the prerequisite class, Exploring Electronic Media, which is offered ONLY the first semester of the school year. More information about the EEM class can be found at : http://wbfh.fm/exploring-electronic-media/.
- After taking EEM, you can apply to be on the WBFH Staff.
- Biff Staff is selected based upon a seven point criteria and performance in the prerequisite class. WBFH Staff class link: http://wbfh.fm/wbfh-staff-course/.
- Start your communications career in high school as many have by taking these media courses and working on one of only 10 high school radio stations in the state!
- For questions, contact WBFH General Manager Pete Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org.