Detroit Public Schools and Detroit Public Television have signed a new five-year agreement that includes having DPTV manage the district-owned WRCJ 90.9 FM radio station, resulting in greatly increased revenue for the district and a six-fold jump in the time that DPS-run and student-produced radio shows will be aired.
Under the contract, Detroit Public Schools will incur fewer costs for management of the classical/jazz station, which is operated out of Detroit School of Arts. DPTV has agreed to absorb all engineering costs, which were previously paid for by the district. DPS will see increased revenue and combined cost-savings amounting to about $1.5 million over the five-year term.
Robert Bobb, Emergency Financial Manager for Detroit Public Schools, praised the new agreement.
“This contract illustrates exactly what we are increasingly trying to do in DPS: find a perfect blend of cost-savings measures for the school system while enhancing teaching and learning for our students,” Bobb said.
About 150,000 people listen to WRCJ, a listener supported public radio station, each week for its daytime Classical and nighttime Jazz music.
The new contract ensures even greater participation from DPS students in the radio station, including adding a second student-run show. Students currently produce the ‘Detroit Public Schools Radio’ show, which airs at 7 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month, under the guidance of Radio/Television instructor Marsha Sakwa, with technical assistance from Donald Walker. DPTV will also add a one-hour weekly show that will be produced with DPS students and feature district staff.
“This agreement adds tremendous value to what is already a wonderful communications, teaching and learning resource,” said Steven Wasko, Chief Communications Officer for Detroit Public Schools. “It’s incredibly unique for a public school system to own a full 42,000-watt radio station, and we aim to preserve and enhance that resource for our students.”
Separately, DPS and DPTV have severed their agreement for management of the television studios at DSA. DPTV will provide pro bono consulting services to reinvigorate the TV studios.
The radio contract calls for DPTV to provide mentoring for DPS teachers, incorporate the radio curriculum into its program schedule and offer internships for senior students. Time on the station will be allotted for special student programs, such as dramatic and poetry readings, quarterly musical performances or annual and semi-annual concerts.
“The original vision of the radio and television curriculum was to provide students with pre-professional experiences,” said Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton, DSA principal and school founder. “The new agreement will provide greater access and additional opportunities for students. Our school community will be delighted.”
DPTV also will support the DSA radio curriculum by offering hands-on training opportunities for communication arts students, allowing them to work alongside professional technicians and broadcast staff on programs.
“We’re more committed than ever to expanding our collaborations with DPS and other educational and cultural partners,” said Rich Homberg, Detroit Public TV president and general manager. “With WRCJ, we have a strong voice for showcasing our region’s cultural events and talented young artists.”
Other opportunities for students include learning to operate state-of-the-art broadcast equipment; writing and delivering promotional and other announcements; editing and mixing audio material; and gaining an understanding of media programming and scheduling.
“Being inside the Detroit School of Arts, we see the excitement that comes with learning and performing,” said Dave Devereaux, WRCJ station manager. “That’s why we strive to encourage participation in the arts, especially by young people.”