Tag Archives: Geno Heiter

Now Streaming: 70 North

WWPT-FM was one of the first high school radio stations in the country.

Decades later, Staples again innovated — this time with an in-school TV show.

Now, our high school once again leads the pack.

Welcome to “70 North.”

With a soft launch last week, the site — named for the school’s physical address — became a clever, irreverent, YouTube-like destination for 1,900 students, scores of staff and faculty members, and anyone else in the world who wants to know what’s going on at that active, creative and very fertile campus.

It’s a work in progress. But what a work it is.

70 North marks the next step in the evolution of television. And whether that TV is based in a high school or broadcasts nationally doesn’t really matter, says media teacher Geno Heiter.

What counts is content. “70 North” has plenty of it. Sports, features, upcoming events, guidance and college news, humor, poetry, reviews, music department concerts, artwork — you name, it will find its way onto the site.

For over a decade, the school was served by “Good Morning Staples.” Devised by former instructors Jim Honeycutt and Mike Zito, and filmed, edited and hosted by students, the show aired 3 times a week, at 8:25 a.m. Every class watched — supposedly — an intriguing mélange of interviews, announcements, sports highlights and more.

It was fun, entertaining — and static.

The television landscape has changed a lot since “Good Morning Staples” marked a fresh way of providing information. Americans — particularly teenagers — no longer sit on a couch and watch a show at a predetermined time.

TV today is all about streaming. People watch on their terms, their schedule — and their devices.

70 North is television for the smartphone age.

A poster for one of the many episodes available from “70 North.”

Just as viewers no longer have to gather around a big screen, creators no longer lug around big (or even moderate-sized) cameras. Great video can be shot on phones everyone carries.

Thanks to TikTok, Snapchat and many other apps, students are used to telling visual stories. They have a different way of telling those stories too, than even people just a few years older.

“70 North” allows them to do just that. Yet it’s hard to describe, and still evolving.

Heiter says, “It’s a platform. It’s whatever they want it to be.”

Sam Gold — a crazily creative senior, and one of the driving forces behind 70 North — calls it “School updates that don’t suck.”

Max Dorsey, shooting a “70 North” show.

Heiter likens “70 North” to Netflix. “You choose what you want, from a lot of options. It’s not one video that’s forced on you.”

But it’s not the Wild West of the web. It’s still a schoolwide communication tool. It uses server space provided by the district. And it’s as educational as it is entertaining.

Geno Heiter (left) and Sam Gold, with “70 North” on the laptop.

Heiter says he’s still “teaching skills, teaching technical ability, teaching how to use sophisticated equipment, how to cover stories, how to engage and build an audience.”

But he’s doing it in a way that meets students — those who create 70 North, and those who watch it — exactly where they are.

Which, these days, is in front of a device. Not a TV screen. Accessible any time, anywhere, by anyone.

Once again, Staples High School is at the forefront.

Just as it will be in 2029, when a new, not-yet-invented form of communication supplants “70 North.”

(Click here for “70 North.” Then bookmark it!)

WWPT Rocks National Radio Awards

You don’t have to be a Staples student to love WWPT.

Plenty of folks in Fairfield County with no connection to the high school tune into the station — 90.3 FM — for news, sports, music, even dramatic readings.

It was one of the first high school radio stations in the country.

Now the John Drury High School Radio Awards confirm: It’s also the best.

For the 2nd year in a row.

Yesterday at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois, “Wrecker Radio” walked off with the top prize: Best High School Radio Station.

But that’s not all.

Individual staff members won for:

  • Best News Feature Story (November 11, 2018: Jack Gersh, Cameron Manna)
  • Best Sports Play-by-Play (Basketball final, Trumbull vs. Darien: Greg Settos, Jake Gersh)
  • Best Sportstalk Program (Open Season – 2.o “The Return”: Jake Thaw, Nick, Kornfeld
  • Best Sportscast (A Sports Update: Greg Settos)
  • Best PSA (Don’t Text and Drive: Ben Gross)

The entire station also won Best Radio Drama – Adaptation for “A Christmas Carol – Act 1 of 2.”

WWPT-FM members who attended yesterday’s national awards ceremony in Illinois (from left): Brad Cox, Greg Settos, Reilly Caldwell, Jake Gersh, Cameron Manna and adviser Geno Heiter. (Photo/Jack Caldwell)

Those were not the only nominees from Staples. Others included Greg Settos for Best Newscast; Brad Cox for Best News Feature Story; Reilly Caldwell and Settos for Best Promo; Seettos and Lefty Penderakis, Jack Borowsky and Mark Didio, and Jake Gersh and Cameron Manna, Best Sportstalk Program (3 separate nominations); Art Shapiro and Settos, and Brad Cox, Best Sports Play-by-Play (2 separate nominations); Ethan Frank, plus Cox, Zach Iannacone, Will Rosenthal, Tim Luciano for Best Public Affairs Program (2 separate nominations); Jake Gersh and Isabella Siskind (Best PSA, 2 separate nominations); Gersh, Siskind, Dylan Mace, Dan Chu, Oscar Hachter, Jack Noble, Ben Howard and Matt Hirschler (Best Radio Drama – Original).

Congratulations to all, and of course adviser Geno Heiter.

Now set your radio to 90.3 FM!

(Hat tip: Jack Caldwell)

Two Christmas Carols

Staples High School’s Candlelight Concert is the music department’s gift to the town.

It’s the gift that keeps on giving.

On Friday night, Steve Ruchefsky and Rondi Charleston threw their annual holiday party, at their beautiful Myrtle Avenue home.

Like many gatherings around Westport, it was a warm, wonderful way to catch up with friends of all ages.

But Steve and Rondi’s party was extra-special. Their daughter Emma — now a student at Berklee College of Music — joined with fellow former Orphenians for a few Christmas songs.

No offense to any other party with carol singers, but — well, take a listen:

 

Thanks to Emma Ruchefsky, Joe Badion, Bailey Claffey, Ian Goodman, Nick Massoud, Nick Ribolla and Sarah Quagliarello for reminding us all why music may be the greatest gift of all.

SPECIAL HOLIDAY BONUS: Last week, Staples’ Audio Production and Theater 3 classes combined to produce a live radio broadcast of “A Christmas Carol.”

It includes all the voices from Charles Dickens’ classic — plus music, clever sound effects, even old-time radio ads for products like Pepsodent.

If you missed it on WWPT-FM, just click here. Instructors Geno Heiter and David Roth, and dozens of students, offer a perfect soundtrack to your holiday.

And so — in the immortal words of Tiny Tim — “A Merry Christmas to us all!”

Radio And Robotics Raves

There are 12 categories in the John Drury High School Radio Awards.

Staples’ WWPT-FM was nominated in 7 of them — sometimes more than once.

Yesterday — at North Central College in Naperville, Illinois — they won 1st place in every category they were nominated for. The teenagers (and advisor Geno Heiter) snagged a total of 12 awards, in news, sports and public affairs.

Including the big one: Best High School Station in the Country.

The winners! WWPT-FM faculty advisor Geno Heiter is in shades and a beard, at right.

Congratulations to these Staples students — the next generation of radio stars:

1st Place
Best Newscast:
Cooper Boardman, Channing Smith (“WWPT News Update”)
Best Public Affairs Program: Jackson Valente, Jarod Ferguson (“A Better Chance ‘Social Justice’)
Best Radio Drama Adaptation: Staples Players and Audio Production classes, with support from WWPT (“Dracula”)
Best Sports Play-by-Play:  Cooper Boardman, Jack Caldwell (Football — Staples vs. Darien)
Best Sportscast: Buster Scher (“Knicks — Past 2 Seasons”)
Best Sportstalk Program:  Cooper Boardman and Jack Caldwell (Staples Field Hockey State Championship Show)
Best High School Station: WWPT-FM

2nd Place
Best Sports Play-by-Play:  Cooper Boardman (Basketball — Staples vs. Danbury)
Best Sportstalk Program:  Jack Caldwell (Interview with NHL announcer Chuck Kaiton)
Best Sportscast:  Luck McManus, Hunter Duffy (NASCAR championship interview)

3rd Place
Best Newscast: Zachary Halperin, Nieve Mahoney, Jack Moses (Politics — Election Reflection)
Best Sportscast:  George Goldstein, Sam Zaritsky (Fulmer Trade)

WWPT-FM faculty advisor Geno Heiter (left) and student broadcasters jump for joy after earning 12 John Drury Awards.

Also yesterday, Staples sophomores Nick Durkin, John McNab and Daniel Westphal, and freshman Nathan Wang won 5 awards — including 1st Place Overall — in the Marine Advanced Technology Education Center’s New England competition, in Sandwich, Massachusetts.

The quartet — competing as Team Curriodyssea, which is not affiliated with the high school — designed, built and programmed underwater remotely operated vehicles.

Team Curiodyssea members (from left) Daniel Westphal, Nathan Wang, John McNab and Nick Durkin.

Team Curriodyssea also won golds for Engineering Evaluation, Highest Score on the Underwater Challenges, Technical Report and Poster Display.

They advance to the international competition next month in Long Beach, California, where they’ll face 27 other teams from North America, Europe, Asia and Africa.

Sounds like a great story for WWPT!

It’s A Wonderful Life, Indeed!

Take out your earbuds. Move over, Spotify. You’re so old school, iTunes.

Staples students are embracing a cutting-edge new technology: radio.

But not just any radio: a 1940s-style radio drama.

WWPT_logoTomorrow (Thursday, December 22, 1 p..m.), Geno Heiter’s Audio Production class and David Roth’s Theater 3 Acting class collaborate on a radio broadcast of “It’s a Wonderful Life.”

They’ll use the original 1946 script — including Lux toilet soap advertisements from that long-ago time.

Similar WWPT-FM productions have won top awards in the John Drury national high school radio competition. Check it out:

It’s a phenomenal event — and a great undertaking. High school students incorporate live drama skills, sound effects and radio production into an entertaining, uplifting performance.

You can hear it locally on 90.3 FM, or by clicking here for the livestream.

It is indeed a wonderful life!

PS: The 2016 Candlelight Concert is also available on WWPT-FM (and via livestream). It’s broadcast at random times — so keep listening!