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!)