Published April 17, 2022

Upside Down Under: On the air to stay…

Written by
Marvin Baker
| The Dakotan
In the opinion of Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker
In the opinion of Marvin Baker
Marvin Baker

If you haven’t heard about this yet, there is something unique going on at Linton High School and my friend Jay Schmaltz is largely responsible for it.

Jay and I go back a lot of years when I was deep into newspapers and he was deep into radio. And Jay being from Nekoma, I’d see him in Langdon occasionally when I was operating the newspaper there. At one point I convinced him to come on board at the Cavalier County Republican where he became a sports writer.

I think, however, Jay got his claim to fame while on the air at KZZJ in Rugby, that is until now.

It’s probably been four, or even five years, but Jay started a broadcasting curriculum at Linton High School and it has really taken off. He started out with four students. Those four became 16 and now he’s gone to radio 201, if you will; upper level broadcasting course work.

Pitching his idea to the school board was that critical moment that may or may not have allowed this to happen. The school board blessed the idea and Jay was under way, as he got the shop students to build him a clandestine studio. It has since been redone and is now more like something you’d expect from a radio station studio.

Somewhere between the first and second semester of this program, Jay and his students managed to put a radio station on the air called KLHS, broadcasting on 1620-AM a lot of low-power AM radio station, and it only reaches the immediate Linton area, but this is a high school program with a limited budget.

It’s the first of its kind in the state. And when you think about some of the big and modern Class A schools like Bismarck Legacy, Fargo Davies, Grand Forks Red River, and West Fargo Sheyenne, this is Linton doing something that no other school in North Dakota has ever done before.

It gets better. The demand was so great for this program after it got started that Jay lobbied the FCC for a license to broadcast on FM and got it. KLPS is broadcasting locally on 100.1 FM. This is where you will hear Linton High School students doing sports play by play. When sports aren’t going on, it’s a country station, while KLHS has a classic hits format and is now on 104.1 on the FM dial.

Shortly after Linton High School Radio Broadcasting got the KLHS license to broadcast on 1620, I wrote an article, similar to this one, in The Kenmare News to pitch the idea to the Kenmare School Board, because at the time, the board was looking for new curriculum ideas. It didn’t happen, but Jay told me he was willing to have a chat with the Kenmare School Board should the interest increase.

Linton High School Radio Broadcasting also has a snazzy website, (https://www.klhslintonhigh.com/) so if you aren’t in Linton and can’t get the radio station with a terrestrial antenna, you can tune in online and stream the music or sports. It’s quite an accomplishment for any radio station really, and this is a high school team making it happen.

They’ve been so successful, they’ve won numerous broadcasting awards. Linton High School Radio Broadcasting is something very few people thought could be accomplished five years ago and now they are winning awards one right after another. I think I stopped counting at 60. It’s apparent this group works hard in the classroom and on air, and they deserve all the accolades.

There are other high school radio stations in the United States, but none are close to Linton or close to what Linton is doing. If my memory is right, the next nearest high school radio stations are in Illinois and Utah.

I have to admit that Jay has come a long way since the days when we would take a break from work and have donuts and coffee at the Bread Pan Bakery in Langdon and talk about pie-in-the-sky ideas we both had.

But it’s not just Jay. It’s his students who continue to be motivated to do this or it wouldn’t be successful. It’s also the Linton School Board that put up the money to get this clever idea up and running.

There is no doubt, however, that Jay Schmaltz is the catalyst. If there is anybody out there who could do something like this, it’s Jay and he’s done it well.

This is quite a shift to an extracurricular activity for high school students. And with such an emphasis on high school sports in general, this group of kids in Linton instead took an ingenious approach to sports and is broadcasting Lions games.

Congratulations Jay and your students! You’ve done well. You’re pioneers in high school broadcasting.

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