WPAA: Handing Over the Microphone

It’s that time of year again – the board of WPAA is switching over. This Spring Term, the gentle breezes are starting to blow a little harder in another direction. “This last year has been a whirlwind of progress for WPAA,” said WPAA General Manager XLI Henry Frankievich ’07. The new board has no fewer ambitions. According to Alexander Heffner ’08, WPAA General Manager XLII, the new board plans on “converting the entire WPAA mindset to one that makes strides.” The XLI board, which consisted of Station Manager Charles Francis ’07, Tech Director Steven Farquhar ’07 and General Manager Henry Frankievich ’07, devoted its tenure to increasing the number of WPAA’s listeners. “The greatest challenge for us has been increasing the accessibility of the content,” explained Francis. Interest in WPAA grew exponentially after the unveiling of the station’s new website,, about six months ago. “Since then, users have loaded over 55,000 pages,” stated Frankievich. “5,143 video and audio clips have been viewed, average listenership has more than doubled and interest in hosting radio shows has skyrocketed.” Other efforts included consolidating shows into genre blocks, adding new technology to the studio and hosting special events such as Andover Idol, the Election Night Coverage and the Head of School Day broadcast. “Andover Idol was my favorite event. Period. We put so much planning and organization into the production, and it was very gratifying to see our efforts pay off,” said Farquhar. The George Washington Hall TV project, which begins later this spring, will be yet another method of promotion for WPAA. “Students at PA want to reach the world. And what’s exciting is that the world wants to hear us, too,” said Frankievich. The ex-General Manager’s greatest hope for the future is that the administration will allow WPAA to permanently broadcast its stream over the internet. The XLI Board has been dedicated beyond belief. The new board plans to maintain or even surpass this level of commitment. Enter General Manager Alexander Heffner ’08, Programming Director Philip Meyer ’08, Operations Manager Gloria Odusote ’09, Event Coordinator Teddy Curran ’08 and Director of Public Relations Maxwell Meyer ’08. “We intentionally narrowed down the number of positions to five,” explained Frankievich. “Past WPAA boards have been enormous, and thus difficult to manage. Now we have only a few very dedicated managers to run the station.” Heffner is very excited about launching the new board’s plans for the station. “WPAA has limitless potential for growth. We plan on converting the station’s somewhat casual mentality to a more professional attitude.” The XLII Board’s most exciting new plan is to test out a correspondence system modeled after National Public Radio. “Students are more inclined to listen when their colleagues are acting like professionals, talking about things that really matter to the student body,” explained Heffner. Some of the details still need to be fine-tuned, but the plan is to have an NPR-style broadcast starting out at one or two times a week after being launched in fall 2007. Nothing like this has ever been done at Phillips Academy, and it is going to require something of a transition period. There will be at least one testing of the system before the end of the current term. “People of our generation like to be well informed,” said Heffner. “But the station isn’t going to take a dense approach. In addition to the news, we’ll broadcast student/faculty commentaries and reactions to events.” Another plan is to broadcast more live events. For instance, if Mrs. Chase were to make an unexpected speech, WPAA would like to have people be able to hear it live through the station. However, the current array of programs hosted by WPAA will not be completely abolished. Certain music shows and other regular programs that complement the news will stay on the air. The station also remains committed to promoting special events, such as coffeehouses, Battle of the Bands, Grasshopper Night and Andover Idol. The spring line-up of programs has been released. Monday nights feature Whupah! with Henry and Steve, a show all about WPAA station news, rumors and plans. Wednesdays include the show Wally and Shoe, an hour of Broadway showtunes that listeners are encouraged to “sing along to!” And of course, The Political Arena continues on Thursdays, a talk radio news program hosted by Heffner himself. “WPAA is an amazing medium with which to update and inform listeners,” said Heffner. “What we’re doing is revolutionary. We’re redefining the mission of WPAA [to emphasize this strength].” Although the new WPAA board plans to implement a slightly different policy than the past boards, Phillips Academy’s own radio station will attempt to continue to improve its listenership and program schedule.