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Taking to the (air)waves: Rifle High School senior starts new radio show

Rifle High School senior Bailey Braun begins her show— Bailey On Air — Tuesday night in Battlement Mesa.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

KSUN 101.1 FM Radio Station Manager Ryan Ellis barged into his own booth Tuesday evening, stared down Rifle High School senior Bailey Braun with a mischievous smile and delivered her some rather delightful news.

“You’re doing an outstanding job,” he said. “I’m giving you a second slot.”

Bailey, 17, sat at a sturdy table topped with four silver microphones fit for Walter Cronkite. Sitting opposite of her was Rifle High School Math Teacher Robert Weiher. Toward one of the walls, radio station worker and jazz show host Sean Sorensen, 21, tinkered with computer screens below a red light that said “on air.”



Braun has recently been hosting her own radio segment — Bailey On Air. In this show, she interviews teachers and coaches as a way to bridge the communication gap between students and staff.

Braun’s introduction to the radio booth started in summer, when she did a public service announcement.



Rifle High School teacher Robert Weiher answers a question during a radio show Tuesday night in Battlement Mesa.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Later on, to complete a Creativity, Activity, Service project in Rifle High School history teacher Nate Miller’s class, the local senior came up with the concept of doing a radio show. Miller marked Braun’s first interview.

“When I first interviewed Mr. Miller, I didn’t really want to start because it was just really scary, and I thought it was gonna be really awkward,” she said. “But then it turned out really good and easy, because we just had to have a conversation and pretend like the mics weren’t there.”

Miller described the first interview using the word “struggle.”

“She struggled calling me by my first name,” Miller joked.

Braun has always had an infatuation with becoming a broadcaster. With dreams of becoming an Ultimate Fighting Championship announcer, Braun said she already has plans in place to do so.

The plan starts with attending Southeastern Community College in Iowa on a soccer scholarship.

“I’d start off at college and then do radio internships more and more,” she said. “Then I found some internships throughout the summers, soccer broadcasting and hockey broadcasting. So I can start off with something else and work my way up.”

Miller said this has grown to become one of the most unique CAS projects he’s seen, and it’s right in the spirit of what CAS projects are supposed to be.

“It’s something she’s interested in, and she was proactive about it,” he said. “That may be the biggest thing. A lot of times, I have to make suggestions about what (students) might do, and Bailey was just kind of exploring this on her own.”

BAILEY ON AIR

Inside a cozy radio booth operated out of a small, first floor room inside the Grand Valley Recreation Center, Braun twirled a pen in her right hand as Weiher waited for the first question.

Every time she’s in the booth, the interview is conducted, Sorensen then edits out the “ums” and the dead space then the show airs on KSUN 101.1 FM from 12:30-1 p.m. Saturdays.

The "on air" light illuminates during a radio show Tuesday night in Battlement Mesa.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

So far, Braun has interviewed Miller, Rifle High School English Teacher and girls soccer coach Jeremy Harrison. On Tuesday, it was Weiher’s turn.

Braun is already gaining a level of comfort behind a microphone.

“They’re telling me you have to sound like you’re smiling,” she said. “Because there’s a difference in how you talk when you’re not smiling and how you’re talking when you’re smiling.”

Just before the “on air” light went red, Mary Lee Mohrlang, a radio station volunteer, walked in. She’s noticeably excited about Braun’s presence.

“It’s an incredible experience,” Mohrlang said. “I think Bailey is not a person you run across very often. It’s just her outstanding ability and maturity, and she’s driven. She knows what she wants to do.”

Braun said her aim with the show is to ensure it relates to the community.

KSUN 101.1 FM worker and radio show host Sean Sorensen works the booth Tuesday night in Battlement Mesa.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Following conversations with staff and peers, Braun realized students are sometimes scared of approaching their instructors because they don’t understand why they’re “so pushy” sometimes, she said.

“In my last interview, with Mr. Harrison, he was saying that it’s because teachers want what’s best for you,” Braun said. “I feel like students don’t know that unless you actually talk to them more.”

Throughout the conversation, Braun read almost immaculately from a paper script resting in front of her. She’d ask Weiher questions about his background, thoughts on teaching kids and any advice he had for instructors and students.

“You have to have a little fun with it,” Braun said of the art of the interview. “You can stray a little bit from the topic, too, because then it’s more personal.”

Braun’s time behind this booth isn’t ending anytime soon. The internship should last nine months, she said.

Now, with Ellis giving his upstart DJ an extra slot, Braun gets two radio shows per month.

“It went from a school project into more of a radio community type thing, which is kind of cool,” she said. “It’ll go until about July, because then I leave in August for college. So, hopefully, we can find another student to carry it on.”

KSUN 101.1 FM Radio Station Manager Ryan Ellis informs Rifle High School senior Bailey Braun that she's getting an extra time slot for her show, Bailey On Air.
Ray K. Erku / Post Independent

Reporter Ray K. Erku can be reached at 612-423-5273 or rerku@citizentelegram.com.


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