Vail-area teens rule the air waves |

Vail-area teens rule the air waves

MINTURN – Hitchhiking out of Minturn last spring, Red Canyon High School student Gabe Aceves, 19, caught a ride with an obliging woman. The two got to chatting on the ride out of town, and Aceves discovered his driver, Liz Campbell, did some work for Radio Free Minturn – the valley’s newest public radio station.The wheels started turning in Aceves’ head, and he went to his technology teacher Dave Manzella with an idea for a class on radio. Manzella, who has a bit of on-air experience, made some calls, talked to a few people and the Red Canyon Project was born at Radio Free Minturn. And now, every Friday, about half a dozen Red Canyon students take turns playing their favorite tunes for the people of the Vail Valley.Huddled in the tiny Radio Free studio last Friday, Alicia Baldwin, 17, and Karlee Solawetz, 16, bent over their microphones. “It’s Friday the 13th, so make sure you don’t walk under any ladders or cross the paths of any black cats,” Solawetz told her listeners.Solawetz said she took the class to spend more time with Baldwin. The two have been friends since elementary school and plan to take up bartending and open a club in Las Vegas after they graduate. For the girls, playing music on the radio is a natural progression from what they do in their free time. “We chill and listen to music when we hang out anyway, so this is still kind of like doing that,” Solawetz said. Baldwin was lured to the class in hopes of continuing a DJ-ing legacy that began a generation ago. “My dad did radio, and he talks about how fun it was,” Baldwin said. “Music’s, like, my life. I always have to hear the new music or see the new video. Also, you don’t hear much of our kind of music.”She’s talking about the lack of “cool” music on the valley’s radio waves – rap, rock, hip-hop. But last week, Baldwin and Solawetz took a step back and played the cool doo-wop tunes of yesteryear. They brightly announced songs like “16 Candles” and “Wild Thing,” muddling their way though pronouncing the names of the past pop stars. The kids shared a love of music coming into the class, but quickly found out there’s more to being a DJ. For one thing, there are certain words that can’t be aired, so the kids are responsible for censoring their tunes. They also have to create play lists, read public service announcements and event listings and make sure there’s no dead air all while navigating the sea of buttons and dials. “Sometimes I forget which button to push,” said Ana Sandoval, 17. “But I like the chance to learn something new. Now, I listen to the radio and know what they’re talking about.”Sandoval, whose family lives in Gypsum and can’t pick up Radio Free Minturn, enrolled in the radio class because she had to take an elective, but said it’s turned out to be fun. In addition to hip-hop, Sandoval mixes a Latin flavor into her set by playing reggaeton – a blend of Latin dance music, reggae and rap music. Radio Free Minturn Program Director Leo Spaziani admitted he may have hovered over the kids a bit during the first week of the Red Canyon Project. “But it’s stressful when someone’s watching you, so I backed off,” he said. “I got into radio in high school,” Spaziani added. “Some people gave me the opportunity to do it, and nobody’s going to give high school kids the opportunity to do that at a commercial station, so we’re doing it here.”

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