Heather Laderer is an unabashed pan-head.
She made this dubious admission – a reference to a moniker used by fans of the band Skillet – during a recent live session recording of her WhidbeyAIR radio show.
A poet, an aspiring actress as well as a weekly streaming-only radio show host on WKPA based in Coupeville, Laderer’s radio presence on her internet-themed show Net Quarters is both fluid and creative.
“Hello my lovelies, it’s time to kick off your Sunday shoes, plug into your headphones, use the secret knock because you are entering the Net Quarters,” Laderer said into the microphone.
A junior at Coupeville High School, Laderer is one of a handful of Whidbey teens who volunteer their time on the radio in exchange for the experience of working on a real streaming radio station. Teens from both South Whidbey and Coupeville school districts have been able to get school credit for their efforts.
Laderer describes herself as a naturally shy person but likes the opportunity to share her geeky side with listeners. Her show is “a cool place for nerds to come and revel in cool stuff,” Laderer said. This usually includes fan art, anime, music and interesting online reads. “What’s hot and what’s not, on the net.”
Signing off at the end of her show, Laderer leaves her listeners with a unique message: “Stay weird, stay original and remember to carry on my wayward keyboard cats.”
“This is a community resource,” said Gwen Samuelson, a WhidbeyAIR board member who helps engineer some of the shows. “We get a pretty amazing sound out of this little room.”
In addition to volunteer-run radio programs, WhidbeyAIR offers recording services for musicians, writers, educators and families to capture a broad range of audio tracks. A non-profit organization, WhidbeyAIR has survived over the last 15 years due to generous donations and partnerships with the groups like the Saratoga Orchestra and the Whidbey Island Center for the Arts.
WhidbeyAIR hasn’t had a FCC licence to be actually on air since 2011 but Samuelson – and much of the World Wide Web community – believes that streaming-only format is really the wave of the future for radio. To keep the legacy going, the small station is still in need of more volunteer DJs, engineers, producers and more community support if it’s going to survive.
“It’s taking some time,” Samuelson said. “But we’re still here.”
Another teen show, Positive Vibrations, is the brain child of Coupeville juniors Desirae Bradley and Alexxis Oho. It’s a show focused on sharing a positive message – a recent topic was “bravery songs.”
“Anything that could inspire,” Bradley said.
Engineered by Oho, an aspiring musician, and voiced by Bradley, who’s “really into singing and acting,” the show is a vehicle for the two to explore their creative sides.
“It’s definitely something I could do as a career,” Bradley said.
“Today, WhidbeyAIR is heard by people everywhere, from Clinton to Deception Pass and all around the world,” according to its website. ” All you need is a computer, a smart phone, a tablet, a TV with Internet access, an Internet radio receiver, or – coming very soon – a car equipped with Internet radio capability.”