The power of radio has infinite possibilities for the students of the Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired in Worcester. To empower learners, the school has started an internet radio station that broadcasts every Wednesday from 19:00.
Music teacher, Quinten Pendle, is the heart behind the initiative. He knows all too well the struggles of finding employment as a person living with visual impairment. “As a blind person, I have had to compete with other ‘normal’ or ‘sighted’ people to get a job, and to provide for my family,” says Pendle.
The Pioneer School for the Visually Impaired is one of 22 schools for the blind in Mzansi.
Meet the heart of the station
The learners started off with preparation and training at the beginning of 2021.
Their very first broadcast took place on Thursday, 9 September 2021 at 19:00. Up until now, the school made use of some of Pendle’s spare equipment – which includes a computer, mixing desk and microphones – to stay on air.
He believes that a gentle introduction to a broadcasting environment was necessary, and that it required a child to have reached some level of maturity. “Our broadcasters are keen interviewers, and not only do they bring the most amazing stories, but they also have great ideas, some of which we have already incorporated into our schedule,” Pendle says.
At present, nine learners are part of the Radio Academy.
A radio station with purpose
Pendle garnered six years of experience at Perron FM, a community radio station based in Malmesbury.
“Since radio has always played a vital role in the lives of blind people, I figured that this might be an extra field in which they could excel. It hopefully opens up more job opportunities for them later in their lives.”
The school’s principal, Michael Bredenkamp, says that the new addition is aimed at educating and empowering blind and visually impaired students to become broadcasters. “The learners share stories and news, do interviews, and report on all activities in and around the school.”
Learners are trained in proper microphone etiquette, operating a studio, producing, sound engineering, compiling and presenting specialised programmes, and scriptwriting.
The radio station broadcasts live from the school on Wednesday nights from 19:00 to 20:00.