Monroe High School senior Hannah Gottschalk knew that she wanted to focus her culminating challenge project on being a live, on-air radio DJ, but finding a radio DJ to be her mentor wasn’t turning out to be easy.
And then she got in touch with Jolene, from the popular Seattle rock station KISW, who did not hesitate to get involved.*
The culminating challenge, a Monroe High School graduation requirement, is made up of several different components including a project, portfolio, a research paper and a final presentation that is given in front of a high-stakes panel.
Students are required to find a mentor in their chosen field who can provide project guidance as well as the opportunity to job-shadow.
Gottschalk’s love of music is what led her to seek a career opportunity which would allow her to expand her musical repertoire, without actually being a musician herself.
“It’s really cool to be a DJ,” said Gottschalk. “They get to be surrounded by music all day long and they get to entertain people.”
Gottschalk had tried numerous local radio stations seeking a mentor but didn’t have any success until Jolene heard about the project and agreed to help. Jolene, notorious for her bright red hair, velvety vocals and her tireless support of the local Seattle music scene, has been with KISW for 10 years. She is currently KISW’s Music Director, nighttime host during the week from 6 to 10 p.m., and has been the host of the weekly Loud and Local show since 2006.
Loud and Local spotlights Seattle-area bands like Witchburn, The Mothership, The Crying Spell, Riot in Rhythm and many others.
Also popular is her nightly “Dude, it’s the 80s at 8” segment which features classic 1980s hair metal.
A self-described rocker at heart, Jolene has been in radio since she was in high school. She started her first rock-radio job at a KATS in Yakima the day after she graduated.
“Cathy Faulkner has long been the woman I admired in rock radio,” said Jolene. “She was an absolute trailblazer and champion of our amazing local music scene.”
Faulkner was with KISW from 1982 to 2002.
Gottschalk’s visit to KISW reinforced her desire to become an on-air radio personality. She appreciated the camaraderie of the KISW team and really enjoyed the opportunity to work with Jolene.
“That’s not something you get to do every day,” said Gottschalk. “She was really cool and super nice. I got to experience what it’s actually like behind the scenes.”
It also gave her a realistic view of what the job is like.
“I watched how stressful it can be,” said Gottschalk. “There’s a lot of stuff you have to worry about.”
For the project aspect of the assignment, Hannah created her own rock show called “Hannah at Night” at a theoretical radio station called 103.5 KICK radio. This was where Jolene’s guidance was invaluable. Not only was Gottschalk able to record the actual dialogue that would occur in between the songs with Jolene’s assistance, but she also learned how to create a playlist.
“There’s a technique to it,” said Gottschalk. “You have to spread it out a certain way and put the songs in a specific order.”
Gottschalk created a 10-song playlist which included music from Ozzy Osborne, Bon Jovi, Queen, Van Halen, Journey and several others. Jolene was able to help her generate the dialogue and guide her with what to say in between the songs.
“She told me information about the songs,” said Gottschalk. “She knew all these fun facts.”
Gottschalk learned the importance of being animated and enthusiastic while on the air, how to utilize social media as a tool to interact with listeners, how to take requests, and also got tips on how to deal with the sound of her own voice; something with which she is not even remotely comfortable.
“I can’t stand to hear myself,” said Gottschalk. “Jolene said, ‘It took me like 10 years to get used to my voice, so don’t worry.’”
Once the dialogue portion of her radio show was complete, Gottschalk needed someone to help her merge the songs from her playlist in with her vocal tracts to create one single audio file. For this she sought the assistance of Seattle musician Dan Teisan, who is the lead guitarist for the band Late September Dogs.
Teisan, who has been a musician for 21 years, is also an experienced sound-engineer. Teisan recorded and produced his last album, “Pretty Broken,” and is currently working on a new acoustic project. He co-wrote “Pretty Broken” with his sister, Elizabeth Teisan, who is the lead singer of the band.
Teisan volunteered to provide Gottschalk with the necessary engineering support to complete her radio show at his home recording studio in Bothell.
Gottschalk plans on playing a portion of her show during her culminating challenge presentation, which will take place on August 7. She will also give a PowerPoint presentation, show her portfolio and outline her research in front of the panel. If she passes, she will have officially completed her culminating challenge.
Seventeen-year-old Gottschalk chose to complete her project over the summer months so that she could spend the school year focused on applying for college scholarships and taking her SAT exams.
She also wanted to be able to enjoy her senior year. Gottschalk, who has lived in Monroe for four years, has largely focused on fulfilling graduation requirements during her high school career thus far. She is looking forward to taking some elective courses and has signed up for drama, cooking and third year French.
“I eventually want to go to Paris so I’ve got to learn the language,” said Gottschalk.
Gottschalk plays tennis, and enjoys spending time with her friend, Alyssa Rogers, who visited KISW with her and served as her culminating challenge photographer. Gottschalk and Rogers plan on taking the Bearcat broadcasting class together and become a part of the Bearcat News broadcasting team.
“I’m really excited for that one,” said Gottschalk.
After high school, Gottschalk hopes to be able to attend college at either Central Washington University, Washington State University or Western Washington University.
For more information on Monroe High School’s culminating challenge project, visit the school’s website at: http://www.monroe.wednet.edu/.
*Editor’s note: This came about as the result of writer Chris Hendrickson reaching out to Jolene on Hannah’s behalf, and Dan Teisan, who donated the use of his studio, is Chris’ boyfriend; while we admire Chris for her modesty, we aren’t actually going to let her get away with it.