The 2024 Embedded Online Conference

A part of history

Gene BrenimanDecember 23, 2009

This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending the 40-year anniversary celebration of the formation of my high school's radio station (KVHS).  The current students and staff of KVHS hosted a birthday party for the radio station and invited former alumni and teachers and the public to share in the celebration.  On hand was a pretty good showing of the current and former students and teachers that helped build one of the most successful student-run radio station programs in the world.

What started with a tiny 100-milliwatt AM transmitter, broadcasting exclusively to the students of Clayton Valley High School, grew and grew into a 5200 Watt effected radiated power (ERP) FM station reaching a much wider audience (the current station operates at 410 Watts ERP, but reaches an even wider range due to its transmitter elevation of 500 feet).  Most of this amazing growth is a testament to an amazing engineer, educator and mentor, Ernie Wilson, who was able to guide the education, dreams and futures of a large number of students over a span of 11 years.

On recounting the history of KVHS in preparation for the celebration, Ernie Wilson recently wrote:

“KVHS was born and nourished by the hard work and dedication of both teachers and students alike. No job or project appeared too large or complicated. They forged ahead by begging and borrowing, short of stealing, to meet the challenges of a constantly growing radio station. What couldn’t be had by donation they built or modified with school and vocational education funds. One should never underestimate the power of a motivated high school student or pushing the rules and aspirations to the limit.”

I agree fully and can only add that Ernie Wilson motivated his students by demonstrating that he fully believed that we could do the amazing things that he asked of us.  He treated us more like adults, with real jobs, as opposed to students in need of constant supervision.  He trusted us to do what was needed, guided us when we lost direction or asked for help.  In most cases we came through for him.

It was great to see my former classmates and friends, but the evening was topped my seeing my friend and former teacher.  Ernie Wilson gave me more than three years of education.  He taught me to believe in myself and the things that I could do. He gave me the tools to succeed in life and business. I was more prepared for college and my pursuit of an electronics degree, than anyone else in my school.  I knew more about the concepts of building and testing electronics projects than some of my fellow students learned throughout the course of their higher education. I don't think that I could ever adequately express my thanks to him for all that he gave to me.

On a sad note, I was shocked to hear that the high school no longer has an electronics program.  Budget cuts in education in California (as well as other parts of the USA) are eliminating the early opportunities to spark the interests of students in technology.  Would I be the engineer that I am today without the opportunities that were presented to me?

Happy designing!


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