Most adults cringe at the memory of their high schools’ morning announcements, and their principal’s voice droning on and on over the intercom. Fortunately, Dulwich College Beijing (DCB) has dispensed with such boring proceedings. Instead, the Shunyi international school allows students to literally step up to the mic, and broadcast weekly announcements in the form of their very own news shows. From the confines of the campus’s fully equipped studio, students use professional microphones, mixers and editing software, learning valuable technical skills and coping with the pressure of going live on-air.
“Before DCB Radio, we’d just go to a weekly assembly, and hear about stuff that we felt like we already knew,” says Kartik, aged 18 and currently enrolled in Year 13 at DCB. “But when you hear about these things from one of your peers, over a live broadcast, then it’s much more engaging. Now more people are showing up to sports matches, music events, and other things because they were actually listening. It fosters a sense of community.”
DCB airs two such broadcasts weekly— one for the senior school and one for the junior school— on its “livestream” web page, which can be accessed by all of its students, teachers and parents. The club, dubbed DCB Radio, is now in its second year, and is comprised of 15 senior students and nine junior students. Some of those members work as on-air DJs and hosts. Other participants ready prerecorded podcast segments that are aired during the show, covering little known facts about the school’s faculty, fun English phrases, mini-history lessons and more.
The club was founded by Mr. Serkan Ari, junior school computer science coordinator at DCB. Since then he has been able to step back and watch with admiration, as his fledging young broadcasters coordinate the current live show on their own. While the students obviously learn valuable technical skills in DCB Radio, An says the club also provides subtler, broader benefits, explaining that it “enhances the students’ ability to communicate in writing, as they work on scripts and programs for broadcasting. And it also boosts their confidence in speaking over the airways, and their ability to communicate with the broadcasting team.”
Below, some of DCB’s finest young on-air personalities tell us more about their in-studio process.
Kartik, 18, Year 13
We have one podcast segment that I enjoy doing called “Did You Know?” where we interview teachers and ask them to share interesting facts about themselves. We also have segments in which we profile student leaders, which reveals how willing people are to actually step up to challenging positions. Seeing these people leading these diverse events and activities, at such a young age, is really inspiring.
The technical part is intense, especially when we’re live on-air. If you have anything that goes wrong at the last minute, then you have to fix it right away. I think what it’s taught me is you can’t make any excuses up. You’re on air, people are going to be waiting for you. You just get on with it.
Leo, 12, Year 7
Every week we have to plan the show, write a script, and do the programs. It’s quite a bit of responsibility— for example, if you miss something or get something wrong (in one of the prerecorded podcast segments), then you might not be able to get it aired.
Last year, we had a licence to play copyrighted songs. But this year we weren’t able to get that. So we’ve had to do a lot of research, and make sure the music we use is not copyrighted. It was good to learn about that, it feels like valuable information.
I like using the mics, the headphones, and the mixer. It’s useful to learn all that, and it’s also fun because you get to announce things to the whole school.
Laurie Bonner, music teacher and media coordinator
One of the most useful skills that students learn at DCB Radio is how to articulate— with no visual cues, just speaking. We’re an international school, so English is a second language for many of these students. That means articulating in English is very valuable to them.
Some of the kids, when they first started, were really quiet and shy and their voices were really flat. Now, they have a lot more inflection. It’s impressive. They’ve also made a lot of progress in learning how to interview people, which is an interesting skill that doesn’t come naturally to a lot of people. Some of the kids would just say “Do you like this, do you like that?” in the beginning. There was no give and take, no open ended questions. So DCB Radio helps their conversational confidence, and their ability to speak publicly and answer questions in class.
Owen, 10, Year 6
Our parents listen to our broadcasts all the time. They say they’re proud, and that it’s a good choice to do this. I’m learning a lot from it, which is useful in case I want to be a broadcaster when I’m older.
My podcast is called “English phrase of the week.” I’ll introduce an interesting English phrase that people will like to use, instead of simple boring phrases. “Finding a needle in a haystack” was one example. I already know many that I can use, and when I run out I find others online. So that helps my research skills.
Researching and doing this podcast on my own is more fun than learning by listening to a teacher. I really like computers, and figuring things out for myself.
Brian, 11, Year 6
The teacher doesn’t help us most of the time. We do it. So if we fail, it’s our fault. We have responsibility, and have to learn a lot of complicated things, like how to get the right audio levels, and technical things like that.
I like pushing all the buttons, and all that stuff, and I also enjoy talking into the microphone.
Daniel, 11, Year 6
I do a podcast about history with some other students. We use it to talk about fun historical facts from WWII, or some kind of specific event. But it’s limited— we can’t say one country was bad during a war, or take sides. So it gives us a balanced understanding. We research a lot and teach ourselves many things.
I enjoy speaking on the radio, so that everyone can hear me. It’s quite fun. But the best thing is that this is our broadcast, this is for us. If we fail, then it’s our failure, not the teacher’s. So it makes me feel more mature.
This is the second in a series of posts brought to you by Dulwich College Beijing. DCB is made up of over 1430 students from age one to 18, with over forty-five nationalities represented in its diverse student body. It is a British international school, offering an educational environment designed to nurture not only the intellectual and physical but also social and emotional development of students. The school takes pride in an excellent pastoral care programme, as well as superb IB results. DCB Radio is just one of many leadership opportunities offered to its students.
Photos: Uni You, DCB