Every morning during the school week, a group of seven students gather in a teacher’s office that doubles as a small studio and several anchors rotate for five to give students the morning announcements via broadcast, appropriately called the Raider News Network (RNN). The students include Powell, Adlish, Amanda Fabbi, Mariah Fisher, Kyle Kuzinski, Maddie Poore and Breanna Tom.
At 9:20 every day, two students, dressed up in shirt and tie, take their place and sit behind a desk with the RNN logo. One student stands at the camera, the anchors have their notes in front of them and all becomes quiet in a moment’s notice. The broadcast begins like a professional one would – that is, until the comment about the imminent fake tans. Otherwise, a slew of announcements about prom, success in Reed’s track team qualifiers, upcoming club elections and other topics of interest to the students become more entertaining than if they were only words on a piece of paper.
The announcements are compiled by teacher Kyle Cassinelli, but the jokes are all student-produced, even if they’re about their own fellow students.
“I’m upset (the track team) broke records, but didn’t offer to fix them,” Powell said.
On Friday, they touched on Kentucky Fried Chicken’s new Double Down sandwich and its large sodium content. They drew a simple graphic by hand that showed the heart rate of a person on a normal diet and the elevated rate of someone consuming just one Double Down, teasing that it’s healthier to eat a McDonald’s Big Mac.
“We’re trying to do things that all students would appreciate,” Powell said, like pretending to be rapper Kanye West and stealing the spotlight from singer Taylor Swift as she accepted a trophy on this year’s Video Music Awards.
Friday broadcasts also include a world news segment, so Powell and Adlish spend Thursday nights scouring the Internet for appropriate news stories to poke fun at and keep it lively. They’ve used props to make fun of movies or sports. Adlish once wore ears and a braid constructed out of blue and brown construction paper to look like a character from Avatar to talk about the movie.
“We take risks,” Adlish said.
“It’s really good to see other people hyped up (about the broadcast),” said Tom, who does a segment called “On the Couch” in which she interviews student club members or athletes because behind the camera and desk in the studio sits a large couch, making it easy to provide a different perspective.
The newscasters even have their own signature sign-off as they toss a paper airplane with the goal of hitting the camera if they can, though one unfortunate track team member sitting with her group to be recognized on camera took a hit near an eye on Friday.
The catch to the broadcast this year, however, is not all students are able to watch what’s going on. Some seniors who take an enrichment course, or a time in their school schedule to focus on homework or other assignments, can watch in their classrooms, but the hope is to expand it to the whole school.
“Every classroom does have a TV,” Adlish said.
RNN was encouraged by Reed principal Mary Vesco, who said on Friday that last year she returned from a trip to Massachusetts and realized the school already had scrolling capabilities in certain areas of the school to run announcements.
“I thought, ‘Why waste paper? Why not do live announcements?’ ” she said. “It’s wonderful to have Mike Powell and Reed Adlish get dressed up in shirts and ties. The students need to be visible, like with track this morning. It’s neat to see who the other students are.”
She said for class registration, rather than send students home with papers, they put it in the broadcast and it saved class time by not having counselors step in the classrooms individually to announce it themselves.
In the meantime, those who have helped launch RNN say they’ve had fun and learned a little something in the process.
“I’ve learned a lot from the seniors,” said Fabbi, a junior, alluding to the technical needs it takes to run a broadcast that often incorporates an occasional DVD clip off an old player also at the students’ access.
This year’s crew is also glad of some changes next year’s students will enjoy. The white wall that currently shows during filming will be painted to look like an actual studio.
The students also said they receive positive feedback from their fellow students, who can submit announcements by filling out forms hung on the office door, and staff.
“They go out of their way to acknowledge us,” Adlish said of the faculty.