During his 22 years with the Ovid-Elsie Area Schools, Michigan Superintendent Dr. Ryan Cunningham has had a colorful career. His journey spans from being handpicked by the prestigious American Council for International Studies to curating a basketball team and coordinating exciting field trips to Italy and Spain.
Amidst these accomplishments, Dr. Cunningham has also taken the airwaves by storm as the radio broadcaster of WOES (91.3), Michigan’s first ever radio station dedicated to high school students.
Ryan Cunningham of Michigan notes that the radio station was launched back in 1978 as an experiment – placed in a closet where students could play music in the halls during certain blocks of the day – until it grew into something much bigger.
Ryan Cunningham, Superintendent explains that from its humble beginnings with 10 watts of power, the station increased its capacity to 553 watts in November of 1981. Later in 1997, at the beginning of the school year, the station began its year-round, 24/7 broadcasting. Just a few years later, May 1st, 2000, marked the start of WOES’ entry to internet radio broadcasting.
Ryan Cunningham of Michigan says that as one of the few public-school systems in the entire United States that offer Radio and Television Broadcasting to its students, Ovid-Elsie Area Schools enjoys the many avenues for growth that come with that distinction.
Part of the growth WOES has experienced over the years is including sports broadcasting and live streaming from the district website. The station is also found on certain apps like Simple Radio or online radios such as TuneIn.
The Station’s Growth
Michigan Superintendent Ryan Cunningham further spoke about the school’s ability to broadcast sporting events and how the station provides the local community with something that many other schools in the United States do not have access to at this time.
During his time as Superintendent, Ryan Cunningham noted that the broadcasts have expanded from commentating strictly on varsity football and basketball, to soccer, volleyball, and softball as well. The station also offers a variety of other programming, such as music and news along with local sports. The student body and community DJs serve as hosts for the various programs.
Ryan Cunningham, Superintendent says that regardless of weather conditions or the location, he was always on-air coach of the girls’ basketball team, the Lady Marauders. This is a position he has held for several years and has enjoyed every second.
“WOES is an officially licensed radio station and falls under all of the rules and regulations of the Federal Communications Commission,” Ryan Cunningham, Superintendent proudly explains. “The platform for the radio station is Polka Music and we are fortunate to have a great Station Manager in Mr. Kevin Somers.”
Ryan Cunningham, Superintendent, also speaks fondly about the impact broadcasting has had on the community.
“In the early days of broadcast radio, we had to “plug in”. Now, with advancements in technology, we can set up anywhere, send a signal back to the station, and broadcast our events worldwide”, notes Ryan Cunningham.
Due to this international streaming option, parents, grandparents, and other family members can tune in from anywhere in the world if they have an internet connection.
We would have people call in or text us saying that they were on vacation in the Bahamas and were still listening to our broadcast, recalls Superintendent Ryan Cunningham. Even during the day, Mr. Somers would get requests for certain Polka songs from places like Czechoslovakia.
According to Ryan Cunningham, Superintendent, another unexpected benefit of the broadcast was its integration with the district’s robust International Exchange Program, seeing as many as 30 international students in some years. What was most exciting was that the families of foreign exchange students could tune in to the broadcasts, or even hear their children as the station’s host, across the world!
Celebrating the Journey
Ryan Cunningham of Michigan reminisces about his illustrious career, fondly stating that for over two decades, he has had the privilege of serving as an employee of Michigan Schools, recalling a multitude of sporting events alongside remarkable coaches, administrators, peers, and friends.
WOES is truly an asset to the community, and Mr. Cunningham notes that taking part in this exceptional ‘add-on’ to the district has brought him immense joy.
In conclusion, Ryan Cunningham’s 22-year career with Ovid-Elsie Area Schools as Superintendent and radio broadcaster has left a legacy of growth and positive community impact. From its modest beginnings, WOES (91.3) has evolved into Michigan’s highest-powered radio station for high school students, providing unique opportunities for growth, career opportunities, and broadcasting excellence.
With the ability to stream events worldwide, the station has connected families and communities, transcending geographical boundaries. Additionally, WOES’ integration with the International Exchange Program has further enriched the school’s global connections. As Ryan Cunningham reflects on his tenure, he takes pride in being part of a remarkable addition to the district, a true asset to the community, and a source of inspiration to others.