Don’t play the radio, let the students DJ!

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Jacqueline Chang

Music to his ears. Accolade business manager senior Daniel Kong got school officials to create a Google Form that allows students to submit school-appropriate songs for playing on the speakers. Before that, assistant principal Melissa Stinson would play songs from iHeartRadio through the school speakers during break and lunch.

Daniel Kong

After more than a year of distance learning, I eagerly stepped onto the Sunny Hills campus for the first day of my senior year on Aug. 16.

Many things had changed for those who never came to campus for hybrid learning in 2020-2021: mandatory temperature checks, mask wearing at all times inside classrooms and new hand sanitizer stations in each classroom. Yet, it was the radio music blasting in the quad during break and lunch that caught my attention.

During my first on-campus lunch with my school friends since March 2020, instead of cracking jokes and talking about our new teachers, we were too preoccupied with pop artist Doja Cat’s song, “Say So,” playing in the quad.

Seeing as it was only the first day of the fall semester, my friends and I thought the music choice would eventually change within the weeks to come. However, by the end of August, we were fed up with hearing the same songs over and over again.

To deal with this repetition of music, I tried using my AirPods to block out those tunes. After several incidents of asking my friends to repeat their sentences, I decided to find out who’s the break-time DJ. Eventually, my search led to assistant principal Melissa Stinson.

Stinson explained that the music selection coming from the speakers was controlled using the phone app, “Sonos,” which connects to music applications such as Spotify, Apple Music or Amazon Music and radio stations such as iHeart Radio and KIIS FM. It then plays songs through the school’s speaker system. 

Stinson also mentioned that principal Allen Whitten comes to her once every couple of weeks with specific music requests, such as patriotic music during the 9/11 memorial service. For the most part, though, she would play music from the iHeart Radio station, which primarily plays the top songs in the United States. 

After hearing her explain that she couldn’t consistently update playlists because of her other school duties, I suggested that she create for students a break-time music request option via a Google Form. She said that it would be posted on the school website under “Students and Parents” by Oct. 22. 

This would allow students to suggest their favorite titles to stream on the speakers to add onto the iHeart Radio station music, increasing student involvement on campus.

To my surprise, Stinson was more than happy to go forward with the idea as long as some guidelines were put in place:

  • no parental advisory explicit content
  • no inappropriate terminology, innuendos or topic of sexually explicit songs
  • clean versions of songs without expletive or inappropriate terms

As for filtering out the inappropriate songs, Stinson said she would temporarily sort through the playlist. Her goal is to set up a student-run music club where students passionate about music can sort through and create a weekly playlist that follows school guidelines.

After seeing the assistant principal being so open to the suggestion of students choosing songs to play on the school speakers, my friends and I are looking forward to hearing our song suggestions in the quad.

Whenever my friends and I go on a drive, we’re eager to blast our favorite songs on max volume, so having the opportunity to play music on the school speakers to thousands of students is truly a privilege.

I can’t wait for the day I can dance to Bruno Mars’ “Uptown Funk” and Jeremy Passion’s “Bye Bye” – both of which I’m sure will satisfy Stinson’s criteria. For songs that contain explicit content such as Desiigner’s “Panda,” I’ll make sure to submit the clean version. 

More than anything, I hope that through other students’ suggestions, I can explore different genres of music and find songs I never would’ve come across. I’m willing to listen to a country song or two if I’m able to find even a single song that’s worthy of adding to my playlist – I’ve gotten used to this genre since they’ve been playing recently during the passing periods.