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Radio Beacon Switch on the radio and tune in your favorite hits.

Nearly four years is what it would take for those broadcasted beats to reach the little green men on Alpha Centauri — which, at roughly 4.3 light-years away, is the closest star to our big blue marble other than the sun.

Nearly four years is what it took to build and launch the long-awaited student broadcasting experience Radio Beacon. The college’s new student-centered podcasting channel officially hits the airwaves for the fall 2020 semester.

“This opportunity will give students a chance to learn about the spoken word and the creative and technical aspects of recording and editing audio,” said Matthew Cupach, an instructor in computer information systems/web and digital media at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla. Cupach — who served as a faculty adviser for three years at WNCG-LP (95.7 FM), the low-power college radio owned by North Central State College — is the faculty advisor to Radio Beacon.

What can interested podcasters expect from Radio Beacon?

“Students will be able to learn how to produce a podcast on a topic of their interest,” Cupach said. “They will have access to the podcast studio after they have gone through the training, and if their work passes muster, it will be uploaded to Spotify.”

Faculty and staff also can give talk radio a go.

Four years ago, Radio Beacon was just a twinkle in Dan Bordenkircher’s eye.

The former Beacon learning specialist and alumnus hatched the notion of an internet radio station to share the views and voices of students at America’s first accredited baccalaureate institution for neurodiverse students who learn differently.

After an initial informational and brainstorming session with students and interested staffers in April 2016, Bordenkircher recruited would-be broadcasters, helped develop show ideas, and brainstormed funding solutions. Brett Daly, an information technology systems analyst at Beacon, suggested Radio Beacon adopt a podcast format.

In January 2017, the Radio Beacon team launched a $5,000 crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Through the generosity of 31 backers, the campaign was fully funded.

The donations defrayed a Mac computer, audio-technica microphones and headphones, mic stands, pop shields, and a mixing station. Daly wired and set up the studio.

And Radio Beacon was born.

Still, for more than two years after that, the newborn project still was crawling. A dearth of campus office space meant Radio Beacon had no home.

That changed in August 2019.

Beacon President George J. Hagerty — a major booster of the project — assigned Radio Beacon an office in the Beacon College Compass Center.

“Like all signature co-curricular offerings at the college, Radio Beacon took time to nurture and take root,” Hagerty said. “It has been the vision and perseverance of devoted students and faculty that have brought all the pieces together and made this long-desired program a reality.  It is now time to create and enjoy!

With a permanent home secured, Cupach, who took over as faculty advisor in 2019, meet with students over the course of the fall 2019 semester and trained them in audio production and worked with them on creating sample segments for a spring debut.

Then, COVID happened and short-circuited Radio Beacon’s soft launch.

The good news is Cupach’s charges successfully produced an eclectic blend of talk radio segments ranging from movie, videogame, and music reviews to a primer on safety strategies for outlasting the pandemic.

The better news is that interested students can sign up to enter the exciting world of podcasting here: https://www.beaconcollege.edu/news-events/radio-beacon/

Radio Beacon “is one-of-a-kind program where teams of students or community members can create an outstanding podcast for the entire internet to hear,” said Corin Shields of Davis, Calif., 2019-20 Radio Beacon president and a rising senior. “I joined the podcasting world in 2019 and have been involved ever since. I joined because I wanted to take my love of everything Disney and turn it into something that has meaning to me and something that will get a lot of listeners.”