From the Archives – Mentor Log (October 30, 1975)


Steve Couch

Mr. Scott Kowalke, as he appeared in 1975, talks about his “Big Zero”

Mr. Steve Couch and Steven Dohm

Please enjoy this archived article from the old Mentor High School Log, one of the earlier incarnations of the Mentor High School student newspaper. Special thanks to Mr. Sanelli for finding these in an old bureau taken from the old Mentor High School Library during its renovation into the Hub. Also thanks to Mrs. Ford and the GenYes team for scanning and sharing the original article.

This story centers around the old MHS radio station, WZRO. Mr. Scott Kowalke was the advisor, a gentlemen whom I still had the pleasure to know when I was a student in the 1980s. (As you can tell, he had a solid sense of humor.) The studio was located in multiple locations, as described here. But in the 1980s, I remember them operating out of what is now A-106, currently a small classroom. The old control room is now a storage closet. The morning announcements were run from this location into the 1980s before relocating to the end of F-Wing upon its construction in 1993. I especially enjoyed Mr. Kowalke at that time using “You Crack Me Up” (1983) by Huey Lewis and the News as the Sports Report theme! – Mr. Couch, Cardinal Nation Advisor

October 30, 1975

Experience yields improved WZRO

The old control room of TV Productions as seen from A-106 (Steve Couch)

Every school morning the voice of WZRO, Mentor High’s own radio station, greets the school. 

Scott Kowalke, who teaches electronics here, has been the adviser to WZRO since its conception three years ago. At that time James Trusso, then student affairs manager, suggested a radio station. Although WZRO was originally to broadcast only the morning announcements because “no one was listening to the announcements,” according to Mr. Kowalke, the station now gives a number of students first-hand experience working with a radio station. 

Through Jack Walker, instructor in graphic arts, WZRO got two phonographs and a studio in the P.A. room. The students built their own mixer (an instrument used for combining sounds.)

The TV Productions room as it looks today – if these walls could play music… (Steve Couch)

The location of the studio has been changed many times. Now WZRO has two studios, one across from the principal’s office and another, which the students use, in the back of I 17. In April of last year a production room was added for commercials but it hasn’t been used much. “The rooms were supposedly sound-proofed,” says Mr. Kowalke, “but they aren’t too sound-proof.”

During the first year the students were more interested in “playing music than in working with the radio.” They did only morning announcements that year and it was thought that WZRO wouldn’t get off the ground. Because of its “nothing” reputation and as something more unusual than school initials, Mr. Kowalke’s wife came up with ZRO (for zero).

In the beginning the Top 25 sang jingles for the “big ZERO.” Mr. Kowalke relates: “That is until somebody erased the tape.” Mr. Kowalke also said, “Maybe it’s a sign of our advancement that we weren’t called the ‘big zero’ much last year and not at all this year.”

Louis Simmer is the station manager at WZRO. There is now an increase in the staff to about twenty as a result of recent try-outs. Although there is a new announcer every two or three days now there still aren’t enough people or enough time devoted to the station, according to Mr. Kowalke “We’ve got a tiger by the tail and not enough time to tame it.”

Where the morning announcements were once student-broadcast (Steve Couch)

WZRO also suffers from lack of funds. Mr. Kowalke reported, “We got $150 from the circus. That went to new equipment.” Although WPVL donates records that “never made it” to the station, all records played are the students’ own.

School news gets to WZRO two ways. One way is late news like sports. The other way is from the announcement sheet every day.

“Last year was our worst year as far as creativity goes,” remarks Mr. Kowalke. There is now a sign on the wall that says, “Be creative.”

It seems that this year WZRO is “getting it all together” and MHS can look forward to a good year of broadcasting.