Twelve years after putting in the original FCC application, students in the radio broadcasting program at Mesa's East Valley Institute for Technology are on the verge of really being heard.
Late last month, Steve Grosz, EVIT radio broadcast instructor, learned the FCC awarded the school a preliminary construction permit for a full-powered community FM radio transmitter and tower. Grosz expects the full permit to be awarded by the end of the July.
"I thought this would never happen," Grosz said.
The news came via e-mail and Grosz said, "I screamed."
"It's been so long in waiting. To think, boom, it was just there. It was unrealistic ... I did expect it sometime this year. I was thinking the decision would come down in early fall," he said. "But if you think back, I've been saying that for years. I think it's going to happen every year."
Grosz first submitted the application in 1998. In 2005, frustrated with the process, he left the school. He came back two years later when the FCC decided to hear the application again.
Currently the 50 students in Grosz's program run an online radio station - Goldmine Radio. The only way to hear the students and their programs is to click on the school's website.
That could change as soon as December. The school has an agreement to build the tower and transmitter at Goldfield Ghost Town near Apache Junction. Construction should begin in the fall.
The school's governing board set aside money for the program years ago. Though the costs have gone up, they're moving forward. It will run about $80,000.
Because it will be a noncommercial radio station, the school will seek sponsorships for programs, much like National Public Radio or local affiliate KJZZ operate, Grosz said.
The change to live radio - the station will be heard on 90.7 FM - means upgrades to the radio studios at EVIT.
It also means putting the programs on time delay, "so nothing by accident slips out," Grosz said.
Gilbert High School senior Nathan Montierth, 17, is ready for the experience.
"To be on live radio will be a little more challenging, but a lot more exciting. I know actual people are listening to me on-air. It's just an exciting thing that can happen," Montierth said.
This will be Montierth's second year in radio studies. Last year he started a radio show dubbed, "Mashed Potatoes and Gravy." He hopes to continue it next year with a mix of talk and music, specifically ska and punk.