Oregon Artist Revives Old Idea With Broadcast Classes

April Baer / OPB
“School of the Air Band” classroom ready for students.”
An Oregon artist is reviving an old idea about teaching over the airwaves. Her project is on display in Lane County this month.

Jen Delos Reyes has been thinking about the radio broadcast classes that used to be offered by some universities or other educational groups. She was specifically interested in the concept of a broadcast music class that people could use on their own, in groups, anywhere, really.

“I am inspired a lot by Alan Lomax,” she said.

Reyes tells how the famous music archivist worked in 1939 on a broadcast for an ambitious experiment, the CBS School of the Air.

“They would have a broadcast every afternoon at 2:30 that over 300,000 children would hear. Schools across America would tune in to the radio and go along with their readers that would be sent out.That went on for about eighteen years. Tuesdays were music day.”

Reyes is a professor of Art and Social Practice at Portland State University. She assembled four broadcast classes, on subjects like “Work and Play,” “Choirs” and “Union and Protest” songs.

Reyes say she wrote the broadcasts to be versatile. They can be part of a formal curriculum, or just for fun.

“Through making music together, we can learn so much about what it means to collaborate with someone, group dynamics,” Reyes said.

Ditch Projects in Springfield has an exhibition featuring all the readings and broadcasts Reyes put together.

Related links:

Episodes can be downloaded here

Where to find Ditch:


Story by April Baer