HCHS’s Tiger Radio wins gold at SkillsUSA Championship


Hardin County High School Tiger Radio took first place at the SkillsUSA National Championship in Louisville, Kentucky June 27-28 in the Audio/Radio Production category.

Ron Shank, broadcasting instructor and teacher at HCHS, accompanied two three-year members of Tiger Radio, Anna Grace Baker, 18, and Maddie Blankenship, 18.

From left, Anna Grace Baker, Ron Shank, and Maddie Blankenship display their gold medals after winning the SkillsUSA Championship for Audio/Radio Production.

Present at the competition were more than 6,300 students competing in 102 different areas of trade, leadership and skill. The state of California won third place and New York won second place.

Tiger Radio represented Tennessee and was up against 25 other states.

“It’s cool to know we’re the best in the nation!” said Baker.

Baker and Blankenship won the SkillsUSA State Competition category this spring before becoming alumni at HCHS.

WQTR Tiger Radio, 106.1 FM is a student-operated radio station sponsored by the community and administrators at HCHS. Shank said all members of Tiger Radio were prepared and could have competed at the SkillsUSA competition.

The team began preparing for the National Championship as soon as they returned from the SkillsUSA State Championship, even returning to the station after school had ended. The two girls practiced editing and writing, and worked on moderating their southern accents.

The SkillsUSA National Championship consisted of Baker and Blankenship creating a news story on their given topic, immigration reform, and include commercials. The students had to write the script, go out and find people to willingly interview on the topic and edit the entire story in 12 hours.

“Learning to work on a deadline under pressure with a team is important. It was a good experience,” said Blankenship.

Blankenship plans to attend Middle Tennessee State University in August and pursue radio as a hobby by getting involved with the university’s radio station.

Baker was also involved in Tiger Radio for three years, finishing her senior year as the Tiger Radio news director. Baker plans to attend the College of Media and Entertainment at MTSU to further her career in the audio/radio field this August.

“It taught me if you set your mind to something you can do anything,” said Baker.

As a takeaway from her Tiger Radio experience, Baker feels as though it has prepared her for having a job in the communications field and helped with her confidence.

“I’ve got a lot of experience in radio. These kids are really good – not just Maddie and Anna Grace. It really was a team effort,” said Shank.

Tatum Hogan and Ander Talley accompanied the team to the state championship this spring to observe and will compete next year as seniors.

“I think they’re going to do great. They have good voices, are good at editing and they already have been to state to observe,” said Baker regarding Talley and Hogan.

Talley and Hogan will prepare all year for state. Tiger Radio is working for the same results next year.

All members of the team are thankful for the support they received.

“This is a great area and community. It’s a great launching pad for students,” said Shank.

Tiger Radio is hoping to expand into “Tiger Media” this upcoming school year.