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WLTL rocks for Rock-A-Thon fundraiser, raises $24K

LA GRANGE – Lyons Township High School senior Matt Van De Sompele doesn’t usually lick whipped cream from another student’s bare stomach on live T.V., except he’s trying to win a challenge to raise money for his school radio station. 

Van De Sompele said people will usually call WLTL radio station, 88.1 FM, and offer a certain amount of money for the student workers to perform crazy shenanigans.

These stunts, which aired live on LTTV, the high school’s television station, were part of the radio station’s 32nd annual Rock-A-Thon fundraising event, which was held last weekend and continued through Monday at 9 p.m. For the fundraiser, students continually broadcast for 88.1 straight hours, spending the weekend in the station overnight.

Van De Sompele, creative arts director for WLTL, said these crazy and creative antics are the main drive to the fundraiser. 

“My friend dared me to do that crazy stunt,” said Van De Sompele. “People have friends with money and those friends can be evil.”

The fundraiser aims to raise money for a different goal each year. Donations from this year’s event will go toward renovating the South Campus studios and upgrading technology. As of 9 a.m. Tuesday, students raised $24,221, according to Christopher Thomas, general manager for WLTL and the radio station's faculty adviser

“The last time we did anything at the south campus was in the 1990s,” said Thomas. “We’re trying to get them caught up to speed on what we’re doing here.”

The radio station, located in the basement of LT's North Campus, 100 S. Brainard Ave., also collected money through online donations and checks. 

WLTL was named the best high school radio station in the nation in 2012, 2009, 2008, 2004 and 2002, according to its website. Students are selected to become the managers of the radio station. 

Thomas said more than 100 students are involved at the radio station.

“Students are working jobs that they’ll eventually want a career in,” said Thomas, who has worked as the general manager for nine years. “They learn how to use new equipment and updated technology. The fundraiser keeps us operating at that level.”

As student workers continued on with their crazy shenanigans, such as performing the famous Carlton dance in unison on live TV, Thomas reflected on his experience participating in the event while he was a senior at Lyons Township High School in 1998. 

For each of the last two years, he said the station raised just over $30,000, compared with the $5,500 it raised in 1998. 

“It’s amazing to see how much the community has helped us out in such a short time,” said Thomas. 

Van De Sompele, who runs the day to day programming at the radio station, said the fundraising event is the only time where he sees everyone involved. He added any other day he wouldn’t get to see everyone because of the school being split into two campuses, with juniors and seniors located at North Campus and freshmen and sophomores located at South Campus.

The Lyons Township senior said he plans to major in administration and hopes to eventually run his own radio station.

“Working with WLTL helps improve my public speaking skills and helps me to communicate with different varieties of people,” said Van De Sompele. 

The senior said this event has made him have a closer relationship with the staff, especially because of the crazy stunts.

Kara Lane, programming director for the radio station, said the most popular and crazy request is for student workers to dye and shave their head. 

“I’ve had people come up to me and say, ‘How much would it cost for you to shave your head?'" Lane said.

Lane, who became the programming director last summer, said if she ever wants to major in radio production, the station has definitely given her the skills to go that route. She added she either wants to go into production or voice acting. 

Last year, she said she was duct taped to another person for an hour. But, Lane added she wouldn’t be involved in these stunts if she didn’t think it was for a good cause.

“We all believe in it and it’s been fun," Lane said. "We work very well together.”

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