School of Rock

Tuning in to the deejays of Horn High. 

On a Tuesday morning in May, Riley Roberson and Jeremy Villanueva, both then juniors at Mesquite’s Horn High School, zipped down Town East Boulevard and parked in front of a nondescript brick building about ten miles from campus. Inside were the studios of KEOM, one of the few high-powered high school radio stations in the country, which broadcasts from a 61,000-watt tower behind Memorial Stadium. Around 250,000 tune in each month, and during school hours what they hear are Mesquite ISD students live-deejaying seventies hits, with a little sixties and eighties mixed in. 

“We’ve been on KEOM for two years,” Jeremy said on the drive over, between sips of a Frappuccino. “At school we’re like, ‘Hey, we’re on the radio!’ Then they find out what kind of music we play. Uh, it’s definitely not hip-hop.” 

“The gifted students, they think the radio thing is pretty cool,” Riley said. “Our grandparents do too.” 

“Well, mine don’t,” Jeremy said. “ ’Cause it’s not tejano.” 

Neil Diamond’s “Song Sung Blue” played as they walked down the maroonish-carpeted hallways, passing colorful bulletin boards. When they arrived at Mrs. Turner’s cubicle—the classroom, such as it is, for Advanced Broadcast Journalism—four students were huddled together, waiting to receive their morning assignments. Jeremy would tape a segment on a middle school librarian who hosted a Hunger Gamesmock-archery challenge, and Riley would continue to work on a “Wondrous Words” segment tracing the etymology of “hors d’oeuvre.” “They like us to use SAT words,” Alexa Everson, a senior, explained with a shrug.

“ ‘Hors d’oeuvre’ used to have to do with

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