In the early 1970s, the first radio broadcasting was done as an in-house station. The call letters were WSCB and it was only broadcast through the halls at Chesterton High School. Mr. Dan Beckley, Audio-Visual Director, helped assemble all the equipment and was responsible for getting the station up and running.
The original idea for having a radio station at CHS came from Greg Odle, a student at the high school. He thought it would be a good idea for CHS to have its own radio station. So he approached Mr. William Crockett, CHS Principal, with his suggestion and Mr. Crockett pursued the possibility.
It took about 2 years of planning and working with the Federal Communications Commission before the current station went on-the-air. WDSO-FM, Chesterton High School’s non-commercial, educational station was a 10-watt station and was located at FM 89.1. Mr. William Crockett was still the Principal of CHS when WDSO went on-the-air in 1976. John Corso, Duneland School Audio-Visual Coordinator, and Dan Beckley were in charge of the technical aspects of the station.
Under the direction of CHS English teacher, Mr. James Cavallo, the station went on-the-air on Wednesday, November 24th, 1976 for the first time. Full programming started on Monday, November 29th. The station was on-the-air from 6:00 AM - 4:30 PM weekdays with some special programming in the evenings. The station was off-the-air during school vacations. Mr. Cavallo was the Station Manager and Faculty Advisor from 1976 to the end of the school year in 1984. He helped develop much of the programming that we still broadcast today. This included local, state and national news coverage, programs like the Community Bulletin Board, sports coverage, live broadcasts from town meetings, the Duneland School Board, Election coverage and more.
Cavallo was responsible for coordinating the power increase that was granted in 1985. He was assisted by his Instructional Aide Miss Michele Stipanovich. During the 1985-86 school year, WDSO went on-the-air with a power increase. The signal was now stereo at 88.3 FM and operated at 410 watts from 100 feet above the high school. Station Manager and Radio Instructor Brent Barber took over managing WDSO in 1989. During the summer of 2000, WDSO moved to new facilities at the new Chesterton High School. The new station includes the main broadcast studio, three production studios as well as an Engineering room and Music Library which also contains WDSO’s Archives. Included in the area are a TV production studio and control room. The WDSO transmitter remains at the old high school building (now Chesterton Middle School).
WDSO became one of the first radio stations to utilize fiber optic cable to transport the radio signal over a mile-and-a-half from the studio to the transmitter. WDSO celebrated its 25th year of broadcasting with a Reunion/Celebration on November 17, 2001. Over 100 former and current students attended. The evening included a short program in the CHS Auditorium, refreshments and tours of the new WDSO facilities.
On February 19, 2002, WDSO was honored at the Indiana General Assembly in Indianapolis. House Resolution 38 recognized WDSO for its 25 years of broadcasting. Author of the Resolution was State Representative Ralph Ayres from Chesterton also a Social Studies teacher at Chesterton High School. State Representatives Duane Cheney from Portage and Charlie Brown from Gary also sponsored the bill. All three legislators represent the Duneland School area. In the Senate, sponsors of the bill were Senators Rose Ann Antich from Merrillville and Bill Alexa from Valparaiso. A copy of the Resolution can be found here (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader).
March 2004 marked the start of WDSO broadcasting on the internet. In 2005 WDSO obtained their new Station Manager/Instructor; former WDSO student Matthew Waters helps current students run the station along with Operations Manager Michele Stipanovich. In the fall of 2006 WDSO celebrated 30 years on the air.
In the fall of 2014, WDSO purchased a new Nautel VS-1 transmitter, to replace the one from 1985, because of this, WDSO is able to operate 24/7 and 365 days a year. WDSO Celebrated its 40th anniversary on air in August of 2016. In the winter of the 2018-2019 school year, WDSO began to use RDS to display the song title and artist name on compatible car radios. WDSO will partner with CSN in the 2019 - 2020 school year to begin live video streams of sports games alongside of the WDSO sports coverage.