It was a rainy Thursday morning in February, and all of the fifth graders in Mrs. Whipple's class were on the bus for a field trip to K-BEAN, Beantown's one and only radio station. The station was on the second floor of an older building on Beantown's main street. Mrs. Whipple, who was driving, parked the bus right in front of the building.
"Everyone out!" she announced in a loud voice. "Mr. and Mrs. Richards are waiting for us! That's it, through that door and up those stairs!" Mrs. Whipple was very good at managing things, always making sure that things were done decently and in order.
Mr. and Mrs. Richards were waiting beside an open door at the top of the stairs. "Welcome to K-BEAN, kids! Come on in!"
Willie was the first one through the door. He didn't really know what to expect, but it certainly wasn't what he saw! He was expecting gleaming, state-of-the-art, fancy electronic equipment, but everything he saw looked old and worn out. It looked like a collection of old record players and tape recorders arranged on a few kitchen tables. Cassettes were piled here and there, with papers scattered all around. Willie was greatly disappointed by what he saw.
He looked over at Grace to see her reaction, but Grace was listening carefully as Mr. Richards began to explain the purpose of each piece of equipment.
"This is the transmitter," he was saying. This sends the sound of my voice to our tower, which is up on Bean Mountain. Have any of you ever been up there?"
Remembering their recent Mountain Lion Adventure, which took place up on that very mountain, Willie and Grace nodded. "We've seen the tower, but we didn't realize it was K-BEAN's tower."
"What kinds of programs do you play on K-BEAN?" Grace asked. Since K-BEAN was the only radio station in town, she knew exactly what programs were on the station, but she asked the question to be polite.
"Well, as you know, we are a Christian station. We play hymns and sermons, mostly," replied Mr. Richard. "Also the news and the weather. We even have a live talk show, where people call in and argue...er, I mean, discuss things with Herb Jackson."
Herb Jackson was the Mayor of Beantown, and he had a lot of opinions. His talk show really riled people up!
"What's on the air right now?" asked Jasmine, one of the fifth graders.
"Hmmmmm, let me see... Well, it's 10 o'clock, and time for "Springs of Hope." That's a show from a church in Oklahoma." Mr. Richards twisted a knob on an ancient-looking piece of equipment, and the familiar theme music of "Springs of Hope" filled the room. "This show has been on the air for 25 years!" announced Mrs. Richards happily.
All of the sudden, there was a loud pop, and then silence.
"What happened?" the kids asked, as Mr. Richards started turning knobs and sliding levers.
Mrs. Richards looked upset. "This is the third time this has happened this week!" she said. "What could this mean?" Secretly to himself, Willie thought it meant that K-BEAN needed to buy some more reliable equipment, but that turned out not to be the case.
"This is the third time this week that "Springs of Hope" has mysteriously gone off the air. All of our equipment is working fine, but the station goes off the air a few minutes after 10 o'clock. And at 10:30, when it's time for "Springs of Hope" to end, the radio station comes back to life again. We have no explanation for this!
NEXT STORY: "A Visit to K-BEAN, part 2"