High school junior Dylan Carollo started his radio station when he was 11 years old and has been managing it ever since. The 17-year-old wanted to use his platform to help workers on the front line of the coronavirus pandemic so he came up with an ingenious fundraising idea and raised more than $30,000.
Carollo operates D100 Radio with his cousin and a friend. The station's headquarters is located in One World Trade Center in New York City, with Carollo broadcasting from his hometown of Orlando, Florida.
Carollo noticed an uptick in listeners as the coronavirus spread across the U.S. in March and wanted to come up with a way to leverage the medium to help front line workers.
"We saw all these fundraisers going on and we saw all these frontline workers just struggling across these major hotspots around America," Carollo told CBS News. "And we said, 'There has to be a way that we can get our listeners — to make it interactive, make it fun for them while benefiting these locations around the country.'"
Listeners could donate a minimum of $5 to several organizations on the station's website to hear a song of their choice on-air. Some of the participating organizations included the FDNY Foundation in New York, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles and the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.
Donors were given the option to choose where their money would go within the organizations. Those who spent additional money received a wristband, T-shirt, or an on-air shoutout.
"We have worked with each of the representative organizations to focus the donation so that donors could select direct funding to frontline workers, vaccine development or other COVID-19 needs," Carollo said.
The fundraiser began April 29 and was originally planned as a 24-hour event, but due to a massive response, Carollo promoted it through May 15.
"To be honest, it's been shocking. We really did not think it was going to become as big as it has and we're so appreciative of everyone's support because these frontline workers around the country really need our help," the teen said.
While the station isn't promoting the fundraiser on-air any longer, there is still an option for listeners to donate online.
Between managing the station and attending school, Carollo said he has been working long hours. He said the workload is worth it knowing he's helping frontline workers.
"It's been nonstop for the past six weeks, from morning to night, doing schoolwork in the morning and getting into the fundraiser in the afternoon," Carollo said. "But overall I wouldn't have it any other way."