PV alum hosts Italian radio show


Contributed by Mike Hayden

The 2018 seniors on their Italian exchange trip in Treviso, Italy, where Mike Hayden’s exchange student lives. PV Italian teacher Barbara Borghi believes that this experience for Hayden “ignited a new passion for the language.”

(Editor’s note: As of Saturday, Jan. 5, the time of the radio show has been changed from Mondays at 7 p.m. to Mondays at 5 p.m..)

Pascack Valley alumnus Mike Hayden nervously entered the soundproof room where he was about to stream his first Italian music broadcast, but by the time he finished, he realized how smoothly everything went and how enjoyable it was to be able to play his music to the listeners.

“You’re putting out your taste in music and also your voice for the public to hear.” Hayden said, “I definitely was nervous of judgment.”  

Hayden found interest in the Italian language once he started taking classes in the seventh grade at George G. White Middle School in Hillsdale. He continued his education with four years in the Pascack Valley Italian Honors program with Mrs. Barbara Borghi as his teacher. He graduated last year with the class of 2018 and has continued to stay involved with the language in his freshman year at The University of Pittsburgh.

“It is always satisfying to see Italians coming here being ambassadors but when you see an American that actually becomes an ambassador within his community for Italian culture,” Borghi said. “That is just something as a person that I appreciate and, as a teacher, you can only hope for.”

Besides his Intro to Italian Linguistics class, at Pitt Hayden is also involved in both the Italian club and the radio club, WPTS. When he joined WPTS, Hayden did not know exactly what he was looking to do until he received what seemed like the perfect opportunity for him.

WPTS had sent out an email to the members of the Italian club indicating that they were looking to branch out into international music and needed someone to be an Italian radio DJ to play Italian music. Hayden emailed back saying that he was interested, and less than a week later, he started.

Every Monday night at 7 p.m., Hayden has a live Italian radio show called “Il Viaggio,” meaning “The Trip.” On his show, he plays Italian alternative rock music.

In the days leading up to Monday, Hayden peruses Spotify for Italian music and adds new songs he discovers and music from artists that he likes.

He has a master playlist of Italian songs from which he chooses 15 random ones and then organizes them onto a separate playlist, which becomes his playlist for that week.

Hayden has to do some research about the songs because, after every set, he throws in little tidbits about the meaning of the song, or the story behind the band’s name.

Borghi gave the link for his show to her high school classes so that they can tune in each week. Borghi said the best part for her is that so many of the songs on the show are ones that Hayden’s PV Italian class used to listen to and sing karaoke to.

“Even if they don’t understand the words,” Hayden said, “they can still appreciate that they like how it sounds.”

Going into his first year of college this past fall, Hayden decided to pursue a dual degree: one in computer engineering and the other in Italian language and literature.

Hayden made the decision to major in Italian because of how much he enjoyed both the class and the trip to Italy in high school. With hopes of visiting Italy again in the future, Hayden would like to speak Italian at an even higher level.

His Italian Linguistics class at the university is a writing intensive course, and out of the five or six essays he has written this year, only one of them has been in English. Hayden loves this class, though, because he believes it makes his writing so much stronger.

“It’s actually really hard because these are hard concepts to learn in general, but having them being taught to you in a different language makes it into a really fun challenge,” Hayden said.

Before the school year, Hayden arranged a meeting with the professor, and she had to approve him to take the Italian Linguistics class because, technically, as a freshman, he was not supposed to be taking that course yet.

Even though he feels a lot of pressure knowing he is the youngest student in the class, he appreciates that he gets a look into what his next couple years may look like in the Italian program at Pitt.

This summer Hayden plans to study abroad to Genoa, Italy, in a six-week program led by his current professor, and in the fall of junior year, he plans on going to Milan, Italy, for a semester to take his engineering courses in Italian.

Following college, Hayden hopes, at the very least, to still be fluent in Italian and hopefully be even better than he is now.

“If I can have a job that allows me to interact with the Italian language, that would be awesome because I will have two degrees, especially for computer science,” Hayden said. “A lot of the robotics are made in Italy, and I think having my degree and experience will be very beneficial to me. An opportunity for me for Italian… that’s the dream.”

Last spring Hayden embarked on the PV exchange trip to Italy where he stayed at the house of his exchange student, Lamberto Tresoldi, in Treviso. While casually overlooking a canal in Venice, he had a full conversation in Italian with Tresoldi about their different upbringings.

Hayden said that he had always wanted to visit outside the country and thought that it was cool to be able to see the real-life culture of what they had read about in the classroom.

“If I had thought about six years ago what had kept me in the [Italian] program,” Hayden said, “it was definitely the trip to Italy,” Hayden said. “The program allowed me to connect to the culture and be able to not just learn the language, but get a first-hand view of what their life was like.”

The exchange trip to Italy was not the end of Hayden’s relationship with the Italian students. He talks to them every day about school, life, and the current events of the world. Hayden believes this constant interaction with them has even improved his language and communication skills.

Borghi said she believes that Hayden’s experience of staying with his exchange student “ignited a new passion for the language.”

“On the trip, store clerks could tell we were American and would ask if we wanted to speak in English or Italian,” Hayden said. “I always went with Italian because I thought it was more fun to figure out what in the world they were trying to say. It was a fun challenge even when I probably embarrassed myself.”