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Illegal Mail by Jacorey of Blunt Youth Radio

January 11, 2012 in Youthcast by Emily


Jacorey is an aspiring radio producer who's working on a degree in radio broadcasting at Southern Maine Community College.  He is also incarcerated at the Long Creek Youth Development Center.

And although you have to walk through five locked doors to see Jacorey and his friends at Long Creek, if you want to hear them, just press play:


"They write letters back and forth from female residents to male residents or vise-versa" Jacorey told me.  Then, they put the letters under trashcans or in hiding places for the other to find.  At Long Creek, they call this note passing "Illegal Mail."

In his piece, Jacorey interviews his friend, the "King of Illegal Mail," as well as Ms. Peevey, a staff member who confiscates these clandestine love notes.  Jacorey is trying to understand why "illegal mail" is against the rules, and why some of his friends do it anyway.

There is a long tradition of making radio behind bars, probably because the medium allows us to communicate such personal stories with so much anonymity.  Blunt Youth Radio's Incarcerated Youth Speak Out project is one of a few that focuses on young people.  They even had this story featured on This American Life.   Some 3,000 miles across the country, these incarcerated California teens are also making radio, while Curie Youth Radio students in Chicago document what it's like to be looking in from the other side of the glass window.    Be sure to listen to the seminal Prison Diaries from Radio Diaries — and tell us what you think of it all on Facebook and Twitter.

Image by Kristin Bradley.

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Big Loose Fear by Jennie Gruber of Sarah Lawrence College Radio

December 28, 2011 in Youthcast by Emily


"Sometimes I wonder if I'll ever be as uncivilized again," Jennie Gruber asks at the end of this week's featured story, Big Loose Fear. Hers is the kind of story that makes you think "nothing makes good radio like good writing," then adding "or good sound… and composition…."


It's no wonder Jennie is a great writer and producer, since she's getting a Masters in Creative Writing at Sarah Lawrence College, where she produced this piece with Sarah Lawrence College Radio under the tutelage of celebrated public radio producer, Ann Heppermann. In the story,  Jennie recalls her post-college years collecting garbage for a recycling company in Santa Cruz, CA; her enterprising (and often homeless) customers, and the impact all of this had on her present self.

This is a fun one, so sit back and enjoy.


Images by D'Arcy Norman and Timothy Takemoto.

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Soundtrack to School Violence by Cristel Martinez of Philly Youth Radio

December 14, 2011 in Youthcast by Emily

Why have so many schools become violent places? We'll leave that to the social scientists. But what it feels like to experience a culture of violence at school — for that we'll call in the experts like Cristel Martinez.


Cristel moved to Philadelphia from the Dominican Republic with one goal in mind: to become a music producer. She didn't expect the daily routine of hateful words, unconcealed drug use, physical fighting and exhausted teachers that she found at high school in Philadelphia. But when Philly Youth Radio got a hold of her, Cristel spun her love of music and her disappointment at school into an incredibly creative story that takes you right into the hallways of her school.


I recently spoke with Cristel, who's now in college studying music production and business. Stay tuned after her piece to hear our interview.


School violence is big deal these days, and we want to see the young people who are affected by it driving the conversation. Generation PRX's Jones Franzel is heading up a youth radio project on bullying, with a grant from the Motorola Mobility Foundation. Generation PRX is sending equipment to five youth radio groups, and creating an hour-long special featuring their stories. You can share your stories and learn more about Generation PRX's bullying project at Generation PRX.org and on GenerationPRX's Facebook page.


If you are in the Philadelphia region and are interested in making radio, check out Philly Youth Radio's paid youth apprenticeships. They're taking applications through December 22nd so hop to!

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To Bet or Not to Bet by Vincent Geary of Brooklyn College Radio

November 30, 2011 in Youthcast by Emily

Earlier this month, 64% of voters in New Jersey passed a ballot measure that made sports betting legal at casinos and racetracks in their state. The only problem is — the federal government still says sports betting is illegal. Who's right?


"Who cares?" might be a better question, at least for regular sports betters like Brooklyn College Radio's Vincent Geary. Vincent told me in an interview this week that in his community in Rockaway, Queens, lots of people bet on sports. For some it's a hobby, for some it's a sport, and yes, for others it's an addiction. But for everybody, it's totally out in the open — and as far as they're concerned, it's legal. That's because of the thousands of international online gambling websites through which bookmakers and gamblers settle their bets these days.


Vincent studies radio at City University of New York in Brooklyn. He told me he didn't expect his college radio class to be so surprised that he was a regular gambler. So, for Vincent's final project, he decided to capture the nature of gambling in his community in Rockaway NY. He told me: "Gambling has a very negative connotation… and I just wanted to put it out there and have people decide on their own."
So have a listen. And stay tuned for my interview with Vincent at the end of the podcast.


Online gambling image by Orin Zebest, Bookie image by flickr_lifeshots.

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Do You Want It from Brentton Harrison of Fusion Youth Radio

November 16, 2011 in Youthcast by Emily

gourmet 2
By Brentton Harrison

Food.  It's powerful stuff.  Not just because it fuels our bodies or our activities, but because it does something deeper. It connects us — to the past, to each other, to places, and to the earth itself.  That's probably why there's so much radio about food.  There's the Kitchen Sisters, of course, who tell stories about community in a way no one else has or probably will.  There's PBS's The Meaning of Food  (Ok, I know, PBS isn't radio, but … it's close!) which asks questions you've always wondered about, like "who prepares the last meal for death-row inmates?" And "what's the difference between a Kosher loaf  bread, and a not-Kosher loaf of bread?" If you search PRX, you'll find 2,260 pieces, all about food.

silly brenton img

This week on Youthcast, we're featuring a piece by Brentton Harrison, a 19 year old culinary school student who lives in South Carolina.  It's called "Do You Want It," and was produced with Fusion Youth Radio in Chapel Hill, NC. Do You Want It not only asks and answers questions about food, culture and community —  it also features Brentton's singing, and the grooves of his high school band, Reverend B and the Wanna Bs.


One thing I like about Brentton's producing [and just general] style is the way he takes things that are light, and things that are more serious or complex, and acknowledges them equally. You can get a sense of that by checking out his images below. On the left, his gorgeous gourmet meal. On the right, his chicken and waffle sandwich.


Speaking of chicken and waffles, if you haven't tried it, you should. This stuff is seriously delicious. My favorite place to get chicken and waffles is at Roscoe's in Los Angeles. Where's yours?

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Short List #5 from Third Grade Audio

November 2, 2011 in Youthcast by Emily

Third Grade Audio picture
Image from Third Grade Audio

This week's episode contains:

1 Short List produced by 8 and 9 year olds
1 Interview with their 3rd grade teacher
1 Short List produced by a 26-year old, inspired by the 8 and 9 year olds


I can't tell you what this week's Youthcast episode is about. It's a mystery that reveals itself upon listening. But I've got a few other things to share. First of all, hello! My name is Emily Corwin, and I am your new host. Molly Adams, Chantel Harley and Kiera Feldman have left some big shoes to fill, and although I only wear a size 6, I'm planning to run, jump and skip in them.

A little about me:

In addition to hosting Youthcast, I am also the Assistant Programmer of Public Radio Remix, PRX's 24/7 radio service of driveway-moment storytelling. I also make my own radio, which you can get a taste of here, or on PRX. Until a few months ago, I held-down the PRX help-desk homefront with Genevieve Sponsler, and before that I played all kinds of crazy music on the cello. If I'm not listening to, talking about, or making radio, I'm probably running, biking, cooking, eating, or skyping with my tiny nephew. The image on the left is me working on this story.

So yes. It's nice to meet you!

davids-pictureBack to this week's piece.
I already mentioned that I can't tell you what it's about (you'll have to listen,) but I can tell you who made it. Third Grade Audio is the youth producer group run by David Green, who teaches 3rd graders at North Shore Country Day in Winnetka, IL, just outside Chicago. This piece is a short list, a style of radio collage made popular by Jay Allison of Transom and WCAI. It was produced by David's summer program students, who are 8 and 9 years old. These students also created a companion animation, which I'm posting below. I recommend listening to the audio first, and then taking a look at the silent animation.

We welcome questions, comments (adulation is welcome, suggestions are okay too), and anything else here on the blog, as well as on our facebook page.

Wall Street Woes by Lauren Silverman of Youth Radio

October 19, 2011 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

It used to be that entering the financial sector—be it as a banker, a stock broker, maybe a hedge fund manager! Whatever they do!—was a normal, vanilla job possibility for young people. It was on the same generic shortlist as doctor, lawyer, movie star, or astronaut. But ever since the recession began at the end of 2008, spurred on by the shady dealings of people working at the highest levels of finance, those job titles have become loaded words.

Lauren Silverman used to think that Wall Street was her path. And let’s just say that when the bank bailouts happened, her dream crashed, deflated, and possibly bottomed-out, to borrow a few familiar metaphors. But guess what? Lauren found another career that has worked out for her: public radio! She now works as a producer for Weekend All Things Considered. Stay tuned after her commentary, because we talked on the phone about just how you get in the door in Washington DC and why its never too late to go back to radio.


And finally, waaah! This is the last episode that I will be hosting for YouthCast. It's been a lot of fun, meeting producers around the country over the phone and by email, listening to hours and hours of youth produced radio that, in my opinion, can far surpass the work of professionals in its honesty and originality. So I want to shout out all the young producers who make this work mostly on their own time and all the mentors who I know put a lot of their own time into these projects as well.

YouthCast will only be taking a brief a hiatus though, before your new party host, Emily Corwin, takes over on November 2nd. If you want to keep track of my antics, follow me on Twitter. Shh! It's my personal account, @mollyelena.

Interview with a Grandfather by Chelsey Russell of Youth Radio Vermont

October 10, 2011 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

As I've learned about and experienced drug and alcohol addiction and recovery through people who are close to me, it's been a struggle for me to understand why people just can't stop. There's a conflict between what I understand to be a personal responsibility and accepting that an addict is controlled by something outside themselves. It's certainly hard to understand addiction and illness when you yourself don't struggle with it.

In this week's episode, Chelsey Russell interviews her grandfather about his struggle with alcoholism, and the faith he has put in Jesus to help in recover. It is part of a series of honest and serious conversations about the roles that religion plays in young people's lives, from how prayer works itself into the daily life a Muslim girl, how atheism reassures a young man who has struggled with darkness in his life, and the global differences in Christian church culture.


The above photo was taken by Flickr user Efenstor. It is of his or her grandfather and comes with a poignant story about alcoholism. Read it at the photo's page here.



Pizza Time by Alex Malmude for the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies

September 21, 2011 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

So much pizza... Taken by Flickr User rj3

Ah, the mysterious life of a pizza delivery man, finally captured in his natural habitat.  This documentary takes a smooth non-narrated path to tell the story of one man's evening at work, bringing the people what they need. We hop in and out of the car, meet customers, gossip, headbang, talk smack about our co-workers and just have a good time. Language Advisory for casual swearing!


Listen to another more recent feature of Alex Malmude's on TBDRadio, a show on WGXC. In it, a woman talks about her mixed feelings on being able to watch movies or tv whenever she wants.

If you love pizza as much as I do, I recommend visiting this Flickr photoset. If you weren't hungry before, you are now. PIZZA PIZZA PIZZA!

I'll Heal in Time by Jillian Suarez of Radio Rookies

September 8, 2011 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches this week, a lot of people feel a sense of fatigue–some just aren’t interested in looking back. And one of them is 18-year old Jillian Suarez. She’s a member of Radio Rookies, a program at WNYC Radio in New York that teaches young people how to report their own stories for the air. Jillian is one of the 3000 young people who faced perhaps the biggest loss of all on September 11th: the death of a loved one.

As one of those who has trouble looking back ten years ago, I enjoyed this series of photos curated by The Atlantic. The pictures are from around the world and were all taken in the week leading up to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. It shows how much our world has changed, how much it has remained the same, and proves that we will always, always be moving forward in life.
Our music from almost every episode can be found on the Free Music Archive. Today's sounds:
Run by Big Blood / CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 and Vow by Julianna Barwick / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0