The GPRX Blog: The best of youth-produced radio, curated by our Editorial Board
For those of us still creating youth media, the 10 years the U.S. spent in Iraq has lasted for a huge chunk of our lives. We've all been affected, one way or another, by the political decisions of the Bush years, and the lasting impression on the Obama administration. It's hard for people our age to cover these issues — not just because we can't hop on a flight to Baghdad, grab a fixer, and stick a microphone in someone's face, but because it's just hard to cover war in the first place. Part of our job is to identify conflict and present both sides, but things get much more complicated on a geopolitical scale, and without much prior experience. But it's still important that youth producers give it a try — and that's what WNR does in this piece.
It's difficult to commemorate an anniversary like this and try to cover a decade in half an hour. 10 years is a long time, and a lot has happened in the US, Iraq, and the Middle East since 2003. Regardless, WNR managed to revisit a variety of issues in their broadcast, with lots of voices that many of us wouldn't otherwise hear – doctors, humanitarian workers, and Iraqis. The most compelling portions of the piece were the reports of human rights abuses, and the stories of the doctors — it's always interesting to hear from people with boots on the ground, and how the rest of the world reacted to their experiences.
Though the classic "I told you so," does less good today in the case of the humanitarian crisis, the fact that a generation of reporters are aware of these canary in the coal mine situations is extremely valuable for future international reporting. What kinds of things are we hearing out of Syria? Egypt? Afghanistan and Iraq? I'm sure this reporting experience not only gave War News Radio some good lessons in finding sources and working through the tough spots, but also gave them a passion for issues-based reporting on an international scale. I have no doubt that given more resources, this team could very easily produce some of the most unique and much-needed reporting that others in our generation can connect to. They've already opened my eyes to a handful of stories I wasn't hearing from a decade of reporting, and I'd like to hear more. It's been 10 years, but this isn't the last thing we're going to hear out of Iraq.
This piece about growing up transgendered is just the kind of thing the youth media landscape needs — peers talking to their peers about their part in big news. Not just because Cayden's story itself is big news — in fact, to his family this transition was just a matter of time — but because it's ordinary news that makes big issues easier to understand. It's a microcosm of a larger community that people would be well served to get to know better. Stories like this from CNN, or this from the LA times, or this from MTV, are probably just the beginning of decades of coverage on transgender issues. If we have an upcoming generation of reporters who can handle stories like Cayden's with creativity and earnestness, then I'm excited for more coverage of transgender life down the road. These kinds of stories deserve continuous noise in the new media landscape.
A great story that cracks the door open on the reality of transition inside a family – from kid to young adult, and from girl to boy. I could easily picture Cayden's room, his smile, his childhood; but also his transition – injecting himself with testosterone, standing in front of a mirror dreaming of a mustache, and playing Ken.
This story has a good use of scene setting and clip choice, with easy flowing writing and fantastic audio quality. My only gripes are that the story got a bit wordy around the 4 minute mark and lost the charm of Cayden's everyday life. If Nina could have talked to Cayden's doctor, Dad, teacher, therapist, or "showed" us instead of "telling," this story would have been darn near perfect. This is a very solid, longer form, human-driven piece that would fit nicely into a sexuality, youth focused, or gender issues programming. A great exploration of an under-covered topic. It's well worth a listen (and maybe a re-listen).
"Twilight and other movies are just fantasies…you have to wake up in order to find love." — Jaya Montague, "What Twilight Didn't Teach Me About Love" from Philly Youth Radio
For the month of Valentine's Day, Philly Youth Radio offers three totally different reflections on love in their awesome new series, "At the Heart, from the Heart." See the promo video (for radio! We love it!) and hear the pieces below.
From Looking@Democracy. Submissions due April 30th, 2013. Throw your hat in the ring!
The Looking@Democracy challenge is offering a total of $100,000 in prize money for short, provocative media submissions designed to spark a national conversation about how we can all come together to strengthen American democracy. Here’s how the competition works:
Create and send us short digital media content that either:
(a) Tells a story about why government is important to our lives, or
(b) Tells how we might together strengthen American democracy.
Your submission can come in many formats such as short videos, audio stories, animation, music videos, public service announcements, infographics, graphic art, even Facebook and iPhone apps. They all just need to be digital so they can be shared electronically– the rest is up to YOU!
The story starts off right, with great voice work by Temitayo Fagbenle and use of sound, mixing today's media hungry landscape with Hester Prynne's literary reality. It's a bold statement to say that online slut-shaming is the new Scarlet Letter, but given the prevalence of these pictures and the response they get from peers — it's a title that isn't far from the truth.
Fearless with the use of words that many would shy away from – slut, ho, hussy — the producer gets right to the crux of the issue. There's some great mixing here, not only technically, but in the way the producer mixed her own experience into the story without hesitation. It's obvious she is young, immersed in this world, and only a little ambivalent about what's happening in it — "maybe I should report it…" The personal side of this story is not too intrusive, and helps listeners relate. Not once did I feel dictated to, instead I felt like I was getting educated. This story lacks statistics and the nuts and bolts of a “reporter piece,” but effectively shines light on many sides of this issue without losing listener interest. The prevalence of social media in spreading information (approved and unapproved), the nature of girl-on-girl abusive gossip, and what little power victims of sexual cyber bullying have over their own online reputation are all addressed. This piece would fit perfectly into any series on technology, privacy, or web-crime.
Seamless scene transitions and conversational tone give authority to Temitayo's commentary on a very pressing issue. When I first read the title, I immediately thought of the Steubenville rape case, where pictures and videos of a drunk, naked teenage girl spread through text and Twitter. Though an obvious crime, law enforcement is still having trouble pinning down who is guilty of what. The blame game is hard to play, when thousands of potential viewers can access private information at the click of a button, delete their history, or just sit by without reporting. I was glad to see the producer not only focused on the way young women talk about their classmates, but the way that young men, families, schools and social media sites react to the spread of these images. There's a lot of issues that generation "i" will have to deal with, but privacy issues will certainly be near the top of that list, and this story is just a piece of the puzzle — but a nicely crafted one.
Have there been moments in your life when you came to a fork in the road?
On the 50th anniversary of Robert Frost's death, Chicagoans recite Frost's most famous poem and discuss their own paths taken, and not. From the brilliant producers at Curie Youth Radio.
From heartbreak, to ice cream to immigration, over 450 new youth-produced stories were added to the PRX catalog in 2012. This year also brought some of the best youth radio stories we've heard, which made creating our Best Youth-Made Radio Stories of 2012 Playlist more difficult (and fun) than ever.
Hear this remarkable collection of honest, well-produced, and original stories. Big ups to the youth radio groups on the playlist!:
- Louder Than A Bomb 2012, Chicago, IL
- RadioActive, Seattle, WA
- Philly Youth Radio, PA
- Deep in the Heart, a Project of Texas Folklife Center, Austin, TX
- City High Radio, Tucson, AZ
- Alaska Teen Media Institute, Anchorage, AK
- Zumix Radio, Boston, MA
- Youth Media Project, Santa Fe, NM
- Outloud Radio, San Francisco, CA
- Youth Radio, Oakland, CA
- Blunt Youth Radio Project, Portland, ME
- Radio Rookies, New York, NY
- Open Orchard Productions, Los Angeles, CA
- Terrascope Youth Radio, Cambridge, MA
- Youth Spin, Austin, TX
- Free Spirit Youth Media, Chicago, IL
Nineteen-year-old Brenda from Minneapolis, Minnesota considers herself an American citizen, but to the US government she is an illegal immigrant. Coming to the US when she was seven, she was carried over the Mexican-American border by her mother. Now, twelve years later, she lives with her mother, stepfather, sister, little brother, older brother and his son. She had to quit school a month before graduating so she could work to help support her family, but has since gone back to finish her education and wants to go on to get a job working with children.
This was a well-crafted and interesting piece, with great interviews and an inspiring story. The only problem I had was after the mother’s interview; it was a little confusing, but it made more since later on in the story. All in all, though, I found this to be an excellent presentation.