Remembering Barbara Jean by Patrick Presby of Blunt Youth Radio

June 15, 2011 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

The Blunt Youth Radio Project in Portland, Maine also includes a program at the Long Creek Youth Development Center, a juvenile detention facility. This program helps with literacy skills, computer skills, and is also– shhh!– a fun extracurricular for the students. The features are usually personal essays geared toward helping the writers in their rehabilitation, or they cover an aspect of detained life. One of the most famous Long Creek stories, "What's In the Food?" was actually featured on This American Life.
This essay is by Patrick Presby. Pat remembers his step-mother, Barbara Jean, from the first time they met, to the last time he saw her. Though the 11 years in between were sometimes hard for Patrick – including a turn to juvenile crime – he remembers the care she gave him, and her incredible capacity to forgive.
Today, Patrick is doing well and is a proud father to his son.  He lives in Gray, Maine. Read a really nice profile about him and other students doing work in the Dominican Republic in the Portland Press Herald, where the above photo is from. Listen to some more work by Long Creek kids on PRX.
Songs in this episode are on the album Celadon by Macaw / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

From New Orleans to New England by Emily LaFond of Blunt Youth Radio

January 12, 2011 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

Today is the one year anniversary of the earthquake in Haiti that has claimed somewhere over 200,000 lives. 2010 also saw the Pakistan floods, which left over 20 million people without homes. The beginning of 2011 has now also seen a lot of pain and sorrow, both from people-made violence and natural disasters.

It takes both the land and its inhabitants decades to recover from a natural disaster and the YouthCast feature this week was made five years ago, in response to the recovery from Hurricane Katrina.

Tyrel and Tevin Wooten lived their whole lives in the Algiers neighborhood of New Orleans. For two weeks after Hurricane Katrina, the Wooten family was constantly threatened. Police pointed guns at their step-father, Patrick. Looters broke into the family home. They lived without power in 120 degree heat. Finally, authorities picked the family up and put them on a plane. Thirty minutes into the flight, the pilot announced their destination: Otis Air Force Base on Cape Cod. Randomly relocated to a much colder, much more rural area, the Wootens decided to put down roots in Massachusetts.

This non-linear and non-narrated piece is called “From New Orleans to New England” by Emily LaFond of the Blunt Youth Radio Project. A reviewer on PRX suggests that its structure mimics qoute the disjointed and utter confusion that came as a result of Hurricane Katrina. See for yourself!


On the image above: A Mess in Louisiana after Hurricane Katrina via News Muse on Flickr

Some more youth-produced stories about overcoming problems after a natural disaster

Intro music in this week's episode is "So Smooth" by Deal The Villain / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Outro music is "Faith's Witness" also by Deal The Villain / CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

Homelessness: It Could Happen to Anyone, Even My Dad by Iris SanGiovanni of Blunt Youth Radio

August 25, 2010 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

Iris and her father, Robert

When Blunt Youth Radio member Iris SanGiovanni was eight years old, her dad became homeless for six months after her parents divorced. A few years later, she had the chance to talk with him about his experience.

This conversation exposes the myths and stereotypes that we have about homeless people. Iris even realizes after talking to her dad how much of the advice that he gave her came from his experience. After listening to this, I had to take a moment and reflect on my own life and I felt grateful for what I had. So thank you, Iris and Robert SanGiovanni, for sharing this story with such a large audience.

The Maine Association of Broadcasters awarded Iris's reporting first place in its radio features category, and this was not a special youth category. This was for the whole state of Maine! So congratulations Iris for representing the kind of thoughtful writing and stories that young people are making!



I gave Iris a call while she was at a meeting for Blunt. She told me about her new expectations for herself after creating an award-winning piece at the age of 14 and her new perspectives on family after interviewing her father.

(Listen to the interview!)

Music in this podcast was provided by the Free Music Archive. The intro is called Ringtones by (Xiu Xiu) / CC BY-NC 3.0. The outro is called Hot Brick by CAVE.

The All-American Cambodian by Chandra Touch of Blunt Youth Radio

September 8, 2009 in Youthcast by Molly Adams

PSU spirit
Chandra Touch, bottom row and fourth from the left, Captain of Plymouth State University's spirit squad.

We all do things our parents wouldn't approve of. For Chandra Touch, one of those things was the most normal activity an American girl can do: be a cheerleader. Chandra's mom grew up in Cambodia, so cheerleading seemed like a risque activity to her. Chandra turned the mic on her mom and on herself to gain some perspective.


This piece was produced for Blunt Youth Radio in Portland, Maine (my radio alma mater! woot woot!) with help from Youth Radio in California. More about Blunt: High school age youth from the Portland area, both free and incarcerated, staff a live call-in talk radio show. It is almost entirely youth-produced, from guest booking to engineering to production on reports, like this one that Chandra made.

Chandra is currently a third year student at Plymouth State University. She is a Social Work major with a minor in Psychology. I snagged her through email, since class has now started and everyone is busybusybusy.

You made this piece two years ago. How has it come back to "haunt" you?

Recently I was volunteering at MIT for the Terrascope Youth Radio Program and was searching for this particular piece online. I came across multiple websites that had featured my piece and it had listeners post comments. I read the comments and realized that I was not alone. My piece had reached out to many listeners who understood and could relate to the culture clash that my mother and I had. As a young Asian American I remind myself everyday that although I was brought up a bit different from most of my friends; I am still the one who lives my life.

Have these issues with your mom, her being skeptical of your choice, remained as you've gone to college?

Of course it has, my mother is a hard headed person, as am I. She still reminds me how much life would be easier at home. Especially this year because I had just got my own off-campus apartment and this summer my income wasn't so great so I came to school with nothing and am stressing about how I will pay for $948 for books this semester.

Is she coping with everything on her own?

She has always been an independent woman but like every person she needs support and someone to tell her that everything is going to be OK. She has had her occasional break downs and cries for me to come back and help her and offers me multiple scenarios to the better college life but she is a strong woman and has always been capable of being on her own. She has been since she was sixteen.

Do you still cheerlead?

Yes, I do. I was Captain last season and was also the Head Coach for New Found Regional High School Varsity Cheerleading Team but here in New Hampshire they call cheering "Spirit."

How has talking about yourself and your family in the media changed how you look at yourself and your family?

This piece has definitely been a reflection piece of my life past, present, and future. It makes me think back to when I was just a senior in high school uncertain of my future as a first generation Asian American. Do I stay home and help out the family or do I venture out of my four walls and leave what I know? I look back and listen to this piece and I know through all the disagreements and the stress that I have caused my mother by leaving her, she is proud of me not matter what.

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I grabbed that marching band music from, a pretty nifty website for at-home-producers. It was recorded by user daveincamas.