The Desert, My Mom, and Me, by Trenton Good of City High Radio

May 31, 2012 in Youthcast by Emily

I might as well get out with it — this is my last podcast for Youthcast. Two and a half weeks ago I packed up my stuff and moved from Boston, MA to Concord, NH, in order to report on NH economics for NPR's StateImpact project. The piece we're featuring today — by City High Radio's Trenton Good — is my favorite youthcast piece yet. In fact, I've been saving it up for over a month now, in order to end with a bang.

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Let me tell you why this piece was so important to me. See — I was the kid who wanted to get good grades in grade school, so that I'd be prepared for high school, so that I'd be prepared for college, so I'd be prepared to get my dream job, so that I'd be prepared to have a family. The lesson I've been learning for the last 10 years is that you can't spend all your time preparing for the future — because who you are and what you want today will probably not be the same by the time that future comes around.

But some habits are hard to break. When I'm working on a radio story and the punch line I had prepared for doesn't materialize, I'm likely to bang my head against the wall for a good week before I look around enough to find another door.

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Trenton Good is my exact opposite — not just because he's more likely to be enjoying the outdoors than doing homework. Trenton made this radio story by being open to inspiration. And he made it great by letting the moment guide him.

It all started when Trent skipped school. He had a radio assignment that wasn't going anywhere, and after his radio teacher, Sarah Bromer, asked him why he skipped school the next day, they threw out the old assignment and dove into the story that was right in front of them. Why had Trent skipped school that day?

But it doesn't end there. Instead of sitting down and writing a script the way most radio producers do, Trent started out just telling his story into the microphone. Then, he used that very real version of his story to shape a script that had the pieces he liked, and sounded authentic. More authentic, surely, than a script would be that was typed first and recorded later.

Trent is a natural at living in the moment. His lesson is like my lesson, but in reverse. Trent told me that producing this piece taught him that he does need to try in school, no matter how much he doesn't like it, because he needs to be prepared for college, so that he can be prepared to get a job he likes.

But I don't want to get carried away with didactic life lessons. The reason you should listen to Trent's piece is to enjoy his creative, introspective honesty. It's not something you hear from a 16 year old everyday.

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Check back right here for the next Youthcast! And keep in touch on Twitter, Facebook, or by leaving a comment right here. While we're gone, listen to HowSound, the backstory to great radio storytelling. And thanks for listening!

View from Tumamoc Hill was shot by Trenton Good. Image of Trenton was shot by Sarah Bromer.