|© UNICEF video|
|Rocky Taleh, 19, from New York took part in the WNYC Radio Rookies programme and says it changed his life.|
By Karen Cirillo
Media Magic Digest, a multimedia newsletter produced by UNICEF’s Voices of Youth programme and the International Children’s Day of Broadcasting, profiles successful youth media projects that help children speak out. This is the story of one such project in New York.
NEW YORK, USA, 15 March 2007 – A producer speaks into the microphone, conveying a personal story that will soon air on the radio. His is not the voice of a traditional reporter. It is the voice of a teenager.
Coverage of youth in the media rarely represents what young people are truly facing, thinking and saying. But a group of teenagers in New York City are actively changing that. They’re part of Radio Rookies, a youth journalism programme at New York public radio station WNYC that provides teenagers with the tools, training and mentors to create stories about themselves, their communities and global issues.
“It was a programme that changed my life,” says Rocky Taleh, 19, a Radio Rookie. “It just showed me that I have a voice and my voice is powerful. It showed me if you know how to use it, you can really make a change.”
Future radio professionals
Since 1999, Radio Rookies has been conducting one or two free workshops a year, mostly in New York’s inner city neighbourhoods and immigrant communities. The workshops, which run between four and eight months in length, provide all the equipment and instruction needed to train young people in radio journalism. The aspiring reporters learn how to conduct an interview, develop a story, craft a script and digitally edit their audio.
Each Rookie is also paired with a volunteer mentor – a professional journalist who gives the teenager guidance outside the workshop. The mentors take their Rookies on field trips, such as visits to professional broadcast facilities, to help develop the teens’ journalistic and educational interests.
Some of the mentors are themselves alumni of the Rookies programme, demonstrating its success in laying the groundwork for future radio professionals.
Speaking their minds
The Rookies’ completed pieces are broadcast on WNYC, where they are heard by over 1 million weekly listeners and many more online.
“In a city where more than 2.1 million residents are under the age of 20, WNYC believes it is critical that we hear how these young citizens are experiencing the world,” says WNYC President and CEO Laura Walker.
Radio Rookies is a great opportunity for youths to speak their minds and for people all over New York – and around the world – to get a glimpse into their lives.
You can listen to Radio Rookies stories online at www.wnyc.org/radiorookies.
Radio Rookies graduate Veralynn Williams, 21, talks about radio documentaries she has produced and how the training programme changed her life.