Since 1992, Youth Radio has been an outlet for young people to find their own voices and tell their own stories through media. In Drop that Knowledge: Youth Radio Stories, Elisabeth Soep and Vivian Chavez explore the process of writing and producing these stories, which air on major outlets like NPR and KQED, and the meaning of bringing underrepresented voices to a wide audience.
The challenge for any journalist, write Soep and Chavez, is to “unbury the lede”—to find the unifying point or idea in a story, and to tell it in a way that speaks to the intended audience. Through classic Youth Radio stories, they illustrate how young journalists navigate this terrain, and frame personal experience in an engaging and meaningful narrative.
Telling your story to the world can be life-changing, but it’s not all there is, says Soep in this KALW Crosscurrents interview. She describes how Youth Radio goes beyond cultivating personal expression to promote media literacy and support youth in other ways, like providing access to health care and career counseling.
Youth Radio has won a Peabody and other awards, and its reporters have produced many influential investigative stories, but Drop That Knowledge is more than a celebration of success, says Soep: “Youth voice, to me, is never the answer. It’s the place where we start asking questions…It’s the place we start hearing questions, and engaging in conversations that young people can shape and drive and move forward.”
With the nature of media changing faster than ever before, young people have more opportunities than ever to reach a wide audience. This makes organizations like Youth Radio even more important, says Soep, to give young journalists the skills and the power not only to find their voice and tell their stories, but to get people to listen.
Youth Media’s success has implications beyond the newsroom. In this Edutopia article, Soep opens up a larger conversation about how to bring Youth Radio’s lessons into schools, with a guide to writing radio commentary.
In this Boing Boing article, Soep looks at how playwright Chinaka Hodge is using social media to invite her audience into the lives of the characters in her play, Mirrors in Every Corner, and explores the possibilities of this innovative approach to theater.