Kaari Pitkin is the Senior Producer of Radio Rookies, WNYC's Peabody award-winning youth journalism program that teaches high school student to report and produce radio documentaries inspired by their own experiences.
Since assuming the role of Senior Producer in 2006, Pitkin has worked to expand the scope and impact of the program to include multi-media storytelling and training educators how to use youth-produced content in the classroom. Radio Rookies also continues to work with teenagers across New York City in small workshops designed to teach them how to report stories in their own lives and communities. The program is known for its highly produced and sound rich portraits of life for teenagers in NYC today and, under Pitkin's leadership, has been recognized by the Robert F. Kennedy Award for Journalism, the National Edward R. Murrow Awards, the Society for Professional Journalists and the Alfred I. Dupont-Columbia Awards. Pitkin is responsible for overseeing the program, including fundraising efforts, new initiatives, and partnerships.
Before moving to Radio Rookies, Pitkin worked as a producer in WNYC's newsroom for eight years, where she played an integral part of the station's efforts to cover September 11th, 2001. In advance of the ten year anniversary, she produced an hour-long documentary "Our 9/11" by Radio Rookies whose lives had been changed by the attacks. Pitkin is passionate about both producing interesting and compelling content, as well as helping the Radio Rookies develop as young people. She lives in New Haven, CT with her husband and two small children.
At the 3rd Annual NYC Digital Waves Youth Media Festival: NewsHive @ St. Joseph's College youth came together to produce, report, and make their own stories in just 10 hours.
After the death of Osama Bin Laden, young people took to the streets in droves to celebrate and a lot of discussion ensued in the media about a "9/11 Generation", the young people who came of age after the attacks. Brendan was a first-grader in suburban New Jersey on September 11th, 2001, and he has only vague memories of that day. Even so, he feels shaped by the events and their aftermath and hopes to join the military. His younger siblings, who don't remember 9/11, feel little connection to it. Brendan reports on whether or not his peers and younger siblings feel that 9/11 impacted their world view.
One of the questions I’ve been asked most by adults when they hear that I produce Radio Rookies is “why do teenagers always want to tell personal stories?” My initial reaction is to feel defensive and even a bit dismissive of the point (on behalf of the Rookies themselves and the program), but of course it is a legitimate question. Why are Rookies stories so often personal in nature? Why not encourage them to reach far and wide for their stories, just as professional journalists must do for theirs?
Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of Radio Rookies, two former rookies, Jesus Gonzalez, Youth Power community organizer for Make the Road By Walking, and Veralyn Williams, freelance TV, radio producer, reporter, and editor, share excerpts of their pieces and discuss how the program affected their lives.
This Friday (7/10), tune in to WNYC at 2pm to AM820 or on Saturday (7/11) at 4pm on 93.9FM to hear 'Growing Up, Getting By', the first ever Radio Rookies Hour special. We revisit some stories from the past ten years, and host Marianne McCune checks in with some of them to find out what happened next.
Defining a great story or angle for a topic is one of the trickiest moments in the Radio Rookies workshop. The Rookie has to find a story idea that will capture her attention for six months, a topic that will have meaning to a greater audience. Sometimes the perfect story idea jumps out during the first day of workshop, but usually the process takes building trust, several conversations, and reflection to find the perfect story idea.
Last night was the kind of evening when most people want to curl up under a blanket watch the latest episode of 106 & Park or 30 Rock. With temperatures in the lower teens, I wondered how many of the new Radio Rookies would make the 1.5 hour trek from their neighborhood down to Soho to visit WNYC Radio for the first time.
Radio Rookies works with teenagers to create documentary stories about the things that matter most to them. We hold 6-month long workshops around New York City's five boroughs, teaching young people how to do interviews, record sounds, and structure a story that, ultimately, will air onWNYC . The Radio Rookies Blog is a place for program staff and participants to take you behind the scenes, to give you a chance to get to know us better, and to hear what's on the Rookies' minds.