Kaari Pitkin

Senior Producer, Radio Rookies

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.

Kaari Pitkin appears in the following:

Remembering Keith Tingman Jr.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

It’s with deep sadness I’m writing this post. Radio Rookies has lost a valued member of our community. Former Rookie Reporter Keith Tingman died on February 12. We remember him here.
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Comments [3]

Eyes Off the Goal: When Sports Rule and School Suffers

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fresh grass. Freedom. Success. That was the sensation Edward Munoz experienced every time he walked onto a soccer field. But in school, he felt like he wasn’t meant to be there.

Comments [6]

Tough to the Corps: Teen Girl Wants to Join Marines

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Cece Rodriguez may be tiny at 5 ’4”, 100 lbs, but she’s physically strong. Despite her family’s concerns, she dreams of testing her toughness by enlisting in the U.S. Marines.

Comments [2]

Nine People, One Bedroom: A Teen's Take on Life In Poverty

Monday, September 22, 2014

Jairo Gomez's nine-person family lives in a one-bedroom apartment. He knows education is the way out of poverty, but sometimes being poor makes it difficult to make good choices.

Comments [23]

NYC Student Tackles the Last Test Standing Between Her and a High School Diploma

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


Danielle Motindabeka has overcome incredible odds to succeed in the United States - she has learned English, made a home here and is trying very hard to graduate high school. And the last test she needs is one she's failed three times already.

Comments [24]

Father's Day from Radio Rookies: Trying to Do it Right and Not Repeat a Father's Mistakes

Friday, June 13, 2014

When people think about teen parents, they usually picture a young mom. But what about the dads?

Comments [22]

Teens are Losing More Sleep Than Ever

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

That most teenagers are walking around sleep deprived won't come as a shock to parents or teachers. Radio Rookie Temitayo Fagbenle got her friends to share why they aren't sleeping and what, exactly, they're doing during those late-night hours.

Comments [6]

Why Is Staten Island NYC's OD Capital?

Wednesday, February 05, 2014


In New York City, prescription painkiller abuse rates aren't as high as the rest of the country — except on Staten Island, where their impact is wide and deep.

Comments [4]

Teens Report from Popup Newsroom, from Mayor's Race to City's Problems

Thursday, October 31, 2013

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.


The Last To Remember

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Brendan was a first-grader on September 11th, 2001. Brendan reports on whether or not his peers and younger siblings feel that 9/11 impacted their world view.

10 Years In: Why All The Personal Stories?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

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?

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Rookies Anniversary

Monday, November 09, 2009

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.

Comments [6]

Coming Soon to a Radio Near You

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

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.

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It's Tough To Find a Story Idea

Thursday, February 26, 2009

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.

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A Cold Night to Leave the Bronx

Thursday, February 26, 2009

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.

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About the Radio Rookies Blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

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.

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Comments [1]

New Treatment for Opiate Abuse

Monday, August 04, 2003

New York City is the heroin capital of the United States: an estimated 200,000 opiate users live here. Until this year, treatment options for opiate addicts were limited - you could either detox off drugs or go to a methadone clinic. Now, there is another ...


Betsy Gotbaum Wins Public Advocate

Friday, October 12, 2001

She won't face a Republican in the general election. WNYC's Kaari Pitkin explains.


The Public Advocate Hopefuls

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Since 1994, the office has been defined by the often antagonistic relationship between the current Public Advocate Mark Green and Mayor Giuliani. With Mr. Green's departure and a new incoming mayor, the office is destined to change. WNYC’s Kaari Pitkin has this report on the ...


Crown Heights Remembered

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

Ten years ago tomorrow the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights erupted into violence, as the area's black and Jewish residents clashed with the police and each other. WNYC recently spoke with Crown Heights residents, community leaders, and city officia