(April 5, 2006, New York, NY) — WNYC, New York Public Radio®'s youth journalism program Radio Rookies has been recognized with a George Foster Peabody Award for broadcast excellence in 2005. Peabody judges said of the series: "Teenaged reporters pick up microphones and let down their guards in this series of remarkably immediate and illuminating first-person dispatches."
Radio Rookies provides teenagers with the tools and training to create radio documentaries about themselves and their communities. Since 1999, WNYC has conducted Radio Rookies workshops across New York, in predominantly under-resourced neighborhoods, training young people to use words and sounds to produce stories that open windows into worlds rarely represented authentically in the media. Upon completion, the Rookies' documentaries are broadcast to WNYC's 1.2 million weekly listeners, usually during the local edition of NPR's Morning Edition, but also have been heard on NPR's All Things Considered and PRI's This American Life.
The 2005 Rookie reporters hailed from the Bronx and reported stories that were challenging to tell, often revealing some of the most intimate and vulnerable aspects of their lives. Nineteen-year-old Veralyn Williams, who was born in Sierra Leone, took personal risks to report on her immigration status, despite strong objections from her family. 16-year-old Catalina Puente also courageously reported on her romantic obsession with another female student, coming out to her father in the process. And Derrick Hewitt examined his own tendencies towards violence, telling a very disturbing, yet honest, story. All Radio Rookies documentaries can be heard at http://www.wnyc.org/radiorookies/.
"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," said Laura Walker, president and CEO of WNYC. "We are so proud of the young people who become Rookies and share with us a view into their ambitions, their enthusiasms, their fears and their dreams. We are gratified the Peabody has recognized these gutsy, heartfelt documentaries as the tenacious journalistic features they are."
John Keefe, WNYC Executive Producer for News and Information, said, "Radio Rookies helps our newsroom to reach beyond headlines and statistics and find the real life stories that animate our city. The Rookies' stories represent not only the voices of New York's many diverse communities and neighborhoods, but they also represent the hope for journalism's future."
"The Rookies never cease to amaze with their fearlessness and their ability to talk about subjects and events that are taboo or invisible," said former Radio Rookies senior producer Czerina Patel, who oversaw the winning workshop. "These young reporters break through society's silence and tell the raw truth in ways that seasoned reporters do not, often putting themselves and their relationships with their families on the line. It is that overwhelming courage that makes what they have to say so enlightening to listen to, and that makes us so very proud of what they have done."
The winners of the 65th Annual Peabody Awards were announced today by the University of Georgia's Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. The Peabody Award is among the most prestigious awards for broadcasting and cable excellence, and given solely on merit rather than within designated categories. The awards will be presented in June at a luncheon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York.
Radio Rookies is produced by WNYC Radio and is supported by grants from Con Edison, Fred L. Emerson Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Open Society Institute, Helena Rubenstein Foundation, Surdna Foundation, Time Warner, and the Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
WNYC, New York Public Radio, is New York's premier public radio station, comprising WNYC 93.9 FM and WNYC AM 820. As America's most listened-to public radio stations, reaching more than one million listeners every week, WNYC FM and AM extend New York City's cultural riches to the entire country and air the best national offerings from affiliate networks National Public Radio® and Public Radio International®. WNYC 93.9 FM broadcasts a wide range of daily news, talk, cultural and classical music programming, while WNYC AM 820 maintains a stronger focus on breaking news and international news reporting. For more information, visit www.wnyc.org.