This fall, we began a new broadcast workshop in Flushing, Queens in partnership with the Flushing YMCA. During the past month, the Rookies have started to roll through their lessons, putting their new skills to practice. They are well on their way to making their radio documentaries.
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?
One of the Rookies asked me 'why is it that we have to throw the party on a brick cold day?' But, despite the arctic temperature and the wind chill factor Rookies from past and present showed up. We all came together and celebrated being a part of the Rookies family for the past 10 years and looking ahead to many more years.
I felt like such a hypocrite. Here I am in Queens, challenging the teens to find a sense of connection to their community, possibly eradicate their assumptions, and change their views about the place, while I think to myself 'me? Start a radio workshop in Queens? How dreadful! Love the kids, just not Queens - it's my least favorite borough.' Come on! Can Queens really be anyone's favorite borough? But after the 5 weeks long workshop, these kids and their stories about flushing made me reevaluate.
The third round of Short Wave Rookies comes from Queens, NY. We collaborated with Mapping Main Street, a documentary project that set out to tell the stories of all the Main Streets in the United States.
WNYC’s Radio Rookies program takes listeners inside the most intimate moments of teenager’s lives. Now, for the first time, we present a special, “Growing Up, Getting By”, an hour of stories and interviews about how teenagers find their way to adulthood.
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.
I’d sometimes sit at home on my bed during a humid muggy Sunday afternoon flipping through channels. I’d land on a baseball game. Little figures would run across the screen throwing a ball around, running from one base to another, a ball went high in the air, the crowed screamed, what did this mean? What’s the significance of this? I’d grow tired of watching and turn off the TV.
At a first glance, Ditmas Junior High School (IS 62) was a safe space, something I could never say about my junior high (and yes I was a bit jealous). The security guards that greeted Kaddeem Wright and I seemed laid back and respectful (more than the ones at my old junior high) and the kids that we passed in the hallways seemed happy and at home.
During my workshop in the fall of 2004, we got microphones I thought resembled giant lollipops. I was always afraid I'd stick its head near the interviewee's mouth too fast and vigorously causing a bruised lip or a chipped tooth. I'd have to plead for mercy in an emergency room amidst wailing ambulance sirens and explain that I was only trying to complete an assignment for my radio workshop. Thankfully, this never happened.
When Kaari, Sanda and I walk into the Next Generation Center, the home of our current Bronx workshop, it's like walking into a house party. Hip hop and rap deejayed by kids from the center thumps just a little too loud. I keep thinking some adult is going to put the kabosh on this, but they don't seem phased.
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.