Radio Rookies Stories


Radio Rookies Workshops

Since 1999, Radio Rookies has been conducting workshops at partnering organizations across all five boroughs New York, training young people to report on their lives and communities. During these 6-9-month-long workshops Radio Rookies learn the basics of radio journalism: from how to conduct an interview and develop a story to how to craft a script and digitally edit their audio.



West Brooklyn (2014)

West Brooklyn 2014

A group of students at West Brooklyn Community High School reported stories for a Radio Rookies partnership with SchoolBook, Educating on the Edge. Their stories bring listeners inside the real lives of those directly impacted by the drop out crisis.

McBurney YMCA (2012)

McBurney YMCA 2012

The 2012 Radio Rookies Manhattan broadcast workshop was held in partnership with the McBurney YMCA on 14th Street in Manhattan. The Rookies' stories explored topics ranging from the immigration experience, to living with sickle cell disease, to the sexual harassment of teen girls on social media sites. 

9/11 (2011)

To mark the 10th anniversary of September 11th, Radio Rookies partnered with the 9/11 Memorial and Museum to share the stories of six young people from New York City, New Jersey and Long Island who are part of the last generation of young people who remember 9/11 as a lived experience, rather than a historic event. These stories won a National Edward R. Murrow Award, got Special Mention in the New York State AP Awards, the Dart Award for Excellence in Reporting on Trauma, and a Sigma Delta Chi Award.

St. George (2011)

St. George (2011)

For the 2011 Staten Island broadcast workshop we partnered with the Seamen's Society for Children and Families in St. George, the neighborhood closest to the Ferry Terminal. The Rookies reported stories on everything from surviving Facebook drama to life in the foster care system to coming out as gay in the age of Lady Gaga. Their stories were awarded the Casey Medal, a New York State AP Award, a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award, an Adobe Aspire Award and an Alfred I. duPont Finalist award.

Flushing (2010)

Flushing (2010)

The 2010 Radio Rookies Queens broadcast workshop was in partnership with the Flushing YMCA. The Queens Rookies reported stories about everything from gangs in schools, to what it’s like to have your dad deployed in Afghanistan, to being an online girl gamer. These stories received two PRNDI Awards, two NABJ Awards, a NY State Broadcasters Association Award, the United Nations Department of Public Information gold award, a New York Festivals International Radio Award, a NY State AP Broadcasters Association Award and a Gabriel Award.

East Crotona Park (2009)

East Crotona Park

This Bronx Radio Rookies workshop was in partnership with the Next Generation Center, a fantastic multi-service youth drop-in center run by the Children's Aid Society. The Bronx Rookies worked hard to tell stories ranging from the lasting effects of Chernobyl to poverty in the Bronx, to having your parents incarcerated. Their stories were awarded the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for Public Service in Radio Journalism, a Gracie Award, a National Edward R. Murrow Award were a finalist for an NABJ Award.

Crown Heights (2008)

The Radio Rookies Brooklyn broadcast workshop was held in partnership with the High School for Global Citizenship (HSGC) in Crown Heights. The Rookies stories explore topics ranging from why parents work so much, to child abuse, to learning how to read in high school. These stories were honored with the inaugural America's Promise Alliance Journalism Award, an NABJ Award, the Casey Medal and a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award.

Soho (2008)


For our second Manhattan workshop, Radio Rookies partnered with The Door in lower Manhattan, a multi-service youth agency that serves 8,000 teens each year. The Rookies traveled to The Door from different neighborhoods across New York for the opportunity to create radio documentaries. These stories were awarded the New York Festivals Gold Award, the Casey Medal and the Third Coast International Audio Festival's Silver Award for Best Documentary.

New Brighton (2007)

New Brighton

The New Brighton, Staten Island workshop was held in collaboration with Eye Openers, a youth anti-violence program started by Project Hospitality. All six of the Rookies were active in Eye Openers as outspoken youth leaders fighting for immigrant rights and against violence. These stories won both a National Edward R. Murrow Award for feature reporting and a Regional Murrow Award for writing.

Elmhurst (2006)


The Elmhurst, Queens workshop was held at SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action). SAYA! is a vibrant nonprofit located in the basement of a church in Elmhurst, Queens. These stories were awarded the National Coming Up Taller Award at a White House Ceremony in recognition of outstanding arts and humanities programs for children.

Mosholu (2004)


The COVE workshop was in the neighborhood of Mosholu in the Bronx. A donated basement, the COVE is also known as "the Kamal Singh Community Center" in memory of Kamal Singh, a teenager who was tragically shot to death. These stories won a George Foster Peabody Award for broadcast excellence and an NABJ Award.

Midwood (2003)


The Council of Pakistan Organization (COPO) hosted a Radio Rookies workshop in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Midwood. COPO was founded in the aftermath of the September 11th attacks, when members of the South Asian community were facing threats. These stories were awarded an Honorable Mention in the Third Coast International Audio Festival, a Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award, the RTNDA/UNITY Award and the South Asian Journalists Association Award.

Lower East Side (2003)

Lower East Side

Radio Rookies' second workshop in Manhattan was held at the Grand Street Settlement, located right under the Williamsburg Bridge in Manhattan's Lower East Side. The Grand Street Settlement provides residents of the LES community with the tools and support they need to overcome challenges and build productive lives and futures. These stories were part of a series that were awarded the Sigma Delta Chi Public Service Award, a RTNDA/UNITY Award, a NFCB Golden Reel Awards and were a runner-up for the Casey Medal.

St. George (2002)

St. George (2001)

Rookies Rookies held this workshop at the Seamen's Society for Children and Families right in downtown St. George. The Seamen's Society provides HIV support and counseling, plus foster care, adoption and domestic violence services. Jaimita Haskell was the youngest person ever honored by the Newspaper Guild's Heywood Broun Award. These stories were also awarded a New York Association of Black Journalists, an NFCB Golden Reel Award, an RTNDA/UNITY Award and won second place for a PRNDI Award.

Flushing (2001)

Flushing (2001)

The 2001 Radio Rookies Queens workshop was held at the YWCA in Flushing, Queens. Radio Rookie Heather Oplinger describes the Y as "a place where you can feel at home." Its mission is to empower women and girls and to eliminate racism. These stories were part of a series that won an NFCB Golden Reel Award, an RTNDA/UNITY Award, the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and the Asian American Journalism Association Award.

Bushwick (2001)

The Bushwick Radio Rookies workshop was held in conjunction with Make the Road by Walking Inc, as organization which promotes organizing and activism. Its youth leadership programs work with high school students to develop their organizing and communication skills, and enable them to become more effective advocates for social justice. These stories won a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award, a National Federation of Community Broadcasters Golden Reel, and the David S. Barr High School Journalism Award.

Hunts Point (2000)

Hunts Point

This Radio Rookies workshop was held at The Point in the Hunts Point area of the South Bronx. The Point is dedicated to youth development and to the cultural and the economic revitalization of Hunts Point. The Radio Rookies workshop was held at the low power radio station at the Point where some of the Hunts Point Rookies host their own radio shows. These stories won a Golden Reel Award, a Hispanic Heritage Youth Award and a silver medal in the Third Coast International Audio Festival.

Harlem (1999)


WNYC and Columbia University joined forces to offer a workshop to a group of Harlem-based teenagers. Students learned to produce radio stories and to take pictures at the Photographic Center of Harlem. The stories from this inaugural workshop were awarded both a NY State AP Broadcasters Association and a New York Press Club Award.




Neighborhood to Neighborhood (Fall 2013)

McBurney YMCA 2012

Our third cohort for our Neighborhood to Neighborhood Project spanned two boroughs. One group came from Facing History and Ourselves in Midtown Manhattan, while another came from West Brooklyn Community High School in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. This spirited group produced a variety of stories about their communities, from co-location to molly, teen pregnancy to bullying. 

Neighborhood to Neighborhood (Spring 2013)

Our second cohort for our Neighborhood to Neighborhood project all hail from two Facing History and Ourselves schools in Manhattan, in the Lower East Side and the East Village. This dynamic group of Rookies from East Side Community High School and Essex Street Academy reported their multimedia stories on sneaker lines, the English language, art and violence, and homophobia.

Neighborhood to Neighborhood (2012)

Neighborhood to Neighborhood

In the spring of 2012, we held two simultaneous workshops in Manhattan and Brooklyn to cover community-focused stories in Crown Heights and the Lower East Side.  Rookies at Vanguard High School and the High School for Global Citizenship reported on everything from policing tactics in public housing, the cell phone ban in schools, to the experience of trying to understand cultural differences in Crown Heights. 

Roosevelt Island (2010)

Short Wave Roosevelt Island

Radio Rookies partnered with the NYC Salt teen photography program to create multimedia stories documenting Roosevelt Island’s Main Street. Many New Yorkers know little about Roosevelt Island besides that the tram takes you there. Over the course of a 6-week intensive workshop, the Short Wave Rookie Reporters found all kinds of fascinating stories on this island that's so close, yet so different from the rest of the city.

Their stories are part of a collaboration with the Mapping Main Street project which aims to collect stories from all of the more than 10,000 streets named Main in the United States.

Flushing (2009)

Short Wave Flushing

The Short Wave students collaborated with the Mapping Main Street project. This project's goal is to try and tell stories related to all the Main Streets in the United States of America. The students from East West School of International Studies, Frank Sinatra High School, and Bryant High School set out in groups to tell the stories surrounding their experience and perspectives on their Main Street community.

Election (2008)

Short Wave Election

Radio Rookies held a month-long Short Wave Workshop in partnership with the Mott Haven Village Prep School in the South Bronx. The students selected topics related to the 2008 presidential election, and then, after learning how to use the recording equipment and the fundamentals of interviewing, they headed out into the school hallways and the streets of their neighborhood to speak to their classmates and people in their neighborhood about the presidential race.

Brooklyn (2008)

Shorte Wave Brooklyn

For our first Radio Rookies Short Wave workshop, producers trained students in the basics of reporting, interviewing, and script writing, and produced a final story for the Radio Rookies website in 6 weeks.

Documentary radio production is sort of like preparing a special feast, with time and attention being vital ingredients. The core Rookies workshop takes six months from start to finish. Of course, most radio production happens under tight deadline pressure: newsroom journalists often turnaround stories in a single day. In the Short Wave workshop we find a middle ground to create a new radio reporting experience.

We partnered with The High School for Global Citizenship in Brooklyn, where Short Wave participants covered stories on everything from first love, to anime, to chicken.




After a few years of helping young people tell their own stories, Radio Rookies took on a new adventure: pairing Rookie Graduates with Senior Citizens for intergenerational exchange -- to share stories of both younger and older New Yorkers. Two Rookie-Senior pairs began meeting regularly to talk about life in New York City back when pushcarts still dotted Union Square and Joe Dimaggio was king.

Over the past two years, the first two Rookies-Senior teams got to know each other. The Seniors told the Rookie Graduates about their experiences in the past, and also talked about what matters to them today. Rookie Graduate Jose joined Stephen and his family on his 92nd birthday and recorded the festivities, and Rookie Graduate Kady taught Wally some of what she knew about radio, including how to hold a mic and use a recorder.


Graduate Stories