As a youth media person, I’m always most interested in the *surprise!* youth media track at the National Federation of Community Broadcasters conference. And though this year’s gathering on April 1-5th was no exception – presentations from June Fox of DEI on fund raising and Brett Myers of Youth Radio on Storytelling in Sound and Pictures were highlights – the smaller numbers of youth gave me the chance to mingle with some of the bigger kids, and I learned a lot here, too.
Web 2.0 discussions abounded, with some particularly thought-provoking points emerging out of the “Looking Ahead: Radio in 5 Years” panel, moderated by Peggy Berryhill of Native Public Media and featuring Mark Fuerst (Innovation4Media), Rebecca Martin (Youth Radio), Skip Pizzi (media technology consultant) and Norm Stockwell (WORT, Madison). Mark talked frankly about how radio is in decline, and how stations should focus not on being the builders of social media or new services (a fairly brave thing to say to a station crowd!) so much as collaborating with online providers. Mark also lamented the U.S.’s out-of-date legislation which gives a majority of public money to the failing public TV sector and advocated for the CBC model, which devotes 3% of its budget to new media (and quickly became a destination after doing so).
Rebecca, of Youth Radio (which, tellingly, is renaming itself Youth Media International), gave a compelling overview of YR’s cross-media approach. The organization is both agile and willing to experiment with new projects, and their focus is on what they call “the spread:” launching video/photo/audio bits that are short, modular and portable on multiple sites. Notably, all of their producer kits now include a still camera and a Flip video camera.
Skip Pizzi summarized the panel’s general emphasis on content over platform by saying, “radio is what you do, not what you are.” All cautioned against getting too attached to any particular delivery method.
Sue Schardt, president of AIR, the Association of Independents in Radio, moderated an interesting panel on “Moving Audience, Shaping the Sound of Tomorrow” which featured Makers Quest winner/KUOW Producer/GPRX collaborator Jenny Asarnow, WFUV DJ Trent Wolbe, who’s been doing remote live broadcasts via IP technology, and Hammad Ahmed, whose project http://jackstraw.org/radiolingual has some really interesting models of participatory audio and language learning.
All of this good material, but only the youth media track featured an icebreaker involving personal facts and a roll of toilet paper. Youth producers from Terrascope Youth Radio, Youth Radio and Hopi High left with an understanding of distribution options and peer feedback through PRX, new tools for finding money and hands-on cross-media experience. On day two, youth producers documented a trip to legendary local establishment Voodoo Donuts and trekked to Oregon Public Broadcasting for an interview with station manager Steve Bass and a surprise, impromptu visit from the host of PBS’ Lehrer News Hour, Jim Lehrer. See more photos on the Youth Radio flickr page.