A New Chapter for Generation PRX

Evolution of the GPRX Logo

Evolution of the GPRX Logo

In 9 years of leading Generation PRX, I’ve watched this network grow from a handful of committed youth radio groups to something more closely resembling a movement. And though I’ll be leaving PRX to pursue a career in health at the end of the month, I’m so excited to see what comes next for the youth radio field.

We’ve come a long way! Thanks to dedicated youth radio producers, teachers, and stations, diverse stories from young producers are reaching millions of listeners. From 26 youth radio stories, the PRX catalogue now hosts over 2,400 pieces from 60 youth radio groups. Audiences are hearing young people report on topics ranging from politics to heartbreak, but they’re also hearing something else: young people’s capacity, vision, and insight.

GPRX’s Youth Editorial Board has proved to be a vital network of peer feedback, and our hour-long specials on topics as wide-ranging as immigration, parenting and the environment have created a new model of programming. This work demonstrates what I think of as the hallmark of youth-produced radio: the transformative power of both making and listening to stories.

But this isn’t goodbye! I’ll be staying on in some new capacities to help shepherd this important work forward, and we’ve got excellent partners that support new voices:

  • At PRX, we’ll continue to feature youth-produced radio on the website, newsletters and social media. And PRX Remix – our 24-hour satellite and broadcast stream – is always looking for great content from new producers. If you have work or news to share please let our editors know. We’re also planning to offer webinars to help youth radio groups build capacity in areas like fundraising, peer feedback and distribution. Details to follow.
  • Transom has recently launched online workshops (now in testing) to help new producers hone skills in a free, distance-learning format. From history, to interviewing, to equipment – keep your eye on this one.
  • HowSound podcast, from venerable radio teacher Rob Rosenthal, is an incredible tool for understanding how great radio gets made. Subscribe in iTunes.
  • Start planning now to go to Third Coast Festival, the best producer meet up in radioland. TCF is a chance to build skills, connect with new and veteran producers, and (of course!) show off your dance moves.
  • AIR – the Association of Independents in Radio – offers both student-discount memberships and mentorship programs that help individual producers focus on a particular skill and audio piece. Their New Voices scholarships help minority producers attend Third Coast. Contact Erin Mishkin (erin[at]airmedia[dot]org) to learn more.

I’m so proud of what the Generation PRX network has created, and excited to hear what comes next. I remain as inspired by young people’s stories  – and the producers, teachers and stations who bring them to the world – as I was ten years ago. The future is bright!



Bullied Takes Off

Way back in the fall of 2010, when we first started talking to the Generation PRX network about creating an hour-long youth special on bullying, we knew we were on to something.

Over the past several years, GPRX has collaborated with stations (KUOW, WBEZ, NHPR) and youth producers to tackle issues ranging from immigration, to parenting, to Black masculinity.  The shows – which bring a uniquely youth perspective to topics that young people experience first hand – have been PRX hits.

But this time?  We’ve been bowled over by pick up both on and off the radio.

GPRX's Jones Franzel talks "Bullied" on FoxNews.com

So far, Bullied: Teen Stories from Generation PRX has been licensed by 16 different stations.  It’s been spotlighted on the Third Coast Festival library, written about on FoxNews.com and GPRX Director Jones Franzel was interviewed on Jonathan Hunts’ show on FoxNews.com (true story!)

Bullied: Teen Stories from Generation PRX was funded by the Motorola Mobility Foundation and comes from (awesome, amazing) producer Catie Talarski, Connecticut Public Radio and PRX.  You’ll find the back story to how this ambitious special came together as well as individual posts from featured youth radio groups on generationprx.org.   We’re so proud of the work the whole team did, and gratified that the show is finding audiences far and wide.

YouthCast’s Molly Adams on Jeopardy(!)

Molly Adams on Jeopardy

We’re always impressed with YouthCast host, Vocalo morning co-host and all ’round awesome Molly Adams. But last week she went national: Molly was on Jeopardy. Yes, that Jeopardy. 9-million-viewers-a-day, originator of the da-da-da-dam why-are-you-taking-so-long music, upside down answer/question format Jeopardy.

And while Molly didn’t win the game, she did go into Final Jeopardy with the lead and went down with characteristic style (captured in the clip below). For $500, who rocks the YouthCast bells? Molly Adams.

NFCB, The Synopsis

Want to know why these youth producers are posing with Jim Lehrer?  Read on...
Want to know why these youth producers are posing with Jim Lehrer? Read on...
Photo: Brett Myers/Youth Radio

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.

Want to know why these youth producers are posing with Jim Lehrer?  Read on...
GPRX Director Jones Franzel poses with Hopi High members (L to R) Hannah Honani, Paul Quamahongnewa, Fawn Lomakema, Jones Franzel, Stan Bindell, Tarrah Tewanema, Nicole Sockyma after Trailblazing Radio workshop

Who says public radio doesn’t pay?

David Green of Third Grade Audio recently wrote to share news of windfall profits this quarter. Thanks to a KVMR license of “Questions for Martin Luther King, Jr.” his third grade producers found themselves in the black with earnings of $1.20. And being a fair and kind boss, David distributed the profits equally among all contributors: one nickel each.

Below, Chicago-area Third Graders from North Shore Country Day School – creators of such PRX classics as “Loose Tooth” and “Stuffed Animals 3” – pose with their profits.

We should add that David is not only kind, but fastidious. He wrote, “So, for accuracy’s sake, each of my students will get 4.3¢, or one Czech Koruna, which is worth that much at current exchange rates. Since I can’t get my hands on any Koruny, my co-teacher, Amy Kenyon, and I have each generously added 10¢ of our own to the pot, thus bringing payment for each third grader up to a nickel.” Isn’t it great when management cuts you a deal?