youth radio logo is an amazing hub of education, talent, nurturing and creativity. For 20 years, they’ve been hosting a free six month program whose goal is to help youth ages 14-18 learn and experiment with the basics of media communication. Our future makers of the media are cultivated here and chances are if you’ve heard any young people on the radio, they’ve come from this amazing place.

“If they can get here”, says Teresa Chin and they are respectful and curious, then none are turned away.  Teresa Chin is the Director of Media Education (amongst other things), so she coordinates their first six months of training. From the moment they walk in the door the goal is to get them prepared for school or employment.  They first meet with a case worker, the teachers, an academic advisor and then participate in group bonding exercises so they’re able to get to know those around them. Though about 50% of the program’s youth are from Oakland, most have never interacted with each other before and are from all different walks of life. Group bonding exercises help to build bridges and important working relationships. Side note: media communications is a relatively male dominated field. I would love to see more young women in this program. Get involved girls!

The first three months are spent receiving an introduction to a variety of media skills: journalism, music, design, digital photography, etc. They host a live weekly radio show, which includes hosting their show live and on air, djing, creating a website and keeping a live tweet feed. The last three months are spent focusing on the area that really caught their fancy. If they’ve become interested in storytelling/journalism, they can start to produce their own stories. If music is their passion, they’re taken to old fashioned record stores so they can really learn about the vinyl, sample and remix some things. Multimedia includes creating their digital portfolio’s, advanced photography techniques, etc.

youth radio lab workyouth radio lab class

At the end of their training, they are able to apply for a paid internship to Youth Radio. The mix of returning  graduated students and staff that are educated and working in their fields shows the students all the possibilities that await them. Most importantly it shows the importance of “adults partnering with young people” by demonstrating what “healthy adult working relationships” look like.

Youth Radio also includes a full on news room production company, health department, chef program, tech department (basic IT) and app creation labs. There are FREE snacks every day and dinner on Fridays, all made by the youth of the chef program. Too bad I don’t fall into the 14-18 age range ;-).

Teresa Chin has been with YR for two years  and knew instantly that this was a perfect fit for her passions. As a former high school teacher, she has always been interested in adolescent health and journalism. Sometimes the students are put on air their very first visit to YR. “It’s really exciting and so important because they have really important stories to tell and rather than have a story told about them, they can show that young people have really intelligent things to say and really important perspectives to share.”

Teresa Chin Youth Radio Oakland

Though they are stationed in Oakland, they work in partnership with youth programs from all around the country.  Listen to the future media makers and hear a raw, fresh perspective on Friday nights  at 7:30 PM & 8:30 PM.

They also work with many local radio stations and publications. Hear their commentary on KQED, full length features on NPR and read their works in the National Geographic and the Huffington Post among many others.

Thank you Youth Radio for allowing our young people to wear their voices!