The Journey


An idea takes form ...
My journey to help young people express their ideas and opinions took root from my
experience doing radio in high school and college. I knew that young people had something to say and needed a way to get their voices heard.

In 2005, I proposed a radio production and media literacy elective course to ECA's new principal, Leo Lavallee. Leo immediately green-lighted the project and so the ECA Radio Class -- and the ECA radio show -- was born.

Could a group of diverse high school students produce a radio show that reflected their own ideas and culture but also could justify being broadcast to the wider community?

Under my supervision, fifteen ECA students from all arts disciplines brain stormed, experimented, wrote scripts, conducted interviews, performed and assessed original student music, writing, and satire -- and finished recording content for their first show on September 28, one week before it was to be broadcast on WPKN (89.5 FM).  

The form takes shape ...
The show's title, Road Kill Radio, was chosen by that first group of students to reflect the edgy, free-wheeling style of the program.  It has stuck for all subsequent shows along with the 'magazine' format which allows students to experiment with a variety of topics, creative forms and genres.  (BTW:  Kudos to 2005 ECA Radio Class veteran Jacob Baldwin for dreaming up Road Kill Radio's opening musical hook, a zany take-off on Public Radio's All Things Considered theme.) 
 
Since that first Road Kill Radio show was broadcast on October 4, 2005, ECA students have produced twenty shows, all of which have aired on WPKN.
 
Through the process of working with Radio Class students that first semester, the form and content of a comprehensive media literacy/radio production course took shape.

Collaboration is the key ...
From the beginning, working together to produce a cohesive and comprehensive radio show has been a key part of the youth radio production process.  Students quickly recognize that a successful radio show requires content on many topics, points of view and genres.   Radio Class students constantly reach out to the other elective classes and arts departments at ECA to bring in material that not only reflects the school's culture but also makes for compelling radio.  Creative writing, discussions about visual art, examples of original student music, drama and humor bring students from the entire school into the process.  With the creation of this web site, students from the wider youth community can listen to shows, post comments and exchange ideas about issues raised in RKR radio segments.

Please visit the FAQ section for more details.
 
The idea evolves ...

Youth Radio CT "LIVE"
To supplement the experience of producing pre-recorded radio, I began a monthly "live" youth broadcast in the spring of 2008.   Students from area schools began traveling down to WPKN in Bridgeport to present their thoughts and ideas, poetry, music and special projects "live" on the air.  These Youth Radio CT "LIVE" editions (1 - 6 ) are archived here on this site.

Youth Radio CT "LIVE" now has a new hour-long time slot, one Friday each month. All future shows, schedules, and general information will be hosted on this site. Please feel free to contact me at youthradioct@aol.com or here if you are interested in being on the show.
 
Both "live" and pre-recorded youth radio were the subject of a panel that I led at the Intercollegiate Broadcasting System's (www.ibsradio.org) annual conference in New York City last March.  Students and teachers from across the country talked about youth radio projects and shared strategies for producing and disseminating more quality content about youth culture. Visit my blog for updates on other youth radio projects and related media events.
 
Taking it to a Middle School
In February, 2008, I began working with a group of 7th and 8th graders at Worthington Hooker School in New Haven.  The challenge was clear:  how to get students at that very self-conscious age to go "on mic" with their ideas, performances, jokes, etc.
I met the Hooker School group twice a week for 30-minute sessions and I modified many of the exercises and activities that I use with older students.  Over the course of the first six weeks, my students began to develop a sense of trust in the mission and each other -- and began generating some really good radio content.  
 
When the residency ended in late May, I gathered up my plentiful data and met with
Geno Heiter.  We edited our first Middle School Radio Show for broadcast on WPKN in June, 2008.
 
In July, 2008, I presented a workshop on middle school radio at the HOT Schools Summer Institute and played selections from the show to over 150 K-8 teachers.  The consensus was:  Yes they can!  Middle school kids have a lot to say and share with the larger learning community.
 
Partnering with a colleague ...
During the course of developing this project, I enlisted the expertise of 
Geno Heiter. Geno is a trusted colleague with a great ear and knack for all types of audio production.  I had worked with Geno in the past and I was confident that his years of production work, and experience as a musician, performer and teacher, would naturally offer insightful reflection and consideration regarding all aspects of the finished production of the different Road Radio Shows showcased and archived on Youth Radio Connecticut.

I am delighted to report that from the start, Geno has demonstrated his devotion to my concept of youth radio through his thoughtful recommendations and technological contributions during the production of the twenty ECA radio shows, the Hooker Middle School Radio Show and the Youth Radio Connecticut web site.  I'm also proud to say that our collaboration has been as enjoyable as it is productive.

* Please note that all decisions regarding the content of the shows published on www.youthradioct.org are made by Richard Hill.