Youth employer partners: KUOW mentors the next generation of radio journalists

April Reyes in the 2016 Intro to Radio Journalism Workshop. Photo courtesy KUOW.

Many students walk into KUOW’s RadioActive Intro to Journalism Workshop without much knowledge of public radio, both as a career path and as a source of news. This was the case for April Reyes, a high school student in the summer 2016 cohort. By the end of the program, Reyes published a story that touched audiences and helped change her own life.

RadioActive is KUOW’s youth media program in which young people, primarily teenagers, have the chance to learn skills to work in radio journalism. KUOW has been running this paid youth workshop program for about 13 years, and have recently participated in the City of Seattle’s youth employment program by pledging to employ at least 20 youth annually.

RadioActive teaches students the “technical and storytelling skills to produce their own audio journalism,” explains Lila Kitaeff, Program Producer with RadioActive. “Beyond that, [participants learn] social emotional skills like teamwork, collaboration, leadership, and we find people gaining confidence in the workshop.”

April Reyes was a stand-out program participant for Kitaeff. During her time in the workshop, Reyes published a piece describing her experience as a homeless student who was taken in by a local family. The story was one of KUOW’s most widely-shared that year and won an Edward R. Murrow Award for best Feature Reporting—competing against adult journalists all over the region.

Beyond the story’s effect on KUOW’s audience, it also affected Reyes’s life. Reyes’s school teachers began treating her with more respect after the story was published, and she was awarded a scholarship to the school of her choice.

RadioActive has become such a big part of my life by giving me countless opportunities,” says Reyes. “It has given me confidence. RadioActive continuously inspires me to influence others to take the opportunity to tell their stories. Everyone deserves to be heard.”

Reyes continues to be a part of RadioActive by participating in its Advanced Producer group, teaching workshops at the King County Juvenile Detention Center, and doing outreach to inspire other students to share their voices. She is currently attending school to become a social worker.

April Reyes’s experience shows the impact that a summer job can have, both for the student and for the organization. Beyond producing quality journalism for KUOW—student stories have won various awards over the years—Kitaeff stresses the other values of hosting youth interns.

Students in the summer 2016 workshop. Photo courtesy KUOW.

“We’re introducing young people to public radio…they may become listeners, they may spread that to their own communities,” says Kitaeff. KUOW is also “living its values as an organization” through its youth employment program. In sharing access to KUOW’s resources with students who are often from communities with less access to high quality arts and media, KUOW is furthering its mission to “serve the entire community.”

“You’re going to learn so much from the young people that you work with,” says Kitaeff, when asked what employers can expect when hosting youth interns. “You’re going to gain new perspectives, new ideas, and the energy that we get from working with young people is the best.”

Interested in hosting interns this summer at your organization? We’re recruiting! Find out how to get involved through the youth employment website, or contact Blake Konrady at bkonrady@educurious.org.