Berkeley’s broadcast program Youth Radio has joined the ranks of “60 minutes” and CNN news, and last week, their kinship with the media giants was acknowledged by the state Assembly.
Eleven young broadcasters were recognized Thursday at the State Capital building in Sacramento for winning the George Foster Peabody Award. Youth Radio was one of 34 media programs to recently win the honor, typically given to more lavishly-budgeted television shows and networks.
“It’s really quite impressive,” said District 14 Assemblywoman Dion Aroner, who presented a complimentary resolution on the floor of the Assembly. “It is important that its success is transmitted throughout the nation and used to boost more programs that give youth a voice.”
Their signature radio program, which airs locally on KPFB two days each week, presents commentaries of youth on a variety of issues likely to affect the youth community. Topics range from crime to education to teenage sex.
The program is syndicated in certain NPR markets across the nation, and has also been picked up internationally by the BBC.
Their national prize was earned, according to the Peabody board, “for activities enabling thousands of teenagers to express their views, to experience civic engagement and to develop critical thinking skills, teamwork, and self-esteem.”
The distinction comes after a decade in existence in a small office on University Avenue. An on-site staff of mostly 14- to 17-year-olds, with little adult supervision, runs the studio with the input of students from local schools ranging in age from 11 to 20. A pier-training program has assured a consistent stream of qualified broadcasters.
“The youth build the organization and carry it on their back,” said Youth Radio Deputy Director Beverly Mire.
The program has also gained notoriety for its focus on minority and economically-challenged groups. The majority of Youth Radio participants are low-income and ethnic minorities.
“A lot of them go home, and their lives aren’t that great, but when they come here, they shine,” said Mire.
In addition to their cornerstone radio program, Youth Radio has expanded into other media outlets and has created material for television, newspaper, and the Internet.
Today, a delegation of Youth Radio participants is visiting the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York City where they will officially receive the Peabody Award.
Their two-hour radio program can be heard on KPFB channel 89.3 on Thursdays at 4 p.m. and Fridays at 7 p.m.
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