Youth Radio, Berkeley’s award-winning media outlet for East Bay high school-aged students, is planning to move to Oakland.
The youth-run organization that won a Peabody Award three years ago is planning to purchase a three-story building at 1701 Broadway in Oakland, according to a staff member who asked to remain anonymous. Sid Ewing, of real estate brokerage firm C B Richard Ellis, said the property is in escrow but would not say who the buyer is.
Neither party would name the purchase price or predict Youth Radio’s planned move-in date.
Youth Radio has been looking to buy a building for the past three years, said Patrick Kennedy, who owns the group’s current headquarters at 1809 University Ave.
The new location in Oakland would give Youth Radio five times more space than its current home.
“We’ve been bursting at the seams for the past few years,” a Youth Radio executive told the Daily Planet. Currently Youth Radio has only one recording studio, forcing students to wait in line to produce segments.
About 40 to 45 percent of Youth Radio participants hail from Oakland, more than from any other city.
Youth Radio had tried to buy a larger space in Berkeley near a BART stop. According to Kennedy, Youth Radio nearly closed a deal to buy a building on Shattuck Avenue near the corner of Cedar Street. Kennedy added that Youth Radio’s lease ran through 2007, but contains a provision allowing the organization to leave earlier.
Berkeley High teacher Rick Ayers, who has worked with Youth Radio to train students and install Berkeley High’s sound studio, said he didn’t think the move to Oakland would affect Berkeley High students.
“It makes it a little less convenient to go there, but I think it will be fine for us,” he said.
Councilmember Kriss Worthington said Youth Radio officials had already alerted him of the impending move.
“We’re glad that they found a place to enable them to expand,” he said. “I’m sure Berkeley people will still be involved.”
Youth Radio received more than $2.5 million in contributions in 2003, according to tax statements and ended the year with more than $1.6 million in net assets.
The 20,235-square-foot building at 1701 Broadway was listed for $3.1 million, said Barbara Kami of Ellwood Patrick Ellwood Commercial Real Estate.
Youth Radio got its start in Berkeley 13 years ago with a handful of high school students. Now, with funding from major Bay Area foundations, the station teaches radio journalism to about 200 East Bay youth from Union City to Richmond.
Besides being an Internet radio outlet, Youth Radio produces segments for local stations including KQED and KPFA.
In 2002 Youth Radio won the Peabody Award for “enabling thousands of teenagers to express their views, to experience civic engagement and to develop critical thinking skills, teamwork and self-esteem.”
The next year, the National Association of Black Journalists awarded Youth Radio its “Salute to Excellence” honors for a radio documentary examining Oakland’s soaring murder rate through the eyes of a teenager.