Continuing Education in the Community Newsroom – KALW and ACE
By Martha Sessums
What started out as a pilot program to help bring more youth voices and talent to KALW has grown into a program that deepens the local public radio station’s community service commitment. High school students and adult volunteers benefit from this continuing education partnership, as does KALW’s listening and online public that increasingly has the opportunity to hear and read about topics that matter to our next generation — and ultimately to everyone.
The ACE and KALW starter program in 2012 was a high school summer internship program along with a partnership with Youth Radio in Oakland. Youth Radio creates radio, video and podcast stories told and produced by young people. Youth Radio Last year, KALW broadcast 20 Youth Radio stories on Crosscurrents, KALW’s daily news magazine, and posted 51 articles and commentaries to the station’s website. Some of the topics covered: youth perspective of the recent election, gun violence and the nature of teenage love.
In KALW’s newsroom, two Burton Academic High School students completed a paid summer internship of 20 hours a week learning how to produce and create content for Crosscurrents. They learned the basics of sound engineering and production, how to create and write radio stories, trailed professional reporters on the job and ultimately created their own pieces that were aired. (Check out ACE Spectrum posts August 13 and 14, 2012.) That’s a nice hit on an application that needs to shine in the college acceptance process.
KALW also held 10 radio production workshops at Burton Academic High School last year. Eleventh and 12th graders from the school’s Academy of Information and Technology were taught radio interview and recording techniques. They received hands-on experience by recording each other in the station’s “My Mix Tape” format featuring songs that are meaningful to their lives. The hands-on experience gave these students interested in visual and audio arts an authentic exposure to specific education for a broadcast career.
But training students at KALW expanded past its newsroom to two other Oakland youth organizations. Radio production workshops were held at East Oakland Leadership Academy. Also, KALW will be airing student’s radio diaries about money’s impact on their lives from Game Theory Academy, an economics training program for youth. Game Theory Academy,
The station’s added focus on training youth inspired a formalization of structure and capacity that spilled over to KALW’s ongoing radio production training program. For several years, KALW has invited volunteers into the newsroom to learn radio journalism. These volunteers range from career starters to career re-inventors, all wanting to learn new skills and work alongside professional radio journalists. Curriculum was formalized into a four-month track so the station could train 40 volunteers – the most ever — and broadcast more of their stories. Past volunteers have found jobs at places like KQED, Iowa Public Radio, NPR and several international radio stations.
Holly Kernan, KALW News Director, said, “Our radio training is the only one like this offered in public radio. Where else can you get a graduate level education without paying for it?”
The person who manages all this training at KALW is Youth Training Coordinator Casey Miner, also the station’s News Producer and Editor. She creates and produces the curriculum and teaches students, in addition to her producer and editor duties. She is already looking to expand projects and opportunities this year for students enthusiastic or curious about broadcast journalism. Not only will Burton Academic High School benefit from internships and workshops but other schools and organizations from the surrounding community will be encouraged to learn how to tell their story in a radio voice.
Stay tuned for more reports on the continuing education partnership between ACE and KALW. In the meantime, check out 91.7 FM to hear local voices on Crosscurrents. KALW