Blunt Youth Radio Project
Location: WMPG FM, Portland, Maine
Project Team: High-school age youth, both free and incarcerated, from the Greater-Portland area. Currently Blunt has 25 members, from 8 schools, and one unschooled. Directed by Claire Holman.
Website: http://www.prx.org/group_accounts/767-bluntradio Thanks in advance for listening!
How are you making Maine a better place for young people?
Blunt Youth Radio Project provides an outlet for Maine youth to express themselves and speak out on issues and concerns in our immediate community and beyond. Our weekly call-in-talk show airs every Monday night from 7:30-8:30pm on WMPG Southern Maine Community Radio, 104.1 and 90.9 FM, and streaming live on the Internet. Our mission is “Youth empowerment through direct media access”. The show topics are chosen by the teen members themselves. We cover a wide range from current issues like the misuse of pharmaceuticals and the future of nuclear power, cyclical topics like election coverage and college admissions, and even topics that don’t seem like “teen issues” like industrial agriculture’s oil dependency or the European economic crisis. In this way, Blunt allows its members to pursue topics we’re interested in, and at the same time pushes us to keep updated on current news. Teens involved with our project are invested in community issues.
Blunt members are trained in all areas of radio production: interviewing, hosting, reporting, audio editing, and engineering a live broadcast . Many more skills are acquired through involvement in Blunt Youth Radio. Organization and communication skills are immensely improved whether it’s sending out emails/phone calls to potential guests, or keeping track and editing the audio you’ve collected. Blunt members learn to be taken seriously by important community figures that we interact with, whether this be a librarian or member of Congress. These are valuable skills that will be used throughout life. There is a sense of empowerment that comes along with every aspect of our project. Blunt Youth Radio is helping Maine youth develop into educated and passionate young adults, the future citizens of Maine.
Other opportunities provided by in Blunt Youth Radio include: travel and participating in the larger world of independent radio/audio production. We’ve visted our partners Terrascope Youth Radio in Cambridge, Massachusetts and Radio Rookies at WNYC in New York City. We’ve attended and radio conferences throughout the USA, from San Francisco to Boston. We don’t just learn from others, we also teach and create. Blunt has often been asked to present workshops at events and conferences, and last year we put on a radio conference, reat Northeast Radio Rally, which was a smash hit, with radio producers coming from throughout Maine, and from Boston, New York and even beyond. We created and launched the Audio Slam, and were then invited to put it on again in New York City at the Digital Waves Youth Media Festival! Work by Blunt members have aired nationwide thanks to our partnership with the Public Radio Exchange, and on radio shows ranging from MPBN to This American Life. Some of our work has received awards, whether that be WMPG’s Golden Mini Disk or a first place from the Maine Association of Broadcasters.
What challenges in your community are you addressing?
Blunt Youth Radio addresses any issue in the community that can be discussed on our call-in-talk show. We give a voice to young people and our members are in control! Too often, young people are treated as not ready to do the “real” thing, but we know differently. By participating in such a program members prove how mature and responsible teens can be. There are few outlets for expressionism available to teens in the Greater-Portland community that run for such a long duration (year-round). And by creating a weekly public affairs radio show, w we are not only giving young people a voice, but also we learn to be ethical and responsible as we report on community issues. Along with this, Blunt Youth Radio is one of the very few media outlets that work directly with incarcerated youth. By doing so, we are help change how incarcerated youth are perceived by the public; we are giving them a voice and the chance to tell their own stories.
Sometimes young people in Maine may feel that “real life” starts later, not in high school and not in Maine, but by encouraging us to be invested in our community we get to see that we can be part of the social dialog right now, right here.
Who will benefit from your idea? How will people access and learn about the work you are doing?
Hundreds of high-school students from the Greater-Portland area will and have benefited from our project. The expressive outlet radio provides the youth creates empowerment. Our project molds responsible journalists and informed citizens. We often host semi-annual open houses to bring in new members, and advertise the program throughout local schools. In fact, I was first attracted to the program after receiving a handout at my school. Not only do our teen members benefit from Blunt Youth Radio, but the community benefits as well. Our project airs weekly on WMPG Southern Maine Community Radio, and streams live on wmpg.org. We take advantage of social media outlets to promote our weekly shows and ask for funding. Blunt Radio provides the public with information from a teen’s perspective which can be an eye-opening experience. We’re creating a better sense of community between teens and adults.
What major success would you like to see at the end or apex of your project?
The apex for Blunt would be to have a thriving, informed community of teen participants who have access to up-to-date equipment, make excellent features and take on challenging topics all the while reaching out to other youth media producers, whether radio, online or TV. We seek to teach the art of interviewing, speak truth to power and bring creativity and freshness to the media world. We are already doing some of this, but as we go forward, we need to renew our resources so that we can reach farther and continue to have more impact on the world of youth-produced media.
WMPG FM, Southern Maine Community Radio
Long Creek Youth Development Center (LCYDC is located in South Portland)
The Portland Hive, summer writing program from The Telling Room