Radio Rookies collaborates with youth to produce documentaries that take listeners deep inside the lives of the NYC teens.
Since 1999, Radio Rookies has been conducting workshops across New York, in predominantly under-resourced neighborhoods, training young people to use words and sounds to tell true stories. Upon completion, the Rookies’ documentaries air on WNYC – usually during Morning Edition (5am to 9am weekdays on WNYC 93.9 FM, 6am to 10am on WNYC AM 820 and online at wnyc.org)
Radio Rookies typically runs one or two workshops a year, each lasting anywhere from four to eight months. During the workshops, Rookie Reporters learn everything about radio journalism: from how to conduct an interview and develop a story to how to craft a script and digitally edit their audio. There is no fee, and the program provides all the equipment and instruction needed. Additionally, Each Rookie reporter is also paired with a volunteer mentor – a professional journalist – who gives the teenager guidance and mentorship outside of the workshop.
The Radio Rookies workshops are held at partnering community organizations in the city. Past workshops have been held at Make the Road by Walking Inc. in Bushwick, Brooklyn, The Point Community Development Center in Hunts Point, The Bronx, the YWCA in Flushing, Queens, the Seamen’s Society for Children and Families in St. George, Staten Island, the Grand Street Settlement on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, the Council of Pakistan Organization (COPO) in Midwood, Brooklyn, The Cove (Community Organized with a Vision of Excellence) in the Mosholu section of Norwood in The Bronx, at SAYA! (South Asian Youth Action) in Queens, and mostly recently at Project Hospitality in Staten Island.
Coverage of youth in the media rarely represents what young people are truly facing, thinking and saying. By helping young people reach WNYC’s audience of more than one million weekly listeners, WNYC’s Radio Rookies has become an integral part of the station.