Youth Media Project
Tuesday, 06 May 2014 00:00

The final weeks of the Youth Media Project are upon us! We've spent our last two classes finalizing scripts, recording narration, and cutting and editing sound clips. Our video coordinator Chris Hillen has taken each of our student producers out on a videography journey around Marfa, capturing footage to complement the students' radio pieces. Students will have the opportunity to come in and be a part of the video editing process with Chris over the final week.

Thursday, 01 May 2014 00:00

Stories are finally beginning to take shape here at the YMP headquarters! Our last several weeks of Youth Media have been dedicated to collecting final interviews, logging tape, and learning Adobe Audition, our audio editing software at Marfa Public Radio.

Student producers have been meeting one-on-one with their mentors to talk about how to turn their collected audio into a compelling radio script. There's been a lot of material to comb through, but that makes for a better story!

In editing our scripts, we've addressed questions like: What kind of perspective is missing from the story? Which moments leave us wanting more? Is there a sense of momentum in the story? Once the scripts are finalized, students will begin coming in for narration recording sessions with Sally.

Monday, 07 April 2014 00:00

Workshop 3 brought exciting news to the KRTS Youth Media Project. Today, we finalized our partnership with PBS NewsHour’s Student Reporting Labs Program; at the end of our 8 week project, our students will have the opportunity to share their stories on the Student Reporting Labs website, alongside other student reports from around the country. We had a Skype session with our PBS liaison Thai Da Silva, who welcomed our students into the program and spoke with us about story ideas.

We spent the remainder of class focusing on storytelling techniques in radio. After watching Ira Glass's 4-part series on storytelling for radio, we talked about the difference between writing for the eye and writing for the ear. One of the building blocks of storytelling for broadcast is momentum. Rather than relying on the structure of topic sentences and facts to fill them out, radio relies on sequences of actions. Momentum takes us from one scene to the next, so that we travel with the story from one place, event, or emotional state to the next. All the while, we are raising questions that lead to a moment of reflection. The climax of the piece should communicate something with punch – what’s the point?

We also talked about the technical side of writing for broadcast. In radio, the audience can’t go back and re-read a long sentence. Information needs to be parceled out in bite-sized pieces if the listener only has one chance to absorb it!

We ended class with an exercise in scene writing. Students listened to a sound byte of a snake charmer being interviewed at the circus. They wrote scenes to introduce the charmer as if she were a voice in a radio story. Here are some of the results.

Monday, 25 March 2013 00:00

We began our second workshop by listening to two Youth Radio pieces, this one about the contents of cosmetic products by Joi Morgan, and this one about candy-flavored e-cigarettes by Jenny Bolario.

The focus of today’s workshop was interview technique. Marfa Public Radio General Manager Tom Michael came to class to share his expertise in the world of collecting audio. With over 20 years of journalism experience under his belt, Tom had plenty of helpful stories and advice for our student producers. Takeaway points included being prepared and comfortable with your recording equipment, holding the microphone close to your interview subject’s mouth for good audio quality, asking open-ended questions in order to elicit interesting answers, and getting your interview subject up and walking for those good “show me” moments.


After talking with Tom, students practiced interviewing their mentors on the topic of life adventures. They found the biggest challenges to be coming up with questions when conversation trailed off, remembering to keep the microphone close to their mentors’ mouths, and keeping their arms from falling off while staying in the same position for the duration of the interview. All good practice for the future—students will begin collecting audio for their stories over the coming weeks!

Monday, 24 March 2014 09:47

Today, 6 student-producers-to-be from Marfa ISD, their local mentors, and several volunteers gathered in the back room of the Marfa Public Radio studios, marking the official start of the 2014 KRTS Youth Media Project. We discussed why the students would be paid this year, why their perspective matters to the rest of the world, and how they might begin to find their way into a good story. Armed with snacks, portable Zoom recorders, and blindfolds, we came ready to dive into all things radio.

Our first activity was an exercise in the experience of sound. After taking some time to get acquainted with our Zoom recorders, we took a trip to the shade structure up the street, where the students got into "sound walking" pairs. One partner put on a blindfold and headphones hooked up to a recorder, while the other acted as her blindfolded partner's guide. They took turns walking around under the shade structure, experiencing the environment with an amplified sense of sound, and without the distraction of sight. The students found that the soundscape was full of noises that they wouldn't pay attention to on a normal day - footsteps on gravel, birds chirping, distant traffic, the wind interacting with solid structures. We took a minute to talk about collecting ambient sound, and how it can add rich scene-setting details to a radio piece.

Back at the studio, we discussed ways in which the students might approach their stories. Would they be news-oriented? Community-based? Personal stories? We had a group brainstorm about the problems we see in our community and the issues that are important to us. We recognized that the stories wouldn't necessarily have to be heavy in order to be good, but they would need to have a strong narrative quality to keep our listeners' interest.

We ended the day by listening to this story by Radio Rookie reporter Alicia Martinez. Our student producers will come back next week with 5 potential story ideas - part of finding a good story is eliminating the ones that won't work!

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