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!