SLB Radio’s RADcast program teaches teens media skills — and life skills, too

A brand new Youth Media Center in Pittsburgh is producing not only incredible stories from teenagers but also preparing young people for the work world. The RADcast program is now in full swing, with teenagers busy recording interviews, setting up their audio equipment, editing on computers and creating stories for podcasts and radio in the recently renovated Youth Media Center at SLB Radio.

Students like Morgan McCray, a rising sophomore at Oakland Catholic High School, are learning the power of storytelling.

“It’s just amazing the way that these stories can impact somebody,” McCray says.

Morgan is one of 20 teenagers from 20 different schools learning to create podcasts in the RADcast program, which stands for RAD–the Regional Asset District, which uses local tax dollars for assets in the community.

One of the goals of the RADcast program is for the kids to get out in the city and learn about its many assets, particularly those in the Regional Asset District. In fact, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, where the Youth Media Center is housed, is one of the places the kids will do a podcast about.

“We hope also, behind the scenes, kids are learning about jobs they may be able to have in the arts, as well as become patrons and advocates for the arts organizations they visit,” says Larry Berger, founder and executive director at SLB Radio Productions, which runs the RADcast program.

McCray has found the RADcast experience really valuable: “In just going places that I would never have gone, maybe a theater or seeing a chorus or a symphony, I’ll definitely be more inclined to go back because I know what they are really all about,” she says.

Kalonga Mwenda, a Baldwin High School student, agrees: “Typically I have my parents drive me places, but this has pushed me to use public transportation, and it’s taught me about a bunch of areas in the city.”

Each student will produce multiple stories for a weekly podcast this fall and for the Saturday Light Brigade weekly radio program that’s broadcast from the Youth Media Center.

Berger says the goal is to teach students — not just about journalism, but also life skills.

“You’ve learned skills that will matter in any job,” he says. “How do you make a call? How do you actually make and keep an appointment? How do you interview people and make them feel comfortable talking to you?”

Deanna Baringer, SLB Radio Productions’ director of programs, says telling the story “is so important. No matter what career you go into, knowing how to shape a narrative is a really, really powerful skill.”

Some students, like Allderdice High School’s Jules Smalis, discovered a passion for storytelling through the programs here. She plans to create her own podcasts about restaurants and study communications in college.

“I think it’s a big confidence booster,” Smalis says, “because it’s something that I can put out into the world and be like, ‘I am proud of that and I worked really hard to create that.’”

If you have a teenager who may want to learn about podcasting, radio or just storytelling, visit the SLB Radio production website where you can apply for the fall RADcast program and any other programs at the Youth Media Center.

Check out the video here to see the RADcast teens in action.

Want to learn more about kids using their voices with help from SLB Radio? Check out these stories about teen podcast takeovers and RLD’s youth ambassadors. And don’t miss Kidsburgh’s youth voice learning guide!