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Dayton Youth Radio expands participation for high-school age students.

Samira Peterson speaks about culture from her perspective, one of the many stories told in DYR's 10 years.
WYSO/Eichelberger Center for Community Voices.
Samira Peterson speaks about culture from her perspective, one of the many stories told in DYR's 10 years.

Dayton Youth Radio is celebrating it’s ten year anniversary on WYSO this year. Since it began, it’s been a training program based at different area high schools every fall and spring, where producer Basim Blunt works with students, teaching them media skills. But this year, Dayton Youth Radio will be open to all students, regardless of whether or not their SCHOOL is participating - and all the classes will be taught AT WYSO.

Basim Blunt - senior producer and the Dayton Youth Radio project coordinator talked with the expansion with WYSO’s Jerry Kenney:

Basim Blunt: What I found out in ten years is that Dayton Youth Radio has limitations in that, if you're not a student at the high school that, you know, I'm at four weeks, like Centerville, we have some great partners, Stivers, Miami Valley School, then you don't get the chance to participate in Dayton Youth Radio, so we went to the drawing board and I said, 'well, what can we do about this?' And we came up with the idea, and we're starting it this year, to open up Dayton Youth Radio for any high school teen.

So, this year, it's starting in September, on September 10th, we're going to have the classes here at WYSO. And one reason we thought that was a good idea is because, you know, when we do evaluations at the end of a class every year, what was the most fun that you had doing Dayton Youth Radio, and every student says it was coming to WYSO and being in the studios. So, if that's the most enjoyable day based on our survey data, why not make all six classes, all eight classes here at WYSO? So, that's the idea behind it and is happening in a couple of weeks.

Jerry Kenney: So, this is going to be a really great way to reach more students?

Blunt: Yeah. Yeah. They will have diversity, will have students from rural areas and and suburbs and the city and urban areas are, you know, converging for this class, this 10th year class here at WYSO. And it's going to be just totally electric.

Kenney: I think you're going to see a lot more response from kids outside the school structure.

Blunt: Yeah, yeah. Even kids that are homeschooled, I mean, every type of way that, you know, you have you have a teenager in your life, whether it's in a public school setting or private school setting, or if they're doing more untraditional work, you know, at home, this is an opportunity to get your kids into the Dayton Youth Radio program, especially when I think I've seen that this is something that colleges like, if your kids are thinking about going to college and even if they're doing a gap year, but to have the Dayton Youth Radio experience on your college application is pretty awesome.

And it's always a safe place, you know, even though the classes are here at WYSO, we're still going to make sure it's a safe place and where young person could tell anything they want, any story about their life. There are no limitations and so we're really excited about having it here and then creating that safe place here to tell a story.

Kenney: Basim, I've always been impressed with, you know, I've seen you over the years and the guidance that you provide these students because you can't just throw them some paper, tell them to write a story and throw them on the mic. Ah, there are some ramifications to some of the stories they tell. These are important words coming from them.

Blunt: Yeah, we always think about that - the safety. How's this story going to sound you know, when you're 30, or if you're running for office and somebody digs through your social media and they're like, ‘Hey, you did a Dayton Youth Radio story!’ So, it's always a safe place. And the cool thing about our partners and some of the teachers, a lot of the teachers that I've been working with are volunteering to come to WYSO to partner up in the classroom and just on their day off, just, you know, they know how I structure the class and they're going to come and sit in. So, we're going to have we have college students assisting, plus some of the teachers are going to be it's a family environment. We're all coming on board to make sure that, again, this is a safe place, and the kids are inspired to do their thing.

Kenney: So how are students going to be able to get involved?

Blunt: I think this is the tough part because you have to go to our website, WYSO.org. You'll see the application. The deadline is coming up soon, in days, and we're only admitting 10 to 12 students. So, the tough part is if you're a parent or a teacher or a grandparent, auntie, uncle, to drive your kid to the website, show them this awesome opportunity and get them to click. And most teenage is like, 'Nah, I'm good.' And so how do you get your teenager to join? So that's going to be the challenge, but I think it's going to be awesome.

Kenney: I think so. Basim, thanks so much. Good luck with the next season and the expansion of Dayton Youth Radio.

Blunt: It's free. There's going to be lunch and get your kid on board now. Thank you.

Jerry began volunteering at WYSO in 1991 and hosting Sunday night's Alpha Rhythms in 1992. He joined the YSO staff in 2007 as Morning Edition Host, then All Things Considered. He's hosted Sunday morning's WYSO Weekend since 2008 and produced several radio dramas and specials . In 2009 Jerry received the Best Feature award from Public Radio News Directors Inc., and was named the 2023 winner of the Ohio Associated Press Media Editors Best Anchor/News Host award. His current, heart-felt projects include the occasional series Bulletin Board Diaries, which focuses on local, old-school advertisers and small business owners. He has also returned as the co-host Alpha Rhythms.