Welcome, Rene Dongo, to the ZUMIX team!
Rene Dongo, Radio Program Coordinator, joined ZUMIX in 2017. As a filmmaker, media maker and teaching artist he has found the intersection of community and youth arts education to be a pivotal step to helping young people grow and find their voice in the communities they live and learn in. At ZUMIX he works to support community and youth produced radio programming.
We stole a few minutes away from Rene’s whirlwind first week at ZUMIX to get to know him a little bit better. Read more below!
What artists or media makers are you digging these days?
Latino USA, an NPR podcast hosted by Maria Hinojosa and a crew of great Latino writers, covers a bunch of stuff that really doesn’t get covered often. In one of my favorite episodes, they talk about how before people dubbed films they were asking themselves, “How do we bring this film to a new audience?” One of the stories was about how they made two versions of the film, Dracula, one in Spanish and one in English. They filmed them simultaneously! So on a day of shooting, both would be filmed in the same place but with different actors, directors, [and everything]. The thing is, the Spanish one is superior! The whole crew had already done the English version just prior so they were like, “Oh! We know what we’re doing now!” Then they realized that’s not the most efficient way to dub films.
I also want to shout-out my friends, my buddy, Catch Wreck – he’s really great. I’ve made a bunch of his music videos so I’m very familiar with his entire process and he’s such a great person to be around. I also really like listening to Luis Miguel.
Why do you think radio is a powerful outlet for youth voice?
I think it’s a great outlet in general, for people. Teens specifically, are going through such giant shifts in their personalities that it’s actually kind of funny that they are on air to try those [different versions] of themselves out. What I’ve heard here so far is how some radio shows change over time and that makes total sense. I think it’s great for teens to be able to try out what they’re listening to, to speak, and to listen to others as well.
Radio is just another platform like music or film – and giving someone a platform is great. I’m particularly excited about radio because it’s more immediate. I’ve done a lot of work in film and that is a process in terms of hitting the record button, you can then go back and look at what you’ve got and what you don’t want. Radio doesn’t allow that, it requires that practice, and that’s one of things I find the most interesting about it.
How did you get involved in youth work, how did your journey land you here?
The story I’ve been telling is that I was a part of teen programs and then I fell into working with them – it almost wasn’t by choice. I was doing a lot of video work and started getting hired by the nonprofits I used to attend. I began to get involved in documenting classes, that led to TA positions in classes, soon I was being asked to propose my own projects for those same places.
There’s a reason kids come here and hang out here, there’s a reason I kept coming back to these places. For the past couple of years I’ve really been seeing that. [Radio] is an aspect that I haven’t really explored as much but [radio] is like a bug I remember having from when I was going to college. It’s just so great that these youth get the chance to do radio here and I can already see that same excitement in them. Hopefully the experiences that I’ve had can help [them in their learning]. I’ll be learning from them too, [I expect] they will break what I believe is “possible” on radio.