Tech and Space Camp: ZUMIX Summer Radio Workshop

A lot of different motivations bring people through the old firehouse at ZUMIX. Parents bring their kids for a robust after school education; young-at-heart community members drop in to broadcast from the radio station; youth go in to learn, yes, but also to be young people. And that sometimes implies that, when you are given the power to choose the theme for the summer programs, you decide it is all going to be about space camp.

What brought Mariel through those doors this summer is the long-standing question of how we can use our existing windows into youth’s lives to promote critical thinking about the technologies in their everyday lives. What brings Brittany is the feeling of exploration that happens everyday in the radio studio, which she imagines to be similar to what Armstrong felt on the moon. But the beautiful thing about youth development is that it’s not about one or two forces dictating the path.

Some think that creating educational experiences is about choosing the wackiest ice breaker and pushing people through the right number of post-it brainstorms. But really, curriculum building is closer to juggling, pulling a vast number of elements into a symphony; facilitating is about encouraging a process of group thinking and learning process that fits within a larger pathway.
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Youth media literacy curriculum work tends to juggle three main components: technical skills, conceptual and analytical skills, and collaborative skills. In terms of ZUMIX radio workshops, the technical part involves learning the ins and outs of a radio studio, the software, the ZOOM recorder, and then the radio formats; conceptually, it’s about developing a grasp of the topic of choice — in our case, inner and outer space, and the technologies connecting them — and the ability to communicate those themes to each other and an audience; collaboratively, our youth practiced ways of working together to make a unified show, exploring the space camp theme selected by the ZUMIX Teen Council.

What this meant in practice for our summer radio program with youth, ages 13 to 17:

  • In terms of radio formats, we focused on the vox pop (meaning ‘the voice of the people’ — our link to outer space) to promote understanding of others’ perspectives; radio diaries (one person’s audio documentary of their day — our link to inner space) to promote richer reflections on the topic at stake. To explore the ‘colors’ of radio, we also designed a produced show introduction and sonic IDs.
  • In terms of the topic of analysis, we promoted tech reflection through exercises like ‘A Day in our Musical Lives’, critical discussions of app features like the Snapchat map and Jukedeck, best and worst case scenario exploration, and the interpretation of youth and adult tech perspectives from our ‘Tech Spectrogram’. From these exercises, our youth chose two topics, Snapchat and music technology, as the frames for each of their two radio shows.
  • In terms of radio communications skills, youth set goals for their own learning, through critical listening of their recorded radio work. The goals they determined after the recording of their first show were: improve the natural flow between the inner space and outer space segments, minimize ‘awkward silences’ and dead air, and practice voice tones and volumes.

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The broader youth development approach of the program (and ZUMIX as an organization) had an impact on different levels of the process. Our own co-facilitation involved Ana, a 14-year-old MLK intern at ZUMIX, who mastered ice breakers and her own radio production skills to facilitate the process for the group. The improvement of radio work was all based on the group’s own assessment and their own goals. And a lot of the class time was about creating opportunities for listening and talking about the portions of our lives that otherwise would not get discussed.

And then it’s about how all of this fits into a pathway; how this workshop builds on skills that youth have already developed in school and in other ZUMIX programs, and also crafting the steps that follow. We are happy for the launch of The Firehouse — a new daily radio program at ZUMIX, with collaborative themes and music curation, that aims to bridge the gap between the introductory course and independent youth-produced shows.

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In the end, helping youth realize their potential and their actuality implies connecting their pathway to a broader community. Youth media literacy work is about learning to communicate with others, from the ability to interview Nate Matias about Snapchat and Alexander Dorsk about music technology, to creating content that addresses community needs.

Despite this juggling of infinite elements, the intro radio program at ZUMIX is about creating empathy for your co-hosts on a radio show, and gratitude for the beautiful window radio provides into our communities. And if as an educator you are wondering about radio as an outlet to see this transformation happen, give it a try — wait until you see their faces when they listen to their own recordings on air.

You can find the curriculum for this program here.

You can also listen to ZUMIX radio, and see some tweets and other photos from the process.

Take a listen to an episode of Intergalactic Intersection!

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ZUMIX Radio Interviews IBA Youth

Last week, ZUMIX Radio host Dawry opened the studio doors to a bold a bright group of young people from the sound art program at Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA). This summer was the group’s first time experimenting with audio – writing commentaries and interviewing friends to create radio pieces on topics of their chooding. The pieces aimed to show that, big or small, our passions keep us moving.

Broadcast live on 94.9FM, IBA‘s show featured eight radio stories and brief interviews about the inspiration behind them.  Check out the recording below to hear more about the young people’s thoughts on net neutrality, their dominican identity, the importance of art-making, and dreams of becoming a pilot, to name a few.  Thanks so much to Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion and their dedicated instructor, Crystal Wegner, who led these youth through their first audio projects. We hope these are the first of many stories.

Wednesdays are where it’s at on ZUMIX Radio!

The team behind 94.9 ZUMIX Radio have been hard at work building a lineup jam packed with goodies you won’t hear anywhere else on the dial. Check out a sample of our new Wednesday shows, added to the mix this summer!

Midday Motivation Hosted by DJ Cinco P Beatz
Wednesdays 11am-12pm

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Looking for a jumpstart to your day? Tune in for an electric mix of EDM, Dubstep and Party music all spun live by DJ Cinco P Beatz, a Haitian American DJ who brings his passion for dance music to the studio who you can find more about here: http://www.djcincopbeatz.com

“I find myself preparing for a show every week & compared to a a party its totally different with a radio show being live on air it takes a whole different type of preparation. You might be waking up and be like ‘hey i wanna listen to this!’ to start your day and me being able to play EDM around that time hopefully gives them that little bit of motivation.” – DJ Cinco P Beatz

What’s Up Eastie? Hosted by Kannan Thiruvengadam
Wednesdays 12pm-1pm

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In this talk show, Kannan, an active resident of East Boston interviews thought leaders on a variety of social justice issues ranging from climate change, immigration and inequality.

“I’m doing this show to bring out awareness for issues that people feel in East Boston and also to get a context for that issue in larger sense like a regional or national level. ZUMIX is all about the youth and our future is all in there hands so the better they know the issues we’re facing today the better equipped they’ll be to shape their future.” – Kannan Thiruvengadam

Sakurata Radio Hosted by Sakurata Type~A
Wednesdays 1pm-2pm

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Playing Japanese and Korean music, Sakurata Type~A has an in-depth knowledge of asian music genres and runs a variety of rock/pop from overseas. She is returning to doing live shows this month after being on tour with LOKA, an alternative hard rock band from Tokyo, Japan. You can find more about the show here: https://www.sakurata.us

“SAKURATA RADIO is the latest show about Japanese and Korean music in the Boston area. We don’t just play music, we also learn about the people behind the music in our artist spotlights; so please tune in and have fun!” – Sakurata Type~A

Conservatory Lab Comes to ZUMIX

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This past week, the fearless Nic Benjamin, host of Monday Night Facts, interviewed a group of young brass musicians from the Conservatory Lab Charter School. In addition to his radio broadcasting skills, Nic also plays the trombone. Together, Nic and his guests shared fun facts about brass instruments and discussed the role of music in education. Take a listen to the following clips to hear Nic’s interview and three live songs performed by the Conservatory Lab:

Part I: What is Conservatory Lab?

Part II: Brass Instrument Fun Facts

Part III: Stand By Me

DJ Diamonds and DJ Lolz Shine Light on Living with Chronic Illness and Being Vision-Impaired

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Kaylene Sheran and Kat Raschi, aka DJ Diamonds and DJ Lolz, hosted a special episode of their weekly radio show, Friday Variety. In celebration of Heart Health Month and Low Vision Awareness Month, the co-hosts shared their own personal stories of living with chronic illness and being vision-impaired young people. Their courage, resilience and strength shines through every minute of this memorable radio discussion.

Part I: Kaylene’s Story

Part II: Gratitude

Part III: Kat’s Story / Challenges, Accomplishments & Ways to Help

ZUMIX DJ Carlos Perez Gets Exclusive Tour of AMP Radio

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Long-time ZUMIX DJ, Carlos Perez, has been working with his mentor, Matt Shearer, for almost 3 years. Throughout the course of their relationship, Carlos has grown into a confident and enthusiastic radio DJ, hosting a teen perspectives talk show called Alternative Adolescence. Together, Matt and Carlos have built a strong and caring relationship that acts as a model for what a mentor-mentee relationship can be. We are grateful to both of them for their consistent hard work and commitment to one another.

When Matt’s not mentoring at ZUMIX, he works as a professional radio producer at AMP Radio. This past week, Matt brought Carlos to his place of work for an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of AMP Radio — one of Boston’s biggest commercial stations. There, Carlos saw their impressive facilities and had the chance to talk with a number of well-known radio personalities. Here’s what Carlos had to say about his experience: “Getting the chance to see what a commercial radio station is really like, it opened my mind to what a career in radio could be. It was an overall great experience!”

Thanks, Matt! We’re so glad Carlos got this opportunity!

ZUMIX Radio DJ Manuela Melguizo Hosts Youth Musicians from Boys & Girls Clubs Across Boston

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Last week, ZUMIX youth DJ Manuela Melguizo and her mentor Andres Lombana-Bermudez hosted over 20 young musicians from Boys & Girls clubs across the Boston area: Charlestown, South Boston, Blue Hills, Roxbury, Chelsea and the Mattapan Teen Center. If you’ve ever been in the ZUMIX Radio studio, you know that we have only four guest mics. Thus, squeezing so many people into our space was a logistical challenge, and one that Manuela handled like a pro! She interviewed the group in two sections. During each session, she aired the young musicians’ tracks — each produced at their respective Boys & Girls Club — and followed-up with discussions about songwriting process and artistic inspiration. Take a listen to the following two recordings to hear an exciting collaboration between 94.9 FM ZUMIX Radio and Boston Boys & Girls Clubs.