How do you get young people who might not even own a radio to fall in love with audio storytelling?
That's the mission of our annual Radio Camp, a weeklong program for high school students in partnership with ThreeSixty Journalism at the University of St. Thomas. Over two one-week camps, 16 students from diverse backgrounds in Minnesota worked with veteran reporters and editors at MPR News to learn the basics of what we do: field recording, interviewing, writing stories and voicing their own scripts.
The camp was created to honor the legacy of Toni Randolph, a longtime MPR News journalist and champion of ThreeSixty. Toni believed newsrooms should reflect the diversity of the communities they serve.
The theme of the 2021 camp is youth interviewing youth to reveal youth experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest.
The results? Inspiring, sound-rich radio storytelling — featuring the students' own voice tracks and the audio they gathered in the field — mixed by a professional sound engineer.
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Listen to all of the students' pieces below.
Making changes through actions
Cole Stevens, activist and co-founder of Bridgemakers
By Zaraia Fabunmi
Cole Stevens lost his job in the early days of the pandemic when he was a high school senior. He tried to get unemployment assistance, but was told that he wouldn't qualify until after graduation. So he sued the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and won in court last year.
Later, Stevens created a group, Bridgemakers, because he wanted to give fellow youth of color the opportunity to learn about financial literacy and create lasting change in their communities.
Jose Perez, board treasurer-secretary of Bridgemakers
By Joaquin Skinaway
Jose Perez is a young activist with Bridgemakers. Perez, a son of immigrants who grew up on St. Paul’s east side, says his community has shaped who he is.
Aaliyah Murray, founder of Minnesota Teen Activists
By Delaney Villebrun
When Aaliyah Murray, 16, saw George Floyd being murdered by police on a video, she felt called to action for the first time in her life. That's why she created an Instagram account, Minnesota Teen Activists, that now has 24,000 followers.
Nelsie Yang, St. Paul City Council member
By I-Am Tafari
Nelsie Yang is the youngest person ever elected to the St. Paul City Council. The 26-year-old is no stranger to being the new kid on the block. She's the youngest of five kids and a daughter of Hmong refugees who came to the U.S. from a camp in Thailand after fleeing a war in Laos. Yang said her upbringing as a child of refugees growing up poor and her training at helping people came together when a seat opened up on the City Council.
Jerome Treadwell, teen activist and youth president of the St. Paul NAACP
By Maximus Jennings
Seventeen-year-old Jerome Treadwell says that he often finds himself an outcast in his class and that he felt like many accelerated classes in his school weren't accessible to students of color like himself. That experience, Treadwell says, motivated him to amplify voices of Black youth and give opportunities and platforms for them to excel.
Sanya Pirani, founder of Sanya's Hope for Children
By Jaydin Fairbanks
At age 7, Sanya Pirani started helping children in need by making and selling bookmarks and donating $500 to a crisis nursery. When she was 10, she founded her nonprofit, Sanya’s Hope for Children — a student-led organization to help kids meet their basic needs. Now she's 14, going to Prior Lake High School, and still running that charity foundation.
Fighting for their future — and the planet
Juwaria Jama, youth climate activist
By Emijah Redding
Juwaria Jama, a 17-year-old youth organizer who grew up in north Minneapolis, works with students of color to spread the word about climate issues and their impact on racial justice. As part of the effort, she helped organize a climate strike at the state Capitol involving almost 10,000 people.
Annie Chen, youth climate activist with Climate Generation
By Freyja Armitage
Annie Chen, who will be a senior at Mayo High School in Rochester this fall, says she never learned about climate justice in school. She's made it her mission to help other students to learn about it.
Isabelle Wong, youth climate activist with Climate Generation
By Aleah Hill
Nearly 10,000 miles away, Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia, is sinking due to climate change. To Isabelle Wong, a 17-year-old recent high school graduate and daughter of immigrants from Southeast Asia, it’s about her family and others she knows who someday might be climate refugees. And that’s what pushes her to fight for change.
Keeping on playing — and dreaming
Charlie Barnes, St. Paul Saints player
By Casey Hiller
Charlie Barnes grew up playing baseball in South Carolina and like many kids, he dreamed of one day making it to the major leagues. Drafted in 2017 by the Minnesota Twins, the now 25-year-old continues playing just 10 miles down the road from the major league team and working his way up through the ranks.
Allie McIntosh, singer-songwriter
By Zane Hiller
Unlike most high school juniors, Allie McIntosh, a 15-year-old singer-songwriter from Eden Prairie, isn't spending her summer worrying about a part-time job or playing sports. The rising talent is instead choosing to spend her time honing her musical skills in preparation for studio work with producers in Los Angeles.
Juice Lord, hip-hop artist
By Kiin Aden
St. Paul rapper Juice Lord found his passion for music growing up and listening to his parents favorite records. The 25-year-old was inspired to make his own music that can convey his feelings about what's happening society to speak for his community. He hopes his new album out this month connects with people around the world and becomes something people can vibe with for generations.
Reuben Stately, hip-hop artist
By Jeremiah Churchill
Reuben Stately is a Dakota and Ojibwe college student at Augsburg University who has a dream side job as a hip-hop artist. While the pandemic and recent unrest slowed down his career, Stately has been keeping himself busy by practicing and preparing his music.
Yonci Jameson, host of ‘Mostly Jazz’ on KFAI
By Ava Hartwell
Yonci Jameson has been on the weekly program “Mostly Jazz” on KFAI community radio in Minneapolis since she was 15. Her great-grandmother started the show in 1995, and Jameson was on the program almost as soon as she could talk, although she didn't join her grandfather as host until about seven years ago. Now, she's using her voice and the radio show to highlight her Black heritage and diversity it represents.
Julian Green, intern with The Current
By Isaac-Santino Garcia
Julian Green relocated from Milwaukee, where he was born, to the Twin Cities to pursue his dream of music. But until he got to college at the University of Minnesota, he wasn't sure what a career in the music world would look like. Green started from scratch with no connection or network in a new city, but he was persistent. Eventually, he became involved with Radio K as a program director and moved on to The Current, saying a fond farewell to college radio last year.
DJ Taylor, Minnesota United FC player
By Jamari Jones
The Minnesota United FC welcomed DJ Taylor this year. He has big plans for the team and for his platform. He's not only passionate about soccer, but he's also an entrepreneur and a racial justice activist. The North Carolina native spent his youth playing academy soccer and moved on to play in Spain for a couple years before returning to play professionally in his home state.