Youth Beat Radio Gives Young People a Voice

By Stephanie Wise
Outreach and Engagement Communications Intern

Young people are inundated every day with messages from the media, but opportunities to be the ones shaping and sending the messages are rare. Youth Beat Radio, a radio program produced by students from The Ohio State University, Central Ohio high schools, and youth organizations, gives them a chance to talk to the community from their perspective.

"As far as being involved in decision making processes in communities and leadership roles, there's not a lot of opportunity (for youth)," said Kristi Lekies, associate professor in the School of Environment and Natural Resources and the creator of Youth Beat Radio. "I wanted to design the show as a way to promote that. To provide a way for young people to speak about their experiences, and alert the rest of the community to some of the wonderful things that young people are doing. I think there also is an emphasis of seeing young people in the media as perpetrators of violence or victims of violence, not as active contributing citizens. I really wanted to show that youth are currently and can be involved in meaningful roles in their communities."

Youth Beat Radio Class

Photo courtesy of Youth Beat Radio.

Designed for audiences of all ages, Youth Beat Radio is an invaluable facet of Ohio State in terms of bringing different issues to light. Due to the show being sponsored by the School of Environment and Natural Resources, the topic of environmentalism frequently surfaces. Other than environmental issues the show also focuses on youth empowerment, community engagement, and youth concerns, allowing listeners to learn how they can make a difference both in their own lives and the community around them.

Early on in her career, Lekies focused on children and youth, so the idea for this show seemed to mesh well with her interests. The show is now a part of her community and environmental education outreach initiative for the Central Ohio area.

"It was one of these ideas that just came to me - why not just do a youth radio program related to youth leadership and community service; community action? Feature the ways young people are involved in their communities and are taking a lead in making a difference solving some of the serious problems we have," said Lekies.

Maddie Graham, a fourth-year in strategic communication, used to be a part of Youth Beat Radio and was able to discuss the program.

"Youth Beat Radio empowers students, or just youth in general, to take part of their lives and make sure they are doing all they can to foster growth and creativity," said Graham.

The show airs every Monday on the community radio station WCRS LP 102.1 and 98.3 FM. Consistently making quality shows also is a test for the team that works on the program.

"It takes a lot to produce a show," said Graham. "We would be producing shows two months before hand...it takes so much, and sometimes you have to reschedule interviews because your audio might be bad; just something comes up. It's Murphy's Law- if something can happen, it will happen."

Youth Beat Radio class

Photo courtesy of Youth Beat Radio.

With all the work that goes into the production of such a show, there are some clear goals in mind for those who hear the end product.

"I would hope that people would take the information we gave them, and kind of look introspectively into themselves...it all relates into how can you impact and empower yourself after hearing this," said Graham.

James Ebright, director of WCRS Columbus Community Radio, spoke about the value of hosting a show like Youth Beat Radio, saying it is a good start to giving airtime for student broadcasters, who are under-represented on the airwaves.

Not only does the program deserve recognition for its content, it also is worthy for the fact that it is well put together.

"The presentations are almost always technically and artistically strong," said Ebright. "Externally it has been cited as one of the most interesting shows we carry. Some of these shows are gems. People like them when they hear them."

Tune in on Mondays at 7:30 p.m. to either 102.1 or 98.3 FM to hear Youth Beat Radio.


Contact: Kristi Lekies, lekies.1@osu.edu

Program website: http://youthbeat.osu.edu