Written by Alena Kuczynski
With so many adult voices on the airwaves, it's easy for a young person in radio to feel out of place. But at the second annual Digital Waves Youth Media Festival this past weekend, those above the age of 20 were in the minority. Participants came from near and far -- a group from Blunt Radio, which co-hosted the event, even traveled down to the city by bus from Maine to take part in Digital Waves. Throughout the day, attendees took advantage of various workshops and information sessions, and competed in a multimedia slam judged by journalists from WNYC and beyond.
Not surprisingly, festival-goers' levels of previous radio experience varied greatly. Some were Radio Rookies graduates themselves, having learned to record sound, write scripts, and edit audio, or were young aspiring freelance producers seeking to hone a particular skill. Others merely had an interest in radio, or came along with a friend. But regardless of experience level, the workshops were accessible and engaging, with topics ranging from interviewing strangers to hacking the news.
One workshop, led by Catrin Einhorn of the New York Times, focused on strategies for creating multimedia slideshows, among other things. Participants were asked to listen to a short audio clip and arrange photographs into a compelling narrative to accompany the audio track. While individuals' arrangements differed, students in the workshop were unified in their ability to utilize the techniques presented in order to combine audio and visual elements in a meaningful way. Another workshop, led by Radiolab producer Sean Cole, was entitled, "Admit It: You Exist." In the workshop, Cole facilitated a discussion of when and how to include subjective experience, or a sense of self, into the narration of a piece. For Meghan Lasala, 25, the workshop was a prompt to consider inserting her own voice into an in-progress story.
Then came the slam. Eager contestants presented clips of their audio and multimedia pieces in four rounds, vying for top scores (as determined by the panel of judges) and audience approval. Among those who submitted pieces to be judged were Jean Luc Antoine and Samuel Laloi, both 17, who moved from their homes in Haiti to New York City after 2010's catastrophic earthquake. Their piece included photographs of the damage done to their communities, as well as a discussion of how they are learning to adapt to life in New York. Jean Luc, in addition to gaining exposure through Digital Waves, went home with a pair of new Sony headphones thanks to a winning raffle ticket. "I listen to a lot of music at home," he said. "I didn't have [a pair of headphones], but now I have one."
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