Terrascope Youth Radio Hits the Airwaves

By Ari Epstein, Lecturer, Earth Systems Initiative

Terrascope Youth Radio, a project in which local urban teens produce radio programming on environmental topics, has gotten off to a running start this summer. The program, an NSF-funded partnership between MIT and the City of Cambridge Youth Programs, began in early July and had its first broadcast in early August.

Teen participants, who range in age from 14 to 18, have learned to record and edit sound using state-of-the-art equipment and software, and they have worked in teams to develop story ideas, write and voice scripts, and produce their pieces. They have also developed and exercised their interviewing skills, both in everyday settings and in visits to scientific laboratories and facilities, including MIT, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole. Advice and technical assistance are provided by local youth workers, as well as by faculty, staff and students from the Terrascope program at MIT.

In the project’s second week, the teens were presented with a formidable challenge: Blunt Youth Radio, a partner organization based in Portland, Maine, had an open programming slot just two weeks away. Could the Terrascope Youth Radio teens produce enough quality material to fill an hour-long live show by the end of only their fourth week as producers? Yes they could, and so on August 4 they traveled up to Portland, where they played some of their work and were interviewed on-air by youth hosts from Blunt.  The pieces ranged from 30- and 60-second “sonic IDs” and “science minutes” to longer-form VoxPop (person-in-thestreet) collages and reviews of such topics as green building, rising oil prices and how to be an environmentally-conscious shopper.

The project will end its six-week summer intensive session in mid-August and continue as an after-school program beginning in mid-September. Cambridge teens who are interested in participating can apply through the city’s Area IV Youth Center. For more information about the program, please contact Ari Epstein at awe@mit.edu or (617) 253- 3666.