Delaware Public Media (DPM) is the first and only noncommercial public media news service established and headquartered in Delaware and the only NPR affiliate licensed in the state.
We have relied on community partnerships since our founding in 2009. Our two primary partners are the University of Delaware (UD) and Delaware State University (DSU). We provide instruction and internships for their journalism, communications, and media students, many of whom are able to compile a portfolio of NPR-quality material.
In 2014, as part of our desire to help train future journalists in the highest standards of news gathering and reporting, we worked to broaden our partnerships to include Delaware high schools with their own radio stations. We wanted to provide high school students with opportunities for hands-on learning about how to tell their own stories and the stories of others. We were inspired by programs like YR Media and Joe Richman’s Radio Diaries.
Our first high school initiative was with the Brandywine School District, where we established “Generation Voice” in conjunction with the radio station at Mt. Pleasant High School, WMPH 91.7. Since then, this previously after-school club activity has evolved into a curricular pathway in digital media arts in their Career and Technical Education offerings. We have coached approximately 50 students there each year for the past 5 years.
The success of the Mt. Pleasant program led us to forge a relationship with the Red Clay Consolidated School District, and the radio station at Thomas McKean High School, WMHS 88.1. Working with faculty and students in the school’s Audio, Radio, and Video Engineering career pathway, we launched “Generation Voice” at McKean at the start of the 2018-19 school year. Approximately 20 students participated in the first year.
We collaborate on curriculum development with faculty at both high schools, and our reporters work with the students at their stations. We help them learn how to write copy for broadcast, how to conduct phone interviews, and how to host live on-air programs. Both stations simulcast our morning and afternoon drive programming, with students providing their own news breaks.
In the past year, Generation Voice students have written and produced features on colorism, teen vaping, youth immigration, gun violence, and other topics. In addition to news stories, students have written and produced creative storytelling podcasts. We also help students produce and edit projects such as an annual series of parent/grandparent interviews done in the manner of the StoryCorps Great Thanksgiving Listen and a recent series focuses on the 1960’s civil rights unrest in Wilmington, Del.
The effectiveness of the Generation Voice program was evident in the Delaware Press Association’s 2019 High School Communications contest: WMPH students won first-, second-, and third-place awards and an honorable mention in the “Radio Prepared Report” category.