Expanding Youth Audio Programming Through Partnerships: Blunt Youth Radio Pandemic Edition


At WMPG’s Blunt Youth Radio we have reinvented our youth programming. Through new partnerships with The Nature Conservancy in Maine and the Portland Public Library, we are connecting with more youth, especially in immigrant communities, and offering a range of program entry points including virtual programming for smaller towns, all at no cost to participants. We are expanding our concept of youth radio to embrace the evolving media landscape where youth can share their voices.

During the Covid shutdowns, Blunt Youth Radio created a 12-week, virtual audio storytelling program for teens with a focus on climate activism. Using a combination of Zoom, Discord, Hindenburg, and cell phones for remote recording, we guided a group of high-school girls to listen to stories on climate issues, conduct interviews, and edit their stories in Hindenburg. The pieces aired on WMPG, were shared on PRX, and posted as audiograms on social media. Our partner for this project was the Nature Conservancy in Maine which provided financial support and promoted our story in their blog.

This summer, Blunt Youth Radio partnered with the Portland Public Teen Library (PPL) to run three one-day Intro to Audio Making workshops hosted at the library. Teens created their own vox pop stories through a process that went from listening, to using audio recorders and asking questions, to interviewing on the street, to editing in Hindenburg. WMPG and the PPL will post the pieces on their websites, and participants are invited to host a live kaleidoscope show at WMPG airing on August 24th, featuring all of the pieces they produced during the workshops.

These innovations respond to urgent needs at Blunt. One is to meet today’s youth in the media moment that they inhabit – by diversifying the types of media and technology that youth engage with to produce and share audio– along with terrestrial radio. Our second need is to actively work to make our resources free, accessible, and attractive to a wider range of Maine youth in terms of race, gender, social class and geographic remoteness. The third is to find partners who share our values of fostering youth empowerment through free, direct and ethical media access.

We are thrilled to continue to transform opportunities for youth in media. As we expand our partnerships to help youth apply skill and judgement to the resources at their fingertips, we’re excited to support them as they produce stories and take their voices seriously.