Youth radio show amplifies diverse voices – Twin Cities


Diversity, or the lack of it in mainstream public media, is a constant problem, especially in the radio and journalism spaces. However, there are groups working to change this. Listen ! Youth Radio is an organization that presents young people from under-represented groups with the platform and tools to get started in broadcasting.

According to a 2018 survey by the Radio Television Digital News Association, only 11.3% of the radio’s newsroom staff are people of color. According to a 2019 report from Nielsen Holdings, radio is the primary medium used by black Americans to consume media. Blacks and Hispanics make up one-third of the radio audience in America, but only 416 commercial radio stations are minority-owned, compared to 10,076 white-owned stations.

Although there are many minorities who listen to the radio, the management and staff of the station are not representative of the people who listen to them.

Giving young people the opportunity to express themselves through Listen Up !, especially if they come from under-represented groups, can help pave the way for the diversification of radio newsrooms. Supported by the Minnesota Humanities Center, St. Paul Foundation, and Youthprise, youth ages 14-24 have the opportunity to host a weekly live radio show and join other Listen Up! offers. Listen ! also works with primary school children.

Mia Lambert, 16, has joined Listen Up! as a broadcaster three years ago, when the organization was founded. Mia is now also a member of the youth board.

Initiatives such as Listen Up! enable people to hear the stories of minority youth who are often not taught in classrooms.

“Being able to learn the history of a certain people allows you to understand it and maybe even connect with it,” Mia said.

The limited history of people of color has been a tool for representing minorities in a certain way in the classroom.

“I think that by not having this well balanced story… the stereotype and aspects that you were taught about these kinds of people and the history that you learned all snowballed into prejudice.” , Mia said.

Listen ! hopes to reach more people in Minnesota in the coming years to help break down the stigma.

“I think that would be really great because our mission, our goal, is to give young people access to journalism, to radio or just to tell their story in general,” Mia said.

This access could be vital to ensure that future radio newsrooms better reflect their listeners.

“I think by allowing students access to journalism and radio – younger than older – it gives them those kinds of skills that are needed to get into these newsrooms,” said Mia.

Getting into professional newsrooms can be a challenge.

“I say to other young people, ‘Don’t lose confidence in yourself’, because sometimes it’s really hard to tell your story in journalism or on the radio, because there are different obstacles that you face, than it is racism or not being able to feel like you. are totally included in the story because of your race, your identity, your age. It is important that you know you have it. There are people who want to hear your story and who will support you. And even if there isn’t, you still have it yourself, ”Lambert said.

Minnesota Humanities Center

These reports were created by high school students from ThreeSixty Journalism’s Summer 2021 News Reporter Academy in partnership with the Minnesota Humanities Center.

ThreeSixty Journalism

ThreeSixty Journalism paves the way for the development of multicultural storytellers in the media arts industry. The program is a loudspeaker for voices heard, where highly motivated high school students discover the power of the voice and develop their own as part of ThreeSixty’s immersive college success program. Launched in 1971 as a chapter of the Urban Journalism Workshop, the program has been part of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas since 2001. To learn more about ThreeSixty Journalism, visit

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