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KJZZ and Rio Salado College Co-sponsor High School Radio Program

Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 01:03

KJZZ Rio Salado

Ryan A. Ruiz

KJZZ associate general manager Louis Stanley oversees the instalation of teh network server at 37th Avenue and Thomas Road in Phoenix where Rio Salado Community College and KJZZ, are partnering to provide an after school program teaching students 12 to 24 all aspects of digital media production

A building at 37th Avenue and Thomas Road in Phoenix will soon be known as to students participating in a new radio program co-sponsored by KJZZ and Rio Salado College.

It’s the IP address and inspiration for the name of the new after-school program SPOT 127, said Lou Stanley, the associate general manager at the radio station KJZZ.

SPOT 127 will mentor students on all aspects of digital media including radio, television, graphic design and online content. The curriculum, which is still being worked out, will provide hands-on instruction in news, grammar, ethics, critical thinking, broadcast news writing and media law.

Students will learn digital media skills and produce packages that have the potential to be aired on NPR, Stanley said, adding that this is a way to get students excited about media and working on something they can take pride in.

The mentor program will last one full school year, after which students can continue to work on projects at Spot 127 and become a peer mentor to incoming students.

This summer, a core group of 20 students will begin working with Spot 127. To become a part of that core group, students must submit a written statement about why they want to be a part of the program or what part of media interests them and take part in a personal interview with a member of the radio staff.

Students must be between the ages of14 and 24 and working toward their high school diploma or GED.

Although students will be expected to make a time commitment to the program, it has not been finalized how many hours per week students are expected to be at the studio or working on their projects, said Jennifer Shantz, the interim vice president of academic affairs at Rio Salado.

“[The students] will be responsible for the show going on air each day,” Shantz said, adding that the program will teach students responsibility and self confidence.

The station created a smaller version of the program, Teen Radio Project, in the spring of 2007 after a station donor heard about a youth radio program and asked why there wasn’t one in Phoenix. The Teen Radio Project originally worked with Arcadia High School before moving to South Mountain High School and Dobson High School.

“We wanted to work with youth and give them their voice to our listeners,” Stanley said.

At Dobson High School there was no radio program in place and students had to give up their lunches to work on their projects. The lack of time in their schedules and a lack of physical space for work led the program to dissolve at that site.

South Mountain, however, has a radio program and maintained the Teen Radio Project since 2007.

In 2009, KJZZ underwent a change in leadership when Jim Paluzzi became the general manager of the station. At the time, South Mountain students were producing stories on teenage pregnancy, homeless youth and drugs on campus, Stanley said.

Students were able to get interviews that an adult reporter would never get because students felt more comfortable talking to their peers, Stanley said. When Paluzzi heard these stories, he decided the program needed to be bigger than the 12 students at South Mountain.

A team from KJZZ and Rio Salado College went to visit Youth Radio in Oakland, California, to learn how they could build a comparable model in Phoenix. When speaking with the director at Youth Radio, Stanley said they were told it would be best to partner with a public radio station or community college rather than try and go at it alone.

To create a program in Phoenix, organizers had to find a space to give the students a place to work. A building located at 37th Avenue and Thomas Road in Phoenix had once been home to a digital high school for the Phoenix Union High School District, but the program had since been moved to Camelback High. The station was able to get the building, which was renovated five years prior and came prewired for digital media.

In the beginning, there will be the core 20 students as well as a few outreach programs at South Mountain High School and possibly Camelback High. Students from the outreach programs will have access to the SPOT 127 building to work on their projects.

Organizers hope to expand the program to help 60 to 100 students each year, Stanley said.



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