DIY Radio Rookies Tool Kit

WNYC’s Radio Rookies has been teaching teenagers in NYC how to create in-depth audio documentaries about their lives and communities for 15 years. WNYC works closely with these youth (aka the Rookies) in a close mentor-apprenticeship model, spending hundreds of hours on helping youth to master story selection, interviewing, editing, writing and voicing skills.

In partnership with Hive NYC, Radio Rookies worked with animator Masayoshi Nakamura to create a DIY Radio Rookies Toolkit to document and make more widely accessible the process of how they teach, produce and encourage others to create great radio content. The toolkit is a series of engaging resources including four animated shorts, all embedded within a digital comic book, “The Making of a Radio Rookies Story.”

The comic follows the dramatic tale of Keith Harris from the first day of the workshop to the morning his story airs to the public through radio station WNYC. By organizing all the content and materials in a comic book format, educators and youth can follow the process in a lively and engaging medium that tells the story of the process without a lot of jargon.  Users can click on small icons throughout the comic for work sheets, tips, links, and animated DIY videos. The toolkit also includes lesson ideas, prompts for educators and lists of additional resources. In addition to engaging with youth and educators, the DIY Toolkit is a model for other nonprofits interested in impacting their field and broadening their reach through digital tools.

The process of creating the DIY Toolkit pushed Radio Rookies staff to step back from their production process and break down the most replicable and critical elements of their work: such as coming up with a story idea, interview skills, and how to create a scene. Working with a professional animator further pushed the staff to consider what were the key ideas that needed to be communicated in each element and how animation might support and interact with the audio to relay the information in creative and interesting ways.

Radio Rookies created the DIY Toolkit to support educators and youth interested in replicating aspects of the program’s work. To date the animated shorts have been viewed more than 2,500 times and the comic book viewed over 750. Educators have reported producing podcasts and reported stories inspired by the materials. Students have reported learning effective interview skills and a clearer understanding of how to do story planning.

Radio Rookies is thrilled to have this toolkit to offer as a resource to educators, after school programs and interested youth. In the next phase of distributing the Toolkit, the program plans to create more extensive professional development for interested educators and to create effective evaluation and tracking tools to better understand the impact and challenges of rolling audio production out in the classroom.  One of the biggest challenges for teachers is finding time to bring a creative digital media project into the classroom setting, especially with all the pressures associated with high stakes testing. Radio Rookies plans to show how the skills are common core aligned (specifically in nonfiction writing and verbal and listening skills) and can be incorporated into existing curriculum.

Lead Organization:
Radio Rookies

Project Goal:
To provide both inspiration and resources for young people and educators interested in trying out some of the core elements of Radio Rookies production, including story selection, interviewing and storytelling.

Project Tags:
Media Literacy & Production, Youth Development & Leadership

Project Portfolio

  • teaching resources

    DIY TOOLKIT: COMIC BOOK - The Making of a Radio Rookies Story: From Day One to Air

    This online comic follows Radio Rookie Keith Harris from the first moment he picks up a microphone to the morning his story aired on WNYC.  Keith reported his documentary about how he learned to read and write while in high school.  Embedded throughout his stories are links to tip sheets and animated shorts that will deepen your understanding of the Radio Rookies production process.

  • teaching resources

    Radio Rookies DIY: Educators Guide to Teaching Interviewing Skills

    The first in a series of videos created in partnership with the Hive NYC Learning Network, this animated short, along with the accompanying resources, will help educators teach interviewing skills to students of all ages.

  • teaching resources

    DIY TOOLKIT: How to report your own story

    This animated DIY video along with the accompanying resources, will help educators teach students of all ages to report autobiographical stories about their own lives.

  • teaching resources

    How to Report on an Issue

    This short gives tips for asking difficult questions and how to approach a story with a unique perspective or angle. It aims to help the youth reporter infuse his or her own sensibility into the story. This DIY video encourages students to create original work from their own point of view.

  • teaching resources

    How to Make a Scene

    This video takes one scene within Keith Harris’s story radio documentary about learning to read and write in high school and deconstructs the elements – script, ambience, interview clips – to break down the fundamentals of producing a scene, the building blocks that create a radio story.

  • teaching resources

    Story Planning Worksheet

    Once a story topic is chosen, this document will help young people begin to plan and develop their story. It maps out all the key elements they’ll need: summarizing what their story is about, zeroing in on who the key players are in the story, and planning who they will interview, what they will ask, what sounds and scenes they’ll include.

  • teaching resources

    How to do Vox Pop

    Radio Rookie graduates Veralyn Williams and Vikky Cruz take the audience through a step-by-step guide to interviewing strangers, including: how to introduce oneself, the art of follow-up questions, and the importance of listening closely. This DIY short has become a central element in Radio Rookies’ interview workshop, which gives participants the chance to experience the process of creating a story in a short period of time.

     

  • teaching resources

    Recording and Interviewing Basics

    This tip sheet maps is an essential learning resource for how to conduct record interviews including descriptions of how and where to hold a microphone and what kinds of sounds need to be collected. It also breaks down the interviewing process and gives specific tips on how to begin and end and what kinds of questions to ask.

  • teaching resources

    Things to think about when you’re recording scenes and interviews

    This is a helpful resource to use to plan each interview and scene you record in a story. Answering the questions posed here will help young people focus their questions and plan for ways to incorporate sensory details into their storytelling.

  • teaching resources

    Voicing Narration Tip Sheet

    Here you’ll find tips for recording and voicing narration for a radio story, including prompts for writing for the ear and best practices for sounding like your authentic self in your story.

  • teaching resources

    Editing and Mixing Resources

    Here you’ll find additional resources for radio storytelling, from online youth media communities to free digital editing software, and go-to sites to answer your technical questions.

     

  • teaching resources

    Make Your Own DIY Video

    If you’re interested in creating your own DIY videos and resources for a skill you know something about, here is a remixable template to help get you started.  It’s in Mozilla Popcorn, an open source remix tool.