The Brooklyn Public Library offers a variety of programs related to oral history and audio recording. For example, Stephanie Elstro, a winner of the first round of Bklyn Incubator, created the Bklyn Mixtape Podcasting Club for adults at the Info Commons. I propose to elaborate on this idea by creating a kit of recording equipment at Canarsie Library, and hosting podcasting programs for teenagers.
Podcasts are important, accessible, sources of information. With the proliferation of smartphones and the Internet, podcast subscriptions are affordable and fairly easy to approach. The number of Americans listening to podcasts has grown steadily since 2013. 21% of Americans ages 12 and older state they have listened to a podcast in the last month (Pew 2016). News organizations, large and small, increased their investment in podcasting between 2015 and early 2016 (Pew 2016).
According to NPR’s official Youth Desk, Youth Radio, podcasts are also a great medium to teach to students. They are free form, creative, and the appropriate recording equipment is relatively affordable (youthradio.org). Anyone with the basic equipment and knowhow can share their story by publishing a podcast.
For the Bklyn Incubator, I propose to host a youth radio podcasting workshop series at Canarsie Library. Local teenagers can come together and share stories about their lives, their schools, and their communities while learning how to produce a podcast. Current social issues will be the guiding theme of the workshops. Although there will be basic format guidelines, teens will have the freedom to choose what they want their stories to be about. As a whole, the KNRC Youth Radio Podcast will represent snapshots of the lives of Canarsie teenagers and what they care about.
Canarsie Library is located in a low-income neighborhood in East Brooklyn. Many residents in Canarsie are of Caribbean heritage, or are recent immigrants, with a large percentage of Haitian families. The library is across the street from the Canarsie High School campus, which houses several smaller high schools for local youth. Marie Edwards, the Canarsie High School librarian, says that her students are currently passionate about discussing social issues. After the turbulent election this past year, students are eager to voice their opinions, and the library can provide a safe space for youth to express themselves.
The KNRC Youth Radio Podcast program will take place for 6 weeks after school between September and October of the Fall 2017 semester. Eligible participants must be between the ages of 13 and 18, willing to attend the introductory workshops, and sign the appropriate waivers. Jamie Courville, a storyteller and audio expert, will be the lead instructor of the workshops. Her experience with multimedia and her dedication to crafting stories make her a great fit for the position. I have experience working with kids, hold a degree in Journalism, and am passionate about creative technology and digital literacy. I will assist Jamie with the workshops, and will continue to support interested patrons beyond the life of the grant.
The series will begin with 3 introductory workshops on podcast styles, writing a story, interviewing, recording sound, and editing audio files with digital recording software. After completing these workshops, participating teens will be considered certified to use recording equipment.
After the initial workshops, 3 lab sessions will follow in which teens can use the equipment to work on their projects, and ask the instructor questions. Those who are certified may also reserve the recording kit for use inside of the library meeting room, depending on availability. The kit will include: a flash recorder, microphone and mic stand, 3 sets of headphones, 3 laptops, a mixer, 3 external hard drives, and soundproofing baffles. When the equipment is not in use, it will be securely stored inside of the meeting room.
Finished, approved, podcast episodes will be streamed online on SoundCloud and iTunes. To celebrate the hard work of the podcasters, Canarsie Library will host a Listening Event on the last day of the program series. Podcast episodes will be played, and there will be a Q&A session with the participants afterwards.
Participants will complete surveys before the workshop begins to establish a reference point. They will be asked to provide feedback throughout the program series, as well as a follow-up survey afterwards. Hopefully, participants will continue to share their stories and produce podcasts even once the official workshops have concluded.