Today is World Radio Day. And the theme this year is youth and radio. About half of the world’s population is the generation under 30 years old. The media landscape has changed dramatically for that generation and a lot of young people are producing all kinds of media, not just radio. At 14 years old, and through her high school years, Youth Radio’s Bianca Brooks started learning about journalism, and reporting on a variety of issues on many platforms – video, online apps, and radio. She liked radio most of all. Check out Bianca's description of the power of stepping in front of the microphone.
I search for the light switch on the wall, because the room is eerily pitch black and silent. When I find it, I nervously make my way over to the grey swivel chair that sits before the microphone. The lights above the outside door flash “Quiet Please” and the light attached to my microphone turns crimson red, as I speak almost in a whisper, “I’m Bianca Brooks with a perspective.”
That was the moment I found my voice. In a recording studio at the corner of 17th and Broadway in Oakland, I found out who I was. I became a storyteller of non-fiction prose, a talk radio news poet who made sense of the world by serving up the issues with the objectivity of John Burns, the narrative smoothness of Vin Scully, and a wit all my own.
Behind the thick steel door and layers of foam padding that resemble those of an insane asylum, I found my sanity.
The juxtaposition of the studio with where I come from is like night and day. To many of my teachers I was the "smart aleck." I was the 10-year-old hellion. I was told to face the corner and remain silent. But they had already lost me, because I realized at a very young age that people aren't made to be silent.
So in the recording studios at 17th and Broadway, I speak. I speak for the women in the sweatshops of Bangladesh. I speak for the students of color underrepresented in the AP system. I speak for women who choose not to wear brassieres, and I speak at the defense of young Republicans who really have better intentions than MSNBC often portrays. But most of all, I speak for myself. I sit in the studio and summon up the 10 year old hellion inside me. I channel that same girl, whose mouth moves quicker than her mind, who will never be satisfied with answers she doesn't find for herself. The girl who leans in, clears her throat, and says loudly and proudly, "I'm Bianca Brooks.”
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