DIY Toolkit: How To Find Your Radio Voice

DIY Toolkit: How To Find Your Radio Voice (Youth Radio Core Student Malachi reads a commentary live on-air for Youth Radio Raw.)

FINDING YOUR VOICE. You’ve done the research, you’ve written your script… now it’s time to step up to the mic and read. But if you really want to breathe life into your story, you can’t just read it— you have to perform it. So what goes into a good vocal performance? How do you sound casual, and authoritative? How do you sound like you’re talking to a friend, when you know you’re actually reading off a paper? Learn some of the tricks of the trade for effective voicing in this lesson.

ACTIVITY : How To Read Without Sounding Like It: *ALL MATERIALS INCLUDED*

This lesson, developed by producers and reporters at Youth Radio, helps students to develop a critical ear attuned to the components of an effective read.  Students will listen to two Youth Radio commentaries (text provided as well as links to the original posts, both centering on environmental themes) and then run their own mock recording session and critique.

For the full lesson plan (including instructor notes, commentary text and handouts) click here.

Listening Example #1:There Are No Children Here” (Youth Radio commentary by Joshua Clayton). This commentary, which aired on KQED in San Francisco, touches on Youth Radio reporter Joshua Clayton’s complicated relationship with his neighborhood in West Oakland.  For a PDF of the script, click here.

Listening Example#2:  “Rethinking Fast Fashion” (Youth Radio commentary by Bianca Brooks). This commentary, which aired on Living on Earth, was written by Youth Radio reporter Bianca Brooks shortly after a garment factory collapse in 2013 in Bangladesh that killed over 1,000 people. During her international travels, Bianca had also had a chance to visit a garment factory, which made her rethink the way she shopped for clothes. For a PDF of the script, click here.

Handout: Youth Radio has developed a handout for both of these commentaries, which will guide students through the elements of voicing.  Download the handout by clicking on the full lesson plan above, or as a solo PDF by clicking here.

VIDEO: PROFESSIONAL Q&A – How to find your radio voice

From tricky vocabulary to long technical explanations, science and environmental stories can be particularly challenging to voice well. Youth Radio reporter Sophie Varon talks with science journalist Eric Simons, Editorial Director of Bay Nature Magazine and co-host of The Field Trip Podcast, about his tips for a great radio voice — no matter what the subject.



This Lesson Plan is part of a larger effort by Youth Radio’s Innovation Lab for young people, working in partnership with veteran educators, to develop materials that will enable teachers and learners everywhere to engage youth in media and tech creation. Launched in 2013, the Innovation Lab leverages Youth Radio’s top-flight journalism and our track record as one of the first programs worldwide that teaches teens to design dynamic new storytelling tools and platforms by integrating journalism and programming. For more information about Youth Radio’s Innovation Lab, check out


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Invest in the diverse voices that will shape and lead the future of journalism and art.
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