Dispatches From Within, a youth-produced series focused on teen mental health from WFDD's Radio 101 program, has brought home multiple prestigious journalism awards, affirming the strong work of the students and the value and success of this education initiative.
The series received a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for Excellence in Innovation. It was also recognized by the Public Media Journalists Association (PMJA) with a Second Place award in the Series category, and a First Place award for Multi-Media Presentation in the Student category, the field of which is primarily college-level interns or fellows. These are highly competitive awards in which WFDD competes against many public media stations with larger staffs and budgets.
Additionally, the Radio 101 class and its Dispatches From Within series were honored with several awards from the North Carolina Scholastic Media Association (NCSMA) in its Radio/Podcast division, including both of its highest honors: The Tar Heel Award and the All-North Carolina Award. These awards are given to student media that “demonstrate excellence in all areas of journalism, combining effective writing and design with broad and diverse coverage.” The NCSMA also recognized the Radio 101 class in the following section awards: Audio, First Place; Editing, First Place; and Production, Second Place.
Individual students in the Radio 101 class were recognized by the NCSMA in the Feature Story category: First Place, Thomas Hunter and Phillip McCallister; Second Place, Melvin Abuaku and Chase Orie; Third Place, Chloe Patterson, Shaelyn Sebastian, and Bailey Wickline; Honorable Mention, Watson Carter, Janay Brokenborough, and Sophie Welch.
Radio 101 has been in existence since 2011 and is part of WFDD's Hive® youth education initiative. Initially offered as an after-school program, it has grown to include a for-credit, honors-level class embedded at R. J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem. Gabriel Maisonnave, WFDD's Hive® Program Manager, develops the curriculum and teaches the class; the content is produced by the students. “The awards are a reflection of the amount of work that the students put into every story. For over three months, they spend every single day contacting sources, setting up interviews, writing scripts, and mixing audio just to produce a five-minute piece and start over again for three more months. It's extremely labor-intensive, but they are gaining skills that they'll take with them wherever they go. The Radio 101 class at R. J. Reynolds is a unique experiment in amplifying youth voices through public media and these awards are evidence that those voices are sorely needed,” said Maisonnave.
The Radio 101 class at R. J. Reynolds High School is possible through a distinctive partnership between WFDD and the school, which allows for a WFDD Hive® Program Manager to teach within the school while giving student work broader reach through the station's broadcast coverage area and beyond. The series feature “I'm Fat, I'm Ugly, and I'm Stupid” was carried by the nationally distributed program Here & Now, and an hour-long special created from the full series was broadcast by KOSU in Oklahoma and WAMU in Washington, D.C., in addition to being aired on WFDD.
Mr. Calvin Freeman, principal of R. J. Reynolds High School, commented, “The Radio 101 class is a place where students can explore subjects that have an impact on their daily lives. As such, students get the opportunity to unpack subjects that make their world real and relevant to them. This is learning in its purest form and I am glad that Mr. Maisonnave provides direction and allows freedom for discovery and thought. The work the students have done is a pride point for our school and we are really excited and proud for them. I look forward to continued greatness!”
The individual feature stories, as well as the one-hour special, can be heard here. Radio 101 at R. J. Reynolds High School has seen a consistently high enrollment rate, and the coming fall semester is no exception. Students in the class will take on their next topic when the new school year convenes this fall. More information about WFDD's Hive® education program, which in addition to Radio 101 includes Radio Camp, Radio 101 Pocket Editions, and Radio Camp for Grown-Ups, can be found here.