More notes from KUER's listening tour: 'Young people have more of a vision'
The Ogden listening session panelists brought no shortage of exciting ideas to share with KUER at the fourth gathering of the station's listening tour. The group most often returned to how to include Ogden’s younger generations.
“Young people have more of a vision and an attraction for the future,” panelist Thaine Fischer said. “What is their future? What are they thinking about the future of Weber and their surrounding communities?”
Those questions led the group to consider how best to engage with Odgen’s youth, discussing fellowships and internships — perhaps in partnership with Weber State University or the Weber County Library System — as a couple of possibilities.
The challenge, though, as panelist Angel Castillo reminded the group, is to ensure that all students have the same opportunity to participate, stating that, “Internships are not equitable.”
Internships are generally low-paying positions, which means that they have traditionally been pursued by students who come from wealthier backgrounds. Raising the pay of these positions would give more students the chance for training that can guide their career choices and, eventually, their impact on their communities.
Both facilitator Joaquin Alvarado and panelist George Hall offered funding to ensure that these internship opportunities would be paid fairly.
In addition to a KUER internship, KUER staffer and panelist Renee Bright recommended restarting KUER’s partnership with Amir Jackson’s organization Nurture the Creative Mind, which, back in 2017, resulted in the podcast Hear Me Now.
Bringing together a group of Ogden teens with KUER producers, the Hear Me Now project taught young people how to conduct interviews, produce audio and shape a story. Restarting this project would give a new generation of Ogden students the chance to tell their stories and highlight stories within their communities.
Todd Oberndorfer, who hosts and produces a handful of Weber County-centric podcasts, said that his podcasts are “one of those little hidden things, but enough of those and they add up.”
Creating and sustaining Ogden-youth produced podcasts may also be one of those little things that could add up to stronger Ogden coverage.
One idea that took hold over the course of the evening was panelist Angel Castillo’s proposal to offer media training for nonprofit groups that may not have ever been taught how to engage with the press.
“If you’re not privileged to get an internship at a marketing or advertising agency, you’re never going to learn what a reporter needs, what they look for, how you pitch a story or develop a story so that the reporter trusts you,” Castillo said. “There are a lot of folks in the community that have issues that you don’t hear about because they don’t know how to get them to the media.”
In noticing over the years that neither Ogden nor Salt Lake City have an organization that offers training on “how you engage, champion your cause, how you lead, how you tell your story,” Castillo said that we need to teach these skills – especially to those groups who struggle to get ears and eyes on their causes.
By missing out on those stories, Castillo said, we’re “not celebrating the diversity that’s here.”
Facilitator Dave Jones asked an important question regarding the issue of diversity within the group gathered for these listening sessions: Who is missing in these conversations?
Many of the panelists shared people that KUER should continue reaching out to:
- Refugee community members
- K-12 teachers
- People with disabilities
- People from trade-based industries
- People experiencing homelessness
- Those returning to communities after incarceration
- People within the recreation industry
- The mayor or someone from the mayor’s office
- Other elected officials
- Community leaders
- People from county or school boards
As the evening came to a conclusion, KUER’s listening team – KUER/PBS Utah’s executive director Maria O’Mara, associate director of philanthropy Ja’Naye Payne, administrative assistant Molly Noonan and KUER general manager Cristy Meiners – acknowledged that they still have more listening work to do, particularly with communities of color. And they did make plans to follow up with the current panelists, both to share with them the specifics of what KUER will do with the information they gained during the listening sessions and to continue these conversations.
KUER expressed a number of times that these listening sessions are only the start of continued fact-finding and gathering to bring the best that KUER can offer to the Ogden area, an area important not just to Utah, but to all public radio listeners – a sentiment well expressed by KUER news director Elaine Clark.
“I have a firm faith in our listenership that they believe that stories about their neighbors matter," she said. "People listen to public radio because they want to expand their world.”