Station Spotlight | South Florida PBS: Bringing Youth Voice Front and Center
South Florida PBS is bringing youth voice front and center at its station by integrating student voice and youth perspectives into their regular programming. Immediately after the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the station reached out to SRL to find out if one of their weekly shows, Your South Florida, could incorporate student reactions from around the country into their show. As a result, a montage of student voices about the #NeverAgain movement aired. A couple of weeks later, the station used footage in their broadcast captured by Florida students for SRL on March 14 during the National School Walkout.
This past month, SRL students were also invited to attend an interactive community conversation that aired on Facebook Live, and Pam Giganti, the host of Your South Florida, brought SRL students into the studio to tape a segment about their stories for our Making it Work series on the future of jobs. We asked South Florida PBS’ Director of Production, Melissa Harmon, about the impact she and her team have made on our students in recent months and why her station is making youth voice a priority.
Why do you think it’s important to include the perspectives of young people on South Florida PBS and in particular, Your South Florida?
Including the SRL reporters and their teen perspectives help us better connect to our community. We think connecting with these kids has the potential to help us grow Your South Florida beyond our legacy public affairs audience of engaged, older viewers. When teens or young adults see other teens or young adults reporting the news or sharing their opinion, they can see themselves in the story.
What are the benefits for a station of connecting to a national youth media program like SRL?
The SRL students aren’t just reporting – they’re representing their generation on our air. Also – when adults see these kids reporting or sharing their ideas – they see that teens are interested in the world beyond their front door. That can spark conversations that may not otherwise take place.
Why did you think it was important to include student reactions from across the country on your show after the shooting in Parkland, Florida?
We knew that our community was traumatized by this event, and hearing from kids beyond South Florida showed our audience that this isn’t just impacting the kids in our backyard, it is impacting an entire generation of kids across the country.
What role do you think youth voice can play at every station?
I think youth voice can help reset perceptions that public affairs and news on public media are stodgy or cater only to the older audience.