Station Spotlight | WHYY

WHYY has been a big part of SRL due, in part, to its great relationship with one of its education producers Lisa Wilk, who has been an instrumental part of making SRL a success in Philadelphia. Wilk has helped various students produce pieces about women entrepreneurs and artists to stories about ethnic diversity within the city of Philadelphia. We spoke to her about WHYY and its impact on youth voice.

How does the Student Reporting Labs program benefit your station’s short and long-term goals?

WHYY is renowned for the educational kids’ programs it broadcasts on TV, but when it comes to supporting kids as they grow up, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. WHYY’s education initiatives support children and parents, teachers, and other adults who care for them. We offer free lesson plans, hands-on media arts training at WHYY’s Philadelphia Studios and more. Our signature program, WHYY Media Labs, is a partnership with more than 36 schools across Philadelphia that brings equipment and instruction to thousands of students each year.

For schools that have not received a Media Lab, WHYY’s Education Department connects its teachers and students to the staff at Student Reporting Labs. Franklin Learning Center and The Linc are two schools that have benefited this year from this partnership. Students at both schools have received additional support from SRL to help elevate their media production to the next level.

Why do you think it’s important to include the perspectives of young people at your local station? 

WHYY’s Education Department believes in the power of student’s voice and supports their efforts by providing multiple opportunities for them both in the studio and in their communities. Many issues young people face are reported in the news but stations neglect to provide their perspective. That’s why WHYY has created programs that give youth a voice and create content on issues they care about. Through our after-school, summer, and media lab programs we are able to spread their voices in news articles, youtube, and public screenings. This summer WHYY will be providing paid summer opportunities for teenagers at WHYY and other local media organizations. Over the course of three years, 105 jobs will be provided to students who have participated in one of our after-school or summer programs.

Recently, producers of WHYY’s You Oughta Know selected a video package made by students at The Linc to be shown on a later episode. This video was produced by the students from the school with the assistance of WHYY and SRL staff. This film has provided a deeper conversation with the show to hire two teen assistants this summer and develop an ongoing call out for videos.

What role do you think youth voice can play at every station?

Every public media station can truly benefit from providing opportunities for youth voice. The content offered on PBS stations tend to focus on children and adult audience but forgets to include engaging content for teenagers. By allowing local teenagers to participate in the creation of news packages, stations will gain a new audience and perspective for their station.