The ZUMIX Radio studio is a warm, windowless room, with two lights and a table at the center with five microphones. Sitting at the engineer’s chair, you’ll see the soundboard has lots of buttons. On the computer, you choose the music for your show, like Paramore or Arctic Monkeys or Red Hot Chili Peppers. Then, you start thinking about your topic for the week. As the time for your show to begin approaches, you feel anxious, but excited to talk about topics people are interested in. When you finally press the big red button to turn your mic on, you feel even more nervous. Then, your show begins. You’re on the air.
I go to the radio studio every Wednesday because it makes me feel like my voice is heard. People are listening to my opinions and that makes me feel important. I am a part of ZUMIX Radio, a youth based radio station in East Boston, because it has helped me find my voice. Youth radio is a big part of my life and I wanted to see how it’s also a huge part of others’ lives.
I spoke to Angelina Botticelli, another youth host at ZUMIX Radio and found out radio has also impacted her in similar ways. Botticelli started with ZUMIX in 2012 and still has a weekly show—Bad Gal Radio, where she talks about social justice issues, feminism and music. Like other youth DJs at ZUMIX, Botticelli makes her show her own. “It’s helped me be very comfortable with my thoughts and opinions,” she said. “It's given me the platform to share my ideas and what I want to see happen, because I talk about a lot of social justice issues and community events, and I talk about things that impact me as a woman.”
Like ZUMIX, Yollocalli Arts Reach is a youth-based art initiative. However, they are based in Chicago, where they broadcast two hours per week from a low-power FM station, Lumpen Radio. Gerry Salgado was one of the first youth participants in the radio class and stuck around for a few years. Now he helps out with the production of the weekly show. “Our main thing to do on our show is talk about our neighborhood around us and our city, Chicago,” Salgado explained.
Like me, radio has helped many other youth find a happy place. “It’s been my therapy,” Botticelli said. “No matter how much it’s changed and morphed and developed and grown, it’s always been something I’ve looked forward to and I’ve never felt stressed out about it.” Radio for Botticelli has evolved over time, but it still has that same impact and emotions it did on day one.
Radio is a beautiful art that has impacted many youth and the people who listen. It has grown into something that many young people are trying and are having amazing experiences.