“Hire people with the right mindset. I can’t teach empathy or the intuitive understanding of how to work with different kinds of people and give everyone the respect and dignity they deserve.”
I created “The Saturday Light Brigade” radio program in 1978 at the age of 17 with the goal of delivering music, puzzles and interviews to a multigenerational audience. More than 40 years later, our programming is on six radio stations and five streaming platforms. We also work with about 4,000 middle and high school students each year in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania, most of whom are from under-resourced, marginalized communities. Through our Youth Express program, youth perform on the radio, host podcasts and talk shows and create commentaries and documentaries, while our oral history programs provide a forum for youth to interview adults about their lives.
The problem I’m trying to solve
Youth are talked about, studied, marketed to and blamed for almost everything. They also have a lot to say and deserve to be heard. SLB uses radio to amply these voices. Our goal is to create an environment in which people who are very different from one another can talk and listen to each other. The tools of radio and audio production and podcasting allow that to happen.
If I want to get a privileged, upper-middle-class teen to understand what it’s like to be from a less fortunate family, I have them work with another, more disadvantaged student to create a documentary. When you have two very different people interview one another, it is a remarkable way to build a connection so that they understand each other better.