CEN8Teens Making (Sound) Waves!
by Mélys Codo
When Goldsmiths MA Radio students Nora and Kenya came to Gill to organise a summer radio workshop, little did we know that this would lead to the creation of a SoundCloud, and to the promise of the launch of CEN8Radio. Last Friday, we sat with Nora, Kenya and their tech-savvy radio trainees, Angel, Jermaine and Vincent, as they wrapped up the workshop and added the last touch to their podcasts.
Far from being Nora and Kenya’s first venture at CEN8, this summer workshop came after the two students took over the afternoon arts club for five weeks. Working in coordination with art facilitators, Nora and Kenya designed and conceptualised a radio play based on CEN8Kids’ puppetry artwork – thus, interweaving CEN8Kids’ craft to a brand-new medium. Click here for the link to our radio drama!
At the core of Nora and Kenya’s endeavour is the desire to work with children, and to “spark a bit of interest”, says Nora. Indeed, “[Radio] is such … an old time thing, people think it’s kind of outdated… Especially with kids and teens, it is so much easier to have a recorder, or have your phone, and play around with it. It is less expensive, there are fewer limitations, you can do whatever you want.” Pointing to the approachable nature of the media – and most specifically, of radio – thanks to technological advances, the podcasts which Angel, Jermaine and Vincent produced, under the guidance of Nora and Kenya, each illustrate the main aims of the media – namely to educate, and to entertain.
According to Angel herself, radio was an uncharted territory. “I haven’t really worked with media”, she says. “I mean I have done things in entertainment, like dancing and drama. But I hadn’t really touched on radio, so I thought that would be an experience.” Yet, upon listening to the material she produced in less than a week; upon discovering the subject which she decided to research and cover in her podcast, one could never suspect Angel was dabbling at a new medium. Her aim – to educate her peers. “In school, when we were learning about cultural appropriation, a lot of people didn’t know what that was, and afterwards, they still didn’t understand it that well. So, the main reason for me doing the podcast was to help people around my age understand what cultural appropriation is, and the difference between cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation.” Tackling a subject which has been a recurring theme in the media these past few years, and one which still sparks controversy and puzzlement among creative industries professionals and audiences alike, Angel showed discernment and maturity. “I was quite impressed” says Nora, because one would not expect a teenager to tackle such a topic when given the opportunity to make a podcast.
Angel & Nora working together
After choosing the topic, Angel and Nora further researched cultural appropriation, which enabled Angel to write a script. Building a narrative that relies both on words and on sounds, Angel made use of all the resources available to create content, and became aware of all the intricacies it entails. For instance, while finding a soundtrack, Angel and Nora had to take copyright issues into considerations. By providing such hands-on practical, technical learning, Nora and Kenya’s summer radio workshop enabled CEN8Teens to become more media-savvy.
To hear Angel’s podcast of Cultural Appropriation click here:
Jermaine and Vincent’s podcast takes a different approach. Smartly taking on the art of pastiche, the two teenagers offer an entertaining chatty musical podcast which parodies the best musical radio shows. The approach might differ, yet the result remains the same. The young boys’ podcast illustrates the skills they developed and the painstaking craft it took to make it happen. Like Angel, Vincent and Jermaine started the week by researching, writing and planning their podcast. Then, they went on to record it, getting used to work with microphones and to deliver and record their work.
Jermaine & Vincent putting together their podcast
During the process of editing of their podcast, which entails meticulously mixing popular songs, and tracks recorded by the two boys – namely a news segment, an interview with Kenya, and the introduction to the musical tracks – Kenya advises and explains, but she lets Jermaine and Vincent mix and use the software (Adobe Audition) on their own. Not only do they learn technical skills, the two teenagers also learn to produce material that is up to radio standards. Indeed, they must verify that all the songs they mix in their podcast are clean versions, and check them for swear or rude words. Further, they also choose and include jingles to their podcast, in order to compose a product that sounds as professional as possible. To hear Jermaine and Vincent’s Podcast, click here:
Although this summer radio workshop only lasted four days, it provided CEN8Teens with the occasion to learn something new in a fun and stimulating environment. It could pave the way for a bigger project next year, and for the involvement of more Goldsmiths students. “I have been talking to Gill about that” reveals Nora. “I think CEN8 especially is such a great opportunity for undergraduate students, because it’s a very good place to start, because you have no experience yet. And first year students don’t know that many people; they would appreciate an opportunity like this.” Nora’s proposition could be the start of a project which renews and strengthens CEN8’s ties to Goldsmiths student community. Not only would this project allow Goldsmiths’ students to get involved, it would also allow CEN8 to expand its reach by developing a new platform where CEN8Kids and CEN8Teens would communicate, and where Goldsmiths students would be at liberty to create content aimed at kids. “They should have kids and teens making radio, but they should also have students making radio for kids.”
This summer workshop brings the promise of exciting projects to come. Stay tuned for more updates in the coming months.