Youth Take Over KQED Airwaves to Talk About Everything From Mental Health to Teen Pregnancy

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Sasha Khokha and producers record with a student on an episode of The California Report.

Millions of listeners from around the Bay Area and online tuned in to hear youth voices during this year’s KQED Youth Takeover. From April 29 through May 3, 2019, teens from ten high schools told their stories on issues impacting them. They spoke with honesty, vulnerability and intelligence on topics such as body image, period poverty and cell phone bans. You can explore all of their stories online now.

"This is young people bringing the stories to our newsroom, setting the agenda, telling us what's important in their lives." - Sasha Khokha, The California Report

Sasha Khokha, host of The California Report weekly magazine program, co-hosted an episode with student Autumn Sivaad from El Cerrito High School. "There's a lot of talk in newsrooms these days about bringing in youth voice and including the perspectives of young people,” Khokha said. “But this is different than adult reporters going out and asking young people what they think about issues. This is young people bringing the stories to our newsroom, setting the agenda, telling us what's important in their lives.”

To get ready for the Youth Takeover, students work hard over a four-month period with KQED journalists and staff to pitch, write and produce audio feature stories destined for KQED’s broadcast, podcast and online programming. Over 100 students from ten high schools submitted stories for the Youth Takeover this year, creating a rich and unique set of voices and stories that usually don’t make it to the airwaves.

It can be a transformative experience for students said Teresa Wierzbianska, Youth Media program manager at KQED. “The Youth Takeover helps amplify the voices of the wide range of students and young people who make up the Bay Area. We work with whole classrooms--instead of just those students who self-select--because we're looking for that kid at the back of the class, that student who's the least likely to volunteer but who has a powerful story to tell.”

Hannah Shin was a junior at Santa Clara High School when she participated in the Youth Takeover last year. She reflected on her experience writing for the general KQED audience, “Much of my waking moments are centered on academics. But writing my very own Perspective for the radio? And having it featured on a platform that everyone in the Bay Area listens to? It was exciting and thrilling and nerve-wracking all at once.”


Listen to all the youth stories that were broadcast, as well as additional bonus stories from students, on our Youth Takeover page.