Despite Distance, Youth Takeover 2021 Brought Bay Area Teens Together

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Student in recording booth

For most Bay Area teens, it’s been a whirlwind year as COVID-19 took their learning online. Some students lost major senior milestones they waited years for, and others tried to get used to their first year of high school without ever having stepped foot on campus. Despite the challenges, KQED’s young storytellers persevered and were able to tell their stories, creating rich narratives touching on the issues most important to them. 

Now in its fourth year, KQED Youth Takeover is a year-long program that connects high school classrooms with KQED producers who lead students through the process of creating stories for broadcast on our most popular programs like Forum, The Bay and more. Through hands-on training that’s aligned with content standards, students are guided from pitch to publication as they create radio features that reflect the voices of today’s youth. This year’s Youth Takeover Week was broadcast from April 26-30, and selected submissions will be broadcast throughout the year. You can read about some highlights below and check out all of this year’s student-produced content, as well as our archive of past years here!

What Learning With Autism Is Like for One SF Teen

For The California Report Magazine, 16-year-old Zachary Yieh, a sophomore at Washington High School in San Francisco, tells us about his experiences growing up with autism and the challenges he and many other disabled students face when it comes to finding support at school. With COVID-19, getting students the help they need has been harder than ever. He speaks with his mother and his case manager on their work in the fight for disability rights.

Becoming a Teen YouTuber in the Times of COVID

Many Americans have spent the past year glued to their screens, whether it be for work, school, or entertainment. Jimmy Luong, a 17-year-old junior at Lincoln High School in San Francisco, decided to use this extra time to his advantage. The result -- running a thriving YouTube channel where thousands of subscribers tuned in for video game content, a dream career for millions of teens. Hear Jimmy’s story on KQED News’ B Segment.

Ethics of Thrifting + Period Poverty

This year’s Youth Takeover pieces for KQED’s round table discussion program, Forum, were produced by KQED’s Youth Advisory Board (YAB), comprised of high school students from around the Bay Area who serve for a full year as representatives of Gen Z and ensure their voices and views are heard. YAB members worked alongside radio producers to put together these discussions from their own original ideas, learning the editorial process firsthand. Hear from experts and teens alike on the recent rise in thrift shopping as a way to combat fast-fashion and its harmful environmental effects. Another group tackled period poverty, the lack of access to hygenic menstrual products, which disproportionately affects millions of people in America. Students spoke with key leaders in the ongoing fight to end period poverty and the stigma against menstruation. 

You Only Live Once

The year of online school has led many teens to feel like they’ve lost a huge chunk of their high school experience. When life paused for Karen Chau, she found herself filled with regret for what she’s missed out on. For the listener-generated daily commentary show Perspectives, she tells of how the pandemic interrupted her junior year at Washington High School in San Francisco and changed her perceptions as she enters her senior year. 


"I loved these projects and I'm so proud of the work my students produced,” says Greg West, a media arts teacher at Washington High School in San Francisco, whose students produced work for Perspectives and The California Report Magazine. “I look forward to participating in this project again next school year. Working on these pieces in person will be great and they are wonderful additions to my curriculum.” 

Get involved!

Join KQED in this unique opportunity for Bay Area middle and high school students to dive into the world of radio. Applications for our 2021-22 Youth Takeover cohort are open now until September 1st, 2021. 

Not ready to join a cohort? Or, do you teach outside of the Bay Area? Choose from one of our five KQED Youth Media Challenges! In addition to audio journalism, you can engage your students in creative media-making projects that range in topics from dance to engineering to political cartooning and more!  Each student-created media piece is published on the online showcase to a nation-wide audience. Selections from the media showcase will be featured on KQED and partner station broadcast and digital channels.