Even during a global pandemic, young voices cannot and should not be silenced.
Cincinnati Public Radio’s Democracy & Me program recently launched a new podcast named Democracy & Z to provide an outlet for students to talk about the issues that impact their lives, now and in the future.
Under the leadership of Julie York Coppens, CPR’s educational outreach coordinator, Democracy & Z has released five episodes so far, covering topics such as racism, immigration, voting rights, educational equity, climate change, and – in the most recent episode – life in quarantine.
Youth artists and staff from Elementz, Cincinnati’s hip-hop cultural center, have been key collaborators, providing the podcast’s theme music (Noah Hawes), logo (Yoni Lee), and more.
“We dropped our first episode just as the country was shutting down, which was great and terrible timing,” Coppens said. “Great because teenagers are hungry to connect with each other, in a deep and authentic way, and they have more time now to listen; terrible because, obviously, we can’t just bring kids into our studio for after-school recordings anymore. So to keep the podcast going, we’ve had to get creative. We’re relying on students more, technically, and that’s good.”
Democracy & Me – an initiative supported by the Charles H. Dater Foundation – promotes media literacy, student journalism, civic responsibility, voter education, and youth activism. In addition to the Democracy & Z podcast, it features an annual writing contest, online curriculum resources curated by Dr. David Childs of Northern Kentucky University, plus classroom visits by public radio’s Ken Rudin (The Political Junkie) and WVXU senior political analyst Howard Wilkinson.