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Radio Rookies



Fresh voices tackle big questions with kid-created radio.

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids can learn about teen-relevant subjects in radio segments created and presented by other teens. Topics covered include race, education, family, and more, and each subject is filtered through the unique lens of each Radio Rookie. Kids will learn to carefully listen to each story and form their own opinions. They will hear a wide variety of voices sharing different viewpoints. Kids may learn about cultural experiences different from their own, or they may change their minds about an issue after hearing another kid's story. Radio Rookies could use a few updates, but it's clear its heart is in the right place. 

Positive messages
Not applicable

Some stories deal with violence, like school shootings or war.


There's a very straightforward Sexuality section with a few articles dealing with teen sexuality, primarily relating to LGBT issues. 

Not applicable

Ads do run on the site, though they are the kind that typically run on public radio, meaning they're largely educational and socially conscious. 

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A recent article addresses marijuana use in high school.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Radio Rookies is a website based in New York City where kids create and air their own radio programs on current issues that are relevant to their lives. Radio Rookies doesn't shy away from hard-hitting discussions. There are some articles featuring teen sexuality, like "Coming Out in the Age of Lady Gaga." Some articles focus on controversial issues related to race, like "The N-word: It Means Hatred." But all the topics are thoughtfully covered and discussed and should be appropriate for a tween audience.

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What's it about?

RADIO ROOKIES is a New York Public Radio initiative that trains and equips teenagers to create radio stories, giving them an outlet to share their perspectives on their lives, their communities, and their worlds. Kids who sign up are given the skills to create media, and the result is this archive of articles and programs focusing on teen issues. The site is divided into sections such as Arts, Civic Engagement, Immigration, Loss, and Dreams. Click on any of these links to find a list of stories. After reading a synopsis of the story, you can click on the streaming radio to listen or download the audio file for later.

Is it any good?


The site has a wide range of first-person content made by kids of all backgrounds. For example, a teen named Sonia tells a story about religious conflict in her Mexican-American family titled, "One Atheist, 14 Catholics." The site also addresses topics particularly relevant to teens, as in the story "Facebook Drama."

Although the content that's available is thought-provoking and entertaining, much of it is dated. The site has been around since 1999, meaning its archive is deep and thorough, but the last article in the Health and Mental Health section is from 2011. It's possible that the site doesn't archive all its programs, including more recent ones. But more frequent updates would make the site feel more alive and active. There are also some navigation issues; once you click on an article or a section, it can be difficult to get back to where you started.

Families can talk about...

  • Listen to a program with your teen in the car and engage him or her in a discussion about the topics being discussed.

  • If your computer or phone has the technology, help your kid create a mini-segment on a topic of his or her choice.

Website details

Subjects:Language & Reading: discussion, forming arguments
Social Studies: citizenship, cultural understanding, events, global awareness, government, power structures, the economy
Skills:Thinking & Reasoning: analyzing evidence, asking questions, investigation
Communication: asking questions, listening
Genre:Civic Engagement
Pricing structure:Free

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