WNYC Announces the New Class of Radio Rookies
Next class of young people to create audio documentaries through station’s youth journalism program to tell personal stories about policing in their lives
(New York, NY — July 6, 2021) — WNYC is pleased to announce the next class of Radio Rookies, the station’s Peabody Award-winning youth media program. The new class — selected through a competitive process that drew applicants, ages 15 to 24, from across New York City — will report personal stories about policing, alternatives to policing and redefining public safety.
The resulting pieces will air on WNYC in early 2022.
“Young New Yorkers have important perspectives on policing in our city,” said Jami Floyd, WNYC Senior Editor for Race and Justice. “Radio Rookies will bring their engaging and distinct perspectives to our air during a moment in which New Yorkers are intensely focused on this issue and the ways a new mayor and city council will guide the city’s post-pandemic approach to policing.”
The Radio Rookies will take part in an intensive, 30-week-long documentary workshop to learn about radio and digital journalism — from how to develop a story and conduct an interview, to how to craft a script and edit audio, to how to write for multiple platforms. Participants receive recording equipment for the duration of the program and a monthly stipend.
This workshop is led by Radio Rookies Producer Carolina Hidalgo and supported by grants from Epstein Teicher Philanthropies, the Legacy Heritage Fund Limited, the Anne Levy Charitable Trust/Jean Karotkin and the Margaret Neubart Foundation.
Here is the 2021-22 class of Radio Rookies:
Rainier Harris is a 2021 graduate of Regis High School in Manhattan and an incoming freshman at Columbia University. His love for media began in high school when he started freelance writing. Since then, he’s been published in The New York Times, Business Insider and City Limits. Last year, he completed an apprenticeship at Dustlight Productions. He likes writing about youth activism, justice and policing. Beyond writing, he enjoys watching anime (his favorite is Naruto) and listening to music (his favorite album is Frank Ocean’s Blonde) and playing video games. He lives in South Ozone Park, Queens, with his mom, dad, older brother Richard, and older sister Roxanne.
Folashade Olatunde is a rising senior at Lehman College, where she majors in journalism and minors in sociology and Africana studies. Folashade was born and raised in the Bronx, is the youngest in her family, and will be the first in her family to graduate college. She likes reading and watching documentaries that challenge her and make her want to be a better person. One day, Folashade wants to write a book about her life and to travel the world. She would also love to host her own talk show. Folashade lives in Mott Haven, in the south Bronx with her mom and a puppy named Miracle.
Kayla Ollivierre was born in Brooklyn and is a rising junior at Bryant High School in Astoria, where she has participated in student council and made the National Honor Society. She has a passion for singing and writing fictional stories. She is enthusiastic about spreading compassion and making others feel joyful, understood and not alone. Kayla lives in St. Albans, Queens, with her mother, younger sister, two cats and a puppy named Chase.
Betsy-Jane Paul-Odionhin moved to New York from Nigeria three years ago and lives in Far Rockaway, Queens. She is a rising senior at Manhattan Village Academy and a member of her school’s debate club, book club, newspaper club and creative writing club. She is also an aspiring neurosurgeon who loves reading. Stories fascinate her — even more so when they’re true. She is passionate about saving the environment and loves random things like crocheting and reading biology textbooks for fun.
Deborah Ugo-Omenukwa is a rising junior at Manhattan Village Academy. She’s a singer, songwriter, dancer, published poet, UI/UX designer, graphic designer and 10-time hackathon winner. She’s also the founder and captain of her school’s debate team and an advice columnist for her school newspaper and her own advice website, Just Ask a Teen. Deborah aspires to be a lawyer and/or judge. She lives in Eastchester in the Bronx with her parents and two older brothers.
Radio Rookies is WNYC’s Peabody Award-winning initiative that gives New York City teenagers and young adults the tools and training to create radio stories about themselves, their communities and their world. Since 1999, the Radio Rookies program has conducted workshops across New York City. Radio Rookies documentaries give our listeners and readers a glimpse into what young people are truly facing, thinking and saying. The program is part of the Race & Justice Unit in the WNYC Newsroom.
Radio Rookies stories have won the Peabody Award, Dupont Award, the RFK Award for Excellence in Journalism, the Society of Professional Journalists Award, and several Murrow Awards. Rookies go on to use their media arts skills in school, in their future careers and lives.
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