It’s so elegant. Genius really. Hand a mic to someone and let them record. In general, the tape they collect will be intimate, honest, and revealing. They will take you places few journalists can go. And, its an opportunity for people to speak directly for themselves — that’s empowering. And that, in short, is the idea behind Radio Rookies.
Radio Rookies is a project of WNYC in New York City. In short, they put mics in the hands and headphones on the ears of young people to document their lives. Obesity, immigration, violence, autism, racism… the Rookies tackle tough topics. In fact, the Rookies have produced some of the best radio documentaries in the last ten years.
On this Saltcast, we listen to “Heroin,” produced in 2001 by Janesse Nieves. This piece won the “Best New Producer” award at the Third Coast International Audio Festival.
While we’re at it, we should mention some of the other excellent radio documentaries where reporters handover the the mic. Ghetto Life 101 by Dave Isay. The Life Stories series by Jay Allison. And much of the work of Joe Richman and Radio Diaries.