â€œI think being a mentor and a role model for kids actually saved Kenny.â€
-WSHU reporter Craig LeMoult
Thanks for checking out the NPR Station Showcase with PRX. Iâ€™m Aaron Henkin, and each week on this podcast we drop in at one of the more than three hundred NPR stations across the country to hear some of the best and brightest work thatâ€™s being produced locally from Maine,Hawaii, Florida, Alaska and everywhere in between. This week our travels take us to WSHU in Connecticut, where reporter Craig LeMoult has been working for the past year, putting together stories on politics, poverty, and the environment. Craig recently profiled a youth mentor in Bridgeport, Connecticut, a man named Kenny Jackson. Mr. Jackson has been helping kids in Bridgeport deal with some of the same issues he faced growing up there, issues that landed him in prison during his own younger years. As youâ€™ll hear in Craigâ€™s story, Mr. Jacksonâ€™s guidance has made all the difference for one young manâ€¦
How did you come across Kenny Jackson and his mentoring program?
I was researching programs that help ex-convicts re-enter society after prison, and the director of one program mentioned Kenny Jackson to me as an example of a great success story. I went to visit Kenny at his office in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and quickly realized that his personal story was too good for him to be just a sound bite in a broader feature. So I decided to profile him and Garmar Ryan, the high school student who Kenny has been mentoring for years.
How did Mr. Jackson strike you when you first met him… what were your first impressions?
Being a mentor is what Kenny is all about. He’s been through some hard times, and somehow managed to come through it with an incredibly positive attitude and a mission to help kids avoid making the same mistakes he made. And he’s a radio reporter’s dream â€“ a great talker.
Kids like Garmar Ryan obviously benefit greatly from the mentorship program… what do you think Kenny Jackson gets out of the experience and the relationships he forges with the kids?
I think being a mentor and a role model for kids actually saved Kenny. It gave him a purpose, and motivated him to stay on the right track, and help kids do the same.
Tell us a bit about your radio background and the sort of work you do for WSHU…
I’m a longtime public radio junkie and have been a reporter here since last August, shortly after I finished journalism school. My feature stories for WSHU range in topic from the health of lobsters in the Long Island Sound to health insurance for people in Connecticut. I cover issues of poverty, environmental stories, politics, and anything else we think is interesting and newsworthy. A feature I did on “vintage baseball” teams ran on the national Morning Edition broadcast in April.
Any other interesting stories you’re working on at the moment? What’s next for you?
I’m working on a series right now about kids in Connecticut’s foster care system.
You can hear more from WSHU online at The Public Radio Exchange. Thatâ€™s where producers from around the world share their work. Log on, write your own reviews, and have a say in what ends up on the radio at: www.prx.org.