Getting your students to hear how podcasts are built…and giving them a place to start their own

Credit: Jennifer Guerra (Michigan Radio)

It’s hard to start a student podcast. We are hoping this makes it a little easier.  

Our hope is that student publications across the country will take on issues like race, fear, phones, identity, etc., in their own communities. Maybe these topics can be starting places for your students.  Or, maybe these lead your kids in some new directions that are most relevant in their communities. Or, maybe your kids want to do something totally different. All of it is good. It’s about the voices, the stories and the connections.  

The questions below are content related and they are focused on opening up conversations.  But, if your goal is to have your students create podcasts, we’d also recommend having them listen to the podcast and take it apart so they can see how it was built. Have students make observations about the writing and articulate how it is different than print writing; identify the ‘value proposition’ for each episode, which lets listeners know what the episode is about; identify the focus of each story, and talk about why it’s important; talk about the background sounds (ambi) you hear; discuss how music is used throughout the episode, and/or what role does music play in the episode; talk about how quotes (tape) are used in the podcast.

KTD Episode 1: Race

Release date: 06/17/2020 

This Week’s Show: Race

In this episode (summary): Three weeks after police killed George Floyd, teens have been out on the streets to protest police brutality and systemic racism. And for a lot of us, especially for Black teens, this is a resounding cry fighting for our right to live and to live in peace. Some people may wonder: why? What is motivating teens to step out, to speak up, and to demand change? To try and answer that, we move out of the streets and into the home for a moment and ask:  What kinds of conversations are teens having with their families about race right now? 

Suggested discussion prompts: 

-What conversations are you having with your family about race?

-What differences do you notice among the conversations? What similarities? 

-What do you think about the narrator putting herself in the story? 

-There’s a lot of debate over “objectivity” in journalism. What role do you think journalists should play, particularly when it comes to issues of race in America? 


Apple Podcasts link:

Michigan Radio buildout:

KTD Episode 2: Fear

Release date: 06/24/2020 

This Week’s Show: Fear

In this episode (summary): We’ve grown up in an age of fear — from school shooters, to the climate crisis, to COVID-19. In this episode, we look at how that has shaped our lives.

Suggested discussion prompts: 

-Do you agree with the premise that Generation Z has grown in an “age of fear”? Explain.

-What are the lockdown drills like at your school, and how do you feel about them? 

-Climate change and COVID-19 share a push-and-pull between individual freedoms (to wear or not wear a mask; to drive or not drive a Hummer) and shared responsibility (flatten the curve; stop global warming). What are some other examples of individualism vs collectivism? 


Apple Podcasts link:

Michigan Radio buildout:

KTD Episode 6: Phones

Release date: 07/22/2020 

This Week’s Show: Phones

In this episode (summary): We use our phones all the time, but we never talk about how we use them. This episode, we look at the unspoken rules and expectations of social media, and how they can impact our relationships. 

Suggested discussion prompts: 

-How does location tracking, and other types of surveillance affect your behavior?

-Several people wouldn’t agree to tape an interview for this episode (Lana’s boyfriend; parents). As a journalist, you’ll come across people who do not want to talk to you. How do you deal with that, and what kinds of workarounds might you use? 

-What is the difference between “off the record” and “on background”? 

– When is it ethically ok to grant anonymity to a source? 


Apple Podcasts link:

Michigan Radio buildout:

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