|Ayanna Perez, 11, is DJ Ferrell for the Middletown Youth Radio Project.|
| The Middletown Youth Radio Project (MYRP), Central Connecticut’s premier youth radio training program, aired its 25th live broadcast April 18 on Wesleyans WESU 88.1 FM.
From 6:30 to 7 p.m., two young DJs hit the airwaves and play their newest original songs, stories, poems, and commentaries, interspersed with anecdotes and their favorite tunes of the week.
MYRP is a weekly radio program written, produced, and hosted by kids ages 10-17. The first live broadcast aired on Sept. 10, 2007. The youth, many of whom live in the Traverse Square Housing Community that is located across the street from WESU, began training in April 2007 and participated in a free three-week radio camp in August. Since then, they have met every week to learn audio recording and production, on-air DJ skills, and the ins-and-outs of running a weekly radio show.
“All members involved in MYRP — youth DJs, college student staff, the WESU community, and the listeners — are drawn to it because the project genuinely excites them,” says Muriel Mu Abeledo ’09, founder and co-program director of MYRP. MYRP is a space for local youth to get their voices out there, without having to be filtered by other means. Behind-the-scenes it is a community building project that brings many types of people together.
In the past, the young DJs have written commentaries about global warming, produced original hip-hop rhymes and beats, written poems about their best friends, penned songs about love and religion, and produced a radio play. MYRP has produced over 40 original radio pieces and many more are in the works.
Ayanna Perez, 11, who goes by DJ Ferrell on the air, looks forward to hosting her program.
“I always wanted this opportunity that I could record something and be on the radio, she says. It makes me really happy.”
John Duke, 9, who goes by DJ MK Pokemon Dude says he feels like dancing when he hears his own music on the radio.
Now in their second season, the young DJs field calls from listeners throughout the state of Connecticut.
“There are unlimited directions this project can go in to bring more people together, and that use radio itself as a tool for community development, Abeledo says. With a volunteer staff of 10 and a youth DJ staff of 12, strong connections with parents and the Traverse Square community, funding by the Wesleyan Student Budgetary Committee, and the support and airtime from WESU, MYRP is going steady and gearing up for the final shows of its second season.