May 16, 2024

Youth on Record Podcasts Make Waves: Youth Win Two Journalism and Media Awards, Interview the Colorado Attorney General

Youth on Record (YOR) is celebrating a powerful season of accomplishments for its catalog of youth-produced podcasts. Dedicated to empowering youth through creative education, the Denver non-profit first launched its podcasting internship program in 2022. In recent months, the department has flourished–receiving two awards for its youth journalism and welcoming Colorado Attorney General Phil Weiser onto its podcast, “Generation Collaboration.”


“This interview sounds markedly different from other interviews with the Attorney General because our hosts are asking questions from their lived experiences as young people in America,” Podcasting Program Manager and Youth Success Manager David Ladon said. “Like Phil Weiser, our youth hosts, Litzy and Emanuel, are children of immigrants, so they discussed their shared experience and the topic of immigration. The episode also covers topics like youth mental health, technology, and social media.” 


“Generation Collaboration” is one of YOR’s three youth-driven podcasts. Produced in partnership with Colorado Young Leaders with support from CiviCO, the podcast focuses on stories of leadership and change throughout Colorado. Hosts and local high school students Litzy Vasquez and Emanuel Morales guide listeners through conversations with community leaders in Denver. 


Litzy and Emanuel asked Weiser stimulating questions about topics like data privacy, deep fakes, and artificial intelligence. 


“We need to recognize, like so many technologies–the internet itself, the car, trains, the telephone–there’s great potential, and there are great improvements,” Weiser said. “But there are also threats that are going to come from it. By being mindful about the threats, by educating people, by holding accountable wrongdoers, we are going to be able to, ideally, get the benefits of the upside, while minimizing the downside…There will be real harm from AI, but we can minimize it, and we can protect people.”



In addition to its talented young hosts, “Generation Collaboration” also features the work of a young creative behind the scenes. The show is engineered and mixed by Associate Producer Xavier Gauthier, a former podcasting intern and current YOR Fellow. These robust media arts and youth leadership skills are nurtured and cultivated by YOR’s David Ladon and Ryan Conarro and Colorado Young Leaders’ Lauren Steavpack.  


Colorado Young Leaders is a powerful producing partner for “Generation Collaboration.” They offer the youth hosts important training and skill development and make this a powerful paid opportunity that showcases a vast depth of learning. 


“Our organizational mission is dedicated to giving high school students platforms to hone their leadership skills and to engage in conversations they’re not having elsewhere,” Steavpack said. “This episode with the Attorney General is a great example.”


On a recent episode of “Generation Collaboration,” Litzy described the significance of her experience as a podcast host. 


"I love being able to go home and telling my mom, ‘Mom, I just finished another episode and it’s going to be on the radio,’” she said. “I have family members in Mexico who hear it and it’s inspiring to know that I’m doing something different and coming out of my comfort zone. If you told me I’d be doing this in middle school, I’d be like, ‘No way,’ because I have social anxiety." 


YOR's podcast programs prepare young creatives for work in the growing media arts industry. In addition to cultivating these powerful skills with high school students Litzy and Emanuel, YOR offers a seasonal paid internship for creatives ages 18-24 to learn the professional skills required to thrive in the audio arts and entertainment industry. 


The internship has generated two powerful shows: “Youth on Rewind,” a narrative and art-based show that follows the interests of the youth producers; and “Underground at the Showcase,” the official podcast of the Underground Music Showcase. 


Recently, two of YOR’s podcasting internship graduates were recognized for their compelling mental health storytelling on “Youth on Rewind” Episode 1. Genevieve Glimp and Sydney Yllanes received two awards this year: a Gracie Award (Digital Media Student Winner, awarded by the Alliance for Women in Media) and a Second Place Top of the Rockies Award (Small Newsroom Mental Health Feature Winner, awarded by the Colorado Pro Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists). 


The significance of recent achievements speaks more broadly to Youth on Record’s commitment to elevating youth voices in the larger media landscape.


"When we talk about centering youth voices in our shows, it is not only in service of the professional, academic, and social-emotional development of the young people we work with. We are also pushing to expand the types of conversations that we hear on podcasts and on radio,” Ladon said. “In general, youth voices are not prominent across media formats, especially in the role of host or producer. Youth on Record is changing that.”