Special to the Post
Students don’t often get asked their opinion about school or life, but Oakland educator Felicia Bridges is giving all students with something to say an opportunity to share their experiences.
Youth voices now have a new outlet on KPFB radio in Berkeley on a show called “Talk 2 Teacher.”
The radio program offers unfiltered honest voices, mixed with contemporary urban music to convey student’s stories that appeal to multiple audiences.
“When I conceived of this program, I wanted students to share their stories, but I also wanted parents, teachers and administrators to listen in as well – for everyone to get an understanding of what is actually happening with kids,” said Bridges.
Students are invited to share a piece of their world, while Bridges’ voice takes the back seat. She recounts how she was sitting in an editorial meeting at the station when a comment was made about how low her voice was during her interviews.
She explained that it is her style of radio interviewing, to make sure that the students’ voices are the focus and most prominent.
“To a certain extent, the show is not about me,” she said. “It is every inch about the student. Just look at it from the perspective of a Charlie Brown cartoon, all adult voices are inaudible – wa wa wa.”
Bridges found her way to the KPFA radio station two years after working as the youth education manager at Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), in charge of the Youth Media Program. Prior to that, she co-created the Safe ‘n Sound youth risk management media program, with the education and prevention coordinator at Alameda County Health Department’s Office of AIDS Administration.
It was in these programming experiences that she learned that she had an excellent rapport with youth. For most of her career, she was either in journalism or marketing. She had very little interaction with young people.
The discovery that she had a connection with youth steered her to her life’s mission – youth themed radio. Her affinity for youth also led her to pursue her doctorate in education, which she is currently completing at Mills College in Oakland.
Bridges’ focus at Mills is student voice in education.
“Talk 2 Teacher” is aired on KPFB, KPFA’s small frequency station.
KPFA’s new general manager Quincy McCoy uses the smaller frequency channel to give new programming the opportunity to pickup traction. It is also a way to give new programmers the space to develop their shows and build an audience.
“It’s a laboratory,” says McCoy. “In order for radio to mature talent, they need a place to build their listeners. If folks don’t have an opportunity to create radio, how can they learn to succeed? That’s what is at the heart of this programming–offering opportunities to learn and grow.”
The urban-themed KPFB is where Bridges is finding her niche in illuminating student life. Since her show has aired, she has uncovered stories about unfair discipline of Black male students, homelessness, what it’s like to be HIV positive and the resilience of students.
“I am amazed at what I have discovered about the students I interview,” said Bridges. “I have found them to be remarkably positive in the most trying circumstances. There were times when my radio guests were laughing, and I was crying about what they were sharing. Students are so hopeful.”
“Talk 2 Teacher” airs every Saturday at noon on KPFB 89.3 FM Berkeley. The show can be live streamed at www.KPFA.org. Students, between 13 to 18 years old, interested in being on the show can contact Felicia Bridges at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (510) 761-6403.