There are some sweet sounds coming from dynamic DJs on Detroit radio these days, and they all have something in common – they are all Cornerstone students!

An Innovative Program Combines Literacy & Radio

Under the guidance of Crystal Mayo, an on-air radio personality at WMZK 680/690 AM and WPON 1460 AM, more than 20 Cornerstone students are discovering what it takes to produce their own radio show, through her Our Time Youth Radio program.  They’re learning everything from writing scripts and researching content to serving as hosts for a series of one-hour live broadcasts, which air on WPON 1460 am.

What began as a pilot program with Jefferson-Douglass Academy last year, has expanded this year to include students from Adams-Young Elementary, Washington-Parks Academy, and Lincoln-King High School and allows the returning students to mentor new participants.

It’s more than the thrill of being heard on a live broadcast. According to Mayo, there are a multitude of lessons and benefits to being part of this opportunity. “There’s a huge literacy component,” she explained. As students consider content for their shows, she ensures they also understand the definition of words. She exposes them to research tools, how to properly check sources, and to be sure that they are presenting professionally. “I’m a stickler for proper grammar, pronunciation and enunciation,” she added.

Collaboration, Negotiation, and Teamwork

It also provides an opportunity for collaboration, negotiation and teamwork. Just like professionals do for a radio show, students of Our Time Youth Radio choose their topics, often using a round-table discussion, allowing them to brainstorm and present their views and perspectives about what should be included. They also agree upon the music they select to play – last year JDA students highlighted a Motown artist each week.

Students like LKHS senior DeAja are enthusiastic about Our Time Youth Radio because of skills she’s developing for the future. “I know that in my professional life, I will have to do public speaking and let people hear my voice,” she says. “This opportunity helps me face the challenges that may come with that and also practice for that future occupation.”

Program Receiving Media Attention

The program is getting some much-deserved attention from other media outlets. Fox2 Detroit anchor and reporter Josh Landon recently visited the studio and sat down with some of the students to spotlight the program. Click below to see Landon’s segment with Cornerstone students in action at the WPON studio.

The ultimate measure of success is the impact this program is having on students’ lives. “The excitement – yet fear – of venturing into an area they never thought they would travel was EVERYTHING,” an excited Mayo exclaimed after a recent show. “They left the station giving high-fives, smiling and surely feeling a sense of accomplishment. Some lives have been impacted.”

Lincoln- King High School teacher and Radio Club leader, Crystal Jackson, agrees. “The program has helped to build literacy, confidence, and oratory skills,” she said. “At first, a few were afraid, but after some coaching, they completed their interviews with Fox 2 News and their first radio broadcast, and now they can’t wait to do more!”

Cornerstone students can be heard weekly live on WPON AM 1460.