By: Julia Long and Karlton Tate
Turn on the radio and you’ll find dozens of pop music and news stations, all playing or saying more or less the same thing. Fusion Youth Radio is seeking to change that.
Fusion Youth Radio is a small radio program that began in 2011 and uses UNC’s WXYC radio station to broadcast. Its concept is very simple: bring in teens from the community to discuss whatever they would like to discuss. Program topics have ranged from race and gender issues to textbook censorship, and the conversation is driven purely by the students.
The name of the station is a nod to the Fusion Movement of the 1890s, which was a biracial political movement that was very influential across North Carolina. The ECHO spoke with Brentton Harrison, one of the radio station’s adult employees, about its origins and purpose.
“[Fusion Youth Radio] is a place to speak your mind,” said Harrison. “This is that medium where you can put your voice out there.”
What sets Fusion Youth Radio apart from the rest is its commitment to community youth involvement and encouragement of meaningful conversations. Each month students produce a full radio show with music, audio journalism segments, and discussion of topical issues. The radio show partners with the Beat Making Lab, a recording studio open to the public, in downtown Chapel Hill to create the music for the show. Students run the entire production process, from recording to editing to broadcasting.
Students choose what topics to cover and control all parts of the show. Segments on the show in the past have included spotlights on local artists, collaborations with Sacrificial Poets, the prison industrial complex, and self-love. This creation and learning process is central to the goal of Fusion Youth Radio—providing a space for teens to hear and be heard.