All Classical Portland wants to engage and train its next generation of listeners, radio broadcasters, art leaders and communicators. With that goal in mind, the Portland-based classical radio station established the Joyous Outreach to Youth program that seeks out local youth who are active in their community's art and music scenes. These young artists, musicians and intellectuals will be part of All Classical Portland's inaugural Youth Roving Reporters initiative to inspire teens to get outside their comfort zone, report on local arts events and put their journalistic skills to the test by producing content that will run on-air and online through All Classical Portland.
Out of 24 applicants, six were chosen and two of them are Sophia Suhler, of Lake Oswego, and Emma Clark of West Linn.
"Our strength is radio, so we decided that we could teach young people how to think about arts journalism, and how to think about sharing the arts with their community, as well as, how to talk about how the arts affect their community," said Suzanne Nance, All Classical Portland's chief executive and on-air host.
The Youth Roving Reporters program began Nov. 1 with the selection of the six teens who will be tasked with choosing two local arts, music or theatrical events to report on. They will attend the events, interview the artists, compile their reporting and create written and radio segments that will air on All Classical Portland throughout the the next several months.
"We still serve a large radio audience, and if we're going to really commit to these young people and teach them radio, we're going to help them through the entire process of choosing an event to cover, interviewing the artists, listening to the content, editing the content and creating radio segments that will air as part of our Northwest Previews arts magazine," Nance says.
Both Clark and Suhler are heavily involved in the arts in school and privately. The two have impressive resumes of classical music training and are fabulously intelligent young ladies. Although neither have had enough time to do enough research and find what two events they're interested in reporting on, they both have talents and interests that range across several artistic mediums of which they would love to be able to report on over the next several months.
Suhler, a sophomore at Lake Oswego High School, plays both upright and electric bass. She's involved with her school's jazz band as well as both the Portland Youth Jazz Orchestra and Metropolitan Youth Symphony.
"This is completely new to me, I've never done anything like this before. I've always loved writing, but I've never done journalism. I felt like it would be something fun to try, work on my writing and expand my voice," Suhler said.
Suhler is hoping to use her musical experience to inform and drive her reporting. While she enjoys all different types of music, jazz is her true passion.
She said one of her idols is famed jazz bassist Charles Mingus. She believes he was one of the first bass players to really make the instrument more than just a backing piece, and one of her first solos was an arrangement by Mingus himself. Another musician Suhler finds inspiring is Portland native and grammy award winning bassist Esperanza Spalding.
"When I listen to music, a lot of musicians intend on telling a story, and as you grow, develop and start listening to more music you start to figure out what they're trying to say and you feel their emotions," Suhler said.
For Emma Clark, a freshman at Catlin Gabel School, the arts have always been a huge part of her life.
"I've been playing classical piano for about nine years, and I've been in some plays when I was younger," she said. "In middle school I was part of this play called 'The Dream of Three Oranges,' and it was great because I got to interact with a lot of kids older than me and learn from them."
When Clark found out she was chosen as one of the six Youth Roving Reporters, she was filled with excitement, having not believed she was going to be selected.
Along with classical training on the piano, Clark sings in her school choir. She enjoys a wide range of music from classical to modern pop and even hip hop. She's excited to get out into the field and explore as many different genres as she can.
"I was also thinking about covering a play, maybe a musical," Clark said. "I'm kind of scared of the on-air sort of thing, if I make a mistake or say something wrong."
Despite their fears, Clark and Suhler are ready to get to work reporting and creating content for All Classical Portland. The experience will be beneficial not only to their artistic pursuits, but also as a foray into the world of journalism.
With a variety of concerts, plays, exhibits and shows taking place throughout the next several months, the two young ladies will have a huge swath of art experiences to choose from when making their selections.
"We want them to look at what's happening in their neighborhoods, art exhibits, pop shows, classical shows, and of course we're encouraging classical events, but want them to be finding something that resonates with them and covering it from a journalistic perspective," Nance said.