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Radio rookies

Young DJs step up behind the mic to host their own on-air shows.

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ON-AIR: Ayanna Perez, Brittany Goodman, Tami Holley and Shytasia Williams (left to right) sing on a radio show at WESU.

BARBARA J. Sloan

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Every Friday night, two 10- to 12-year-old DJs put on their headsets in the WESU radio studios at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., and host their own half-hour radio show.

Kid DJs Clayton Smith and Ayanna Perez, both seventh-graders, write stories, poems, and songs for their weekly show. The program, "The Middletown Youth Radio Project" (MYRP), partners 12 elementary and middle-school students with eight Wesleyan University (WU) student mentors.

Every week, mentors help the young DJs edit their songs and stories at DJ workshops. Mu Abeledo, a WESU DJ and a senior at WU, and Jessica Jones, a former WU student, started the program in 2007.

Before the young DJs host their shows, each makes up an on-air name. For example, Clayton is DJ C-Dog and Ayanna is DJ Strawberry Shortcake.

These youthful DJs also have a chance to conduct interviews with people in the community. Recently, fifth-grader Chris Madera and his mentor, senior Eli Scherer, visited Marco's Italian Deli to interview its owner. This was the first time Chris had interviewed someone. He used a handheld recorder to record the interview. Afterward, Chris edited the interview and played it on the air.

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