Youth Radio

Oct 1, 2008 12:00 PM, By Steve Shurtz

THE BAY AREA'S BROADCASTERS OF TOMORROW LEARN THE ROPES THROUGH CUTTING-EDGE AFTER-SCHOOL MEDIA EDUCATION

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Having all your faders in one basket could be cause for concern to the person tasked with keeping it all working, but McGovern says, “There are workarounds for all of this, many that I just discovered — like always having everything on a local engine so if the Logitek network fails, you can at least get at it with tie-lines and patch it around. The IT, although fully integrated as part of the system, is a separate discipline. All of our audio is very reliant on that IT system. That's where our data lives, that's how I get one machine to talk to another. Again, we're back to converged technologies.”

All students have a unique sign-on associated with their profile, the applications they are using and project data so they can work at any computer in the facility. For instance, there are 15 computers in the first-floor lab, so if the class spills over to 20 the students can usually use other machines located nearby. In total, there are more than 100 CPUs running on a daily basis.

Currently, there are three main servers, each with 2TB RAID Level-5 arrays with online spares, redundant power supplies, uninterruptible power supplies and dual 2GB fiber-network interface controllers. Incremental backups are performed daily, with a full backup every weekend to DLT3 with an auto-loader. “No failures yet,” notes IT network administrator Josh Broughton. “Everything can be restored up to two weeks prior to an incident.”

While Broughton keeps all the proper firewalls and security on the network, he and his team are also involved in the spirit and mission of Youth Radio. “The adults that work here are just setting the stage. Young people come in and hopefully make it their own and bring it to the next place. We listen to them: What's next? What do we need to plug in? What do you want to see happen?”

Broadcast connection to various outlets is mainly done via ISDN through a Telos Zephyr unit, and Webcasts are carried through a T1 line with guaranteed bandwidth. Currently, streams are served out by Net2EZ managed data centers, a very generous partner in Los Angeles.

Future Growth

This strong IT foundation is needed to allow for Youth Radio's future plans: Web 2.0, featuring more user-generated content and social networking, with in-house servers and a greatly expanded video-production capacity. To accommodate the needs of Web 2.0 and in-house serving, Youth Radio is working out a deal with AT&T for a DS3 class of service. The goal is for content management of all video and audio in one on-site repository. Youth Radio's Web traffic is currently at 600,000 unique visitors a month, and the anticipated Web 2.0 expansion will require more bandwidth.

Youth Radio is also spinning off a production company called Youth Media International (YMI), which will include Web production sponsored by ZeroDivide, a technology foundation that invests in non-profit organizations helping low-income and underserved communities, and more. Youth Media International's first pilot concept series is titled What's the New What.

Additionally, the Kellogg Foundation is developing a new long-term initiative that includes Youth Radio. “Youth Radio was selected as one of six community-based organizations across the nation to help develop a national model for getting youth who are out of school and work into jobs,” says managing director Jacinda Abcarian. “It's pretty revolutionary because it's not working with the established school systems — it's a whole new model on how to get business- and community-based organizations to work together to create jobs and hire these young people.”


Steve Shurtz is the former general manager of the Saul Zaentz Film Center (Berkeley, Calif.) and former general manager of EMI's Studios 301 in Sydney, Australia.






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