Millennials are making their voices heard in every aspect of society. Society has now shifted the way it operates to suit the demographic and their way of doing things. The advent of internet radio, social media, just to name a few have led to a new age of communication and expression. The four hosts who make up a majority of Let Your Voice Be Heard Radio are among the many at the forefront catering to millennials through the media discussing issues important to them in a way and language they understand.
Stanley Fritz, a community organizer and co-host of the radio show Let Your Voice Be Heard asks the first question to a guest who is scheduled to speak on standardized tests, What’s Your Favorite Drink? An interesting way to start a very sensitive and substantive topic for a radio show dedicated to discussing and informing their audience on the issues of the day. Since June 2012, LYVBH has been broadcasting on WHCR, a radio station based at The City College of New York in Harlem.
Sunday mornings is an easy time for most people. It is a time when people sleep in, go to church; recover from partying Saturday night, and/or catchup on news. At WHCR, Sunday mornings are different. The hosts of LYVBH tackle some of the heavy topics of the day and while most are taking it easy, they are knee deep in conversation about a substantive topic. It should be noted that Sundays on the radio are usually the day when social topics are discussed, for example Hot 97’s Street Soldiers hosted by Lisa Evers, WBLS’s Gary Byrd. What sets LYVBH from the others is the hosts are all under 35 years old, a rarity in the radio business. The hosts: Selena Hill, Stanley Fritz, Ilyssa Fuchs Esq., and Jason Elijio come together to make LYVBH a show mixed with humor while discussing substantive issues from a millennial point of view. Elijio pulls double duty as host/correspondent for the show along with Jaqi Cohen, who is also a correspondent for the show.
“I’m proud of the show, I used to watch CNN and people who don’t look like us are talking about issues that affect us” says Fritz.
“I think there is a lot of apathy among the youth on social issues. We discuss the issues of the day and keep them informed” says Fuchs.
“I like the idea of young people of color talking about issues of substance, I like to share common forum and thought with people in my age group” says Elijio.
“I feel like what we do is important, it’s not every day you see a collective like this engaging in real talk” says Fuchs.
“I would describe the show as Meet The Press meets The Breakfast Club” says Hill.
LYVBH was originally started in 2006 by Hill during her time in college and was re-launched in 2011 in its current format. Listeners are able to call in during the radio show where they can give their opinions live over the airwaves. Some of the topics that have been discussed on the show are standardized tests, the minimum wage, riots in Baltimore, racial profiling, vaccination, just to name a few. Throughout the show, the hosts use statistics from a variety of organizations like the Economic Policy Institute to inform the debate so it isn’t all opinion. According to Hill, the topics are so varied that they have been able to book guests from as far as Jordan and China to speak on the issues. According to the hosts, the goal in obtaining guests for the show is to go directly to the source, sometimes the foundation of the story. Guests who have been on the show include current New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio and current New Jersey Senator Cory Booker.
“We scout our guests, getting people De Blasio and Cory Booker help us stand out” says Hill. “We seek people who are experts and scholars knowledgeable on our topics of discussion”.
While many of the guests on LVYBH tended to be from underrepresented groups in the media, the main criterion is that they are informative on the issues. The underrepresentation of certain groups in the media has been well-documented in the past. Organizations like FAIR, Media Matters for America, and Women’s Media Center have all released reports documenting the issue. The varied professional backgrounds of the hosts’ play a part in how they each view the issues. Hill is a journalist, Fuchs is an attorney, Elijio is an engineer, and Fritz is a community organizer. According to the hosts, their backgrounds and their strong interest in the issues of the day make the show work well.
“I look at the issues from a legal aspect, Jason looks at it from an economic aspect, Stanley looks at it from a grassroots community organizing aspect, and Selena ties it all together” says Fuchs.
“I look at everything from an engineering qualitative aspect, like numbers” says Elijio.
The hosts say the show helps them see the issues from another point of view and while it may not be politically correct, it is genuine.
“I hate shows where it’s a circle jerk” says Fuchs.
“I like to make it sound like Jason is the adult in the room” says Fritz.
The millennial generation has garnered huge attention from media outlets and as a result, they are being catered to with networks like Fusion, an ABC/Univision collaboration, and the Pivot network. In addition, the advent of online radio and podcasts has brought increased competition to LYVBH. Podcasts like This Week In Blackness, Political GabFest were mentioned as shows that are similar in tone. According to Fritz, the millennial targeting strategy some major media outlets are taking doesn’t affect LYVBH. He thinks mainstream hasn’t changed their model at all. On the issue of competition, Fritz says “our show is a bit livelier, there is no real competition”.
“On radio, we do not have competition. We cover two major topics, do a news roundup and talk about an informing issue people should know about” says Fritz.
“The news roundup could be a show within itself” says Fuchs.
The hosts incorporate a variety of social media outlets before and during the show. They promote the show on their individual social media accounts three days prior to broadcasting. In addition, they take comments from social media during the show. They also record the shows for appointment viewers or listeners via UStream and ITunes.
“We are able to incorporate social media better than the mainstream guys” says Fuchs.
These days, issues pertaining to social justice, politics, law and order are top of mind for a lot of people. Demonstrations on various issues are happening every day and the media landscape has rushed to cover all of it. As the issues continue to be highlighted, debated, and discussed, LYVBH is helping to push the conversation forward among the millennial generation.
“Right now, it is a really important time for social justice, it is really important to be on the radio and have a forum to get my opinions out there about certain issues and inform people about these important issues” says Fuchs.
To listen to the Let Your Voice Be Heard Radio Show, check out their website.