SLB Radio Productions, Inc. (SLB) uses radio and audio to encourage, amplify, share and archive the ideas, stories, and feelings of children, youth and families. We believe in radio and audio because these technologies enable a sense of intimacy, engagement and self-directed imagination that is often lacking in other media, while also promoting opportunities for privacy (given that children need not be photographed), equal access (audio has fewer barriers for participation than other media), and sharpening of important life skills (i.e., speaking and listening, imagination, creative expression, and critical thinking, respect for others, confidence and cooperation, and technical curiosity). Expanded Mission Statement
SLB began pursuing its mission in 1978 with The Saturday Light Brigade, a Saturday morning public radio program that blends acoustic music, live performances by youth and adults, participatory puzzles, on-air telephone calls, and interviews with other community-based nonprofits serving youth and families. Programming grew substantially between 1990 and 2000, as SLB built a strong and loyal audience, winning 10 local, state and national awards. SLB launched a website in 1993 and, in 1996, created a printed newsletter of puzzles and games for families with a circulation of 10,000. The program scope expanded again in 1996, when SLB began conducting technical and self-expression workshops for children and youth from 8 to 18 years of age.
In 2004, with support from the broadcast industry, foundations, corporations and individual donors, SLB opened a $250,000 broadcast studio and training complex in the expanded Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. SLB has since emerged as a hub of community and educational activity. Our work today focuses on (1) continued production of The Saturday Light Brigade radio program and its extension as a vehicle to promote youth voice in our region and (2) school and in-studio workshops in which experienced radio broadcasters and sound engineers work with children to explore self-expression as well as the tools used to collect and process audio into a creative work.
The Saturday Light Brigade Radio Program
The Saturday Light Brigade radio program airs weekly for 6 hours. In addition to air live youth performances and youth media projects, the studio provides museum visitors with the opportunity to observe and take part in live broadcasts. SLB is heard on these stations:
- 88.3 WRCT Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon University
- 91.1 WSAJ Grove City/Grove City College
- 91.7 WNJR Washington/Washington & Jefferson College
- 90.1 WIUP Indiana/Indiana University of Pennsylvania
- 91.7 WCUC Clarion/Clarion University of Pennsylvania
- 90.7 WMCO New Concord/Muskingum College (Ohio)
- PCTV Comcast 21 Pittsburgh and Verizon 47 Greater Pittsburgh
- Radio Phoenix Internet Radio
- iQ Kids Radio Internet Radio
Every year, SLB typically features over 50 professional performers, 150-plus youth musicians and actors, and interviews with more than 100 family and youth oriented nonprofits during 52 weekly six-hour radio programs. Today, with listenership at approximately 60,000 families per week reaching 15 counties and portions of Ohio — and worldwide listeners at www.slbradio.org — The Saturday Light Brigade is one of the longest-running public radio programs in the country.
School and Studio Workshops
SLB also develops and conducts off-air workshops for schools, scout and youth groups as well as after-school programs. Serving approximately 8,000 youth per year, SLB is committed to providing effective and engaging radio- and audio-based programming for children and youth ages 6-18.
SLB has developed and conducted hundreds of youth radio projects including: (1) technical and self-expression workshops; (2) reflective essay writing and recording workshops; (3) youth broadcast, podcast and CD projects; (4) career exploration; (5) oral history; and (6) youth philanthropy. Today, with its expanded facilities, field equipment and new technologies SLB serves more than 2,000 children and youth annually. Many of the youth media projects produced by SLB workshop participants have been broadcast as well as archived at www.neighborhoodvoices.org, an SLB website designed for rapid on-demand playback and download of community-based audio.
We believe in collaborating with others and maintain www.youthmediaresources.org as an educational tool for the community. Designed to catalog programs and tools, encourage youth expression and explore the impact of media and technology on youth, the new site has emerged as a resource for practitioners, funders and educators committed to supporting a community around empowering and educating youth audiences.