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Jon Hoban

The Spot 127 Youth Media Program is located in the Maryvale neighborhood of Phoenix.

PHOENIX -- I went back to high school recently. Well, kind of. This sure isn’t what my high school was like.

KJZZ kicked off its Spot 127 Youth Media Center program in 2011. As its website reads, “Spot 127 empowers high school students to develop state-of-the-art skills in digital media and journalism while connecting participants to higher education. Through this unique model, Spot 127 seeks to build self-esteem and self-effica­cy in participants.”

The program recently had a formal opening with students acting as tour guides. While many of the students exhibited the normal teenage gawkishness you might expect, the students I met were polite, courteous and obviously proud of their program.

Some of them already seemed ready to grab the microphone and launch their careers. They provided a running commentary during the tour. They described their editorial meetings and process they go through to gather information, set up interviews and write their stories.

These kids do this because they want to. Most of them get no high school credit for the four hours a week they spend at Spot 127.

This effort is intended to develop an interest in journalism and prepare them for journalism classes at the college level. I am hopeful that Spot 127 will give these young journalists a jump start on their academic careers and in turn get them ready for the world of radio journalism.

Just like KJZZ, Spot 127 is funded with the support of Rio Salado College and Friends of Public Radio Arizona.

Al Macias, former KJZZ news director, is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.