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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.

KJZZ’s News Director Al Macias is part of an elite class of trusted, veteran journalists who have covered Arizona news for more than 30 years.Macias helps oversee daily operations for the KJZZ newsroom and Fronteras: the Changing America Desk. This is second nature for Macias, who is a National Association of Television Arts and Sciences Silver Circle Society member and an inductee of the Society of Professional Journalists Order of the Silver Key Society.Macias began serving the KJZZ news team in October 2010, helping the station launch Fronteras: The Changing America Desk as the project's managing editor. He became the news director in January 2015. Macias, who has an extensive television background, is helping Fronteras Desk reporters disseminate reports using a multimedia platform that includes radio, web, video and social media tools to engage listeners across the globe.He also is no stranger to building a news team from the ground up. Macias was part of the management team that launched the KNXV newsroom in 1994 and oversaw its growth from a staff of twenty to more than sixty in less than a year. Additionally, he served in managerial roles at KPNX from 1981-1994 and as an assignment editor and manager for KTVK.During his television career, Macias won two Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards for spot news coverage and public service programming.Macias takes great pride in his public service work, as well. He is a founding board member of the Arizona Latino Media Association and is part of the Raul H. Castro Institute Advisory Committee. In addition, he served Maricopa County’s communications department and spent time as a Partnership Specialist with the U.S. Census Bureau.A Phoenix native, Macias earned a journalism degree from Arizona State University. He has been married since 1978 and has two adult daughters.