Radio Days

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These days, however, getting kids to like radio doesn't end with, well, just radio. Museums that specialize in radio are opening up across the U.S. Explains Carl Smith, founder of the 2-year-old Southern Appalachian Radio Museum in Asheville, N.C.: "We need to show kids how we got to where we are in terms of technology." The Museum of Television and Radio, with branches in New York City and Los Angeles, offers such workshops as Re-creating Radio, in which kids from 9 to 14 produce an old-time radio drama using scripts, sound effects and music. A workshop called Now Hear This! Telling a Story with Sound demonstrates how sound is used to advance the plot or create characters. "Our goal is to help build critical listening skills," says Robert Batscha, the museum's president. "Kids are so positive about TV and radio that it's a natural vehicle." With that same goal in mind, the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting in St. Louis Park, Minn., which houses a collection of antique broadcast equipment, provides studio time for kids to produce live radio broadcasts. "We've been booked to capacity ever since we opened. We can't keep up with the demand," says Stephen Raymer, the museum's managing director.

But even radio's biggest boosters know they can't count on its past glory to win future fans, and so most radio stations have an Internet component that offers young ears online access. The Arbitron study found that approximately a quarter of the youngsters polled listened to radio over the Internet. WFMU's Greasy Kid Stuff, for example, can be heard live over the Internet www.wfmu.org/gks), and 26% of its contributing listeners tune in at least part of the time online. Programmers at npr are thinking about the Web too. "In the future, online may be a place for npr to reach younger people," says Jay Kernis, senior vice president for programming for National Public Radio. Indeed, hooking up with the new technology may be just the way for radio to make sure that kids don't tune it out.

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