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The Gay Agenda

Project Overview

A radio show addressing queer politics and culture.

Identifying the Problem

Kevin took a university course called Writing for the Public, in which the students were tasked with using digital media to address various social issues. His project looked at youth homelessness among LGBT youth, an issue he wanted to continue to address after the semester was over. Kevin decided to develop a show at his university’s radio station that addressed queer politics and culture, an issue he believed lacked awareness among the student population.

Creating A Solution

It was important to Kevin that the show had both a local and global perspective. He began by researching LGBT-related organizations in Pittsburgh, which he reached out to for assistance in creating segments for the show. With the help of these organizations, the show highlighted important issues and work happening in Pittsburgh and beyond. One of the more famous guests who Kevin interviewed on his radio show was Zach Wahls, the young man who addressed the Iowa House Judiciary Committee in January 2011 to oppose the state’s proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage in the state.

Kevin also compiled an archive of news stories that he wanted to address on the show. He organized the stories by issue and country so that he could chart the progression of events and give a sense of an ongoing narrative when presenting these stories on the air. Kevin wanted his show to connect Pittsburgh to the rest of world, so whenever possible, he tied a local issue or event to one on the national or international level. 

Kevin was thrilled with the reaction to the show, and believes it created a palpable change in the work environment at the radio station. People got really excited about the show not just because the content was good, but also because it demonstrated that the university was the kind of place where a show like this could be a success.

Lessons Learned

The Gay Agenda was Kevin’s first foray into radio, but he was nevertheless surprised at how much preparation he needed to feel confident on the air. “Some people can just go in with notes and carry a segment effortlessly,” he says. “Unless I was responding to an interview subject on the fly, I wrote down everything ahead of time, and then practiced it a few times so it sounded more natural - and I still flubbed my words a lot.” Kevin’s work involved a great deal of writing and re-writing. Additionally, he listened to several radio shows and podcasts to get a feel for the language, rhythms and structure of a good segment. He would advise others looking to execute a similar project to prepare as much as possible ahead of time. He also believes it is crucial to secure as many guests as possible ahead of beginning the show, since guests make the show more dynamic and relieve you from doing all the talking. Having guests on a radio show also turns it into more of a conversation than a speech.

Funding

Kevin did not raise any money for this project, as the University of Pittsburgh provided the space and equipment for the radio show to its students for free. Several organizations assisted Keven to create compelling and informative stories, including Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Community Center, StandUp for Kids, the Pitt Men's Study, the Rainbow Alliance, and the It Gets Better Project. Kevin also received a tremendous amount of support from his former teacher Mike Elko, who helped him with researching, contacting and booking guests for the show.

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About This Project

HIA Program:

Denmark Denmark 2011

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