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In STEM, “M” can Also Stand for Music


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  • Michele Peters, AZSciTech Writer

AZHP

KBAQ and KJZZ have been the go to stations for classical music and jazz in the Valley for years.  So in these days of STEM where do these two stalwart institutions of music fit?  They fit perfectly.  Both stations have managed an innovative miracle, mixing some of the best music in the Valley with some of the best science and technology in the Valley.

KJZZ is long known as the station and voice of public radio, a voice for the community and now… a voice for the sciences and technology.  While the dulcet tones of jazz greats Duke Ellington, Harry Connick, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, Dave Brubeck or Wynton Marsalis sail on the airwaves of KJZZ, so do Spot 127 and on broadband, the Arizona Science & Innovation Desk.

In STEM, “M” can Also Stand for Music 480x2424SPOT 127 was created through the collaboration of Friends of Public Radio Arizona, Rio Salado College and KJZZ 91.5 FM and is currently in its third year.  The Center, an innovative, educational outreach youth media center (and successful dropout prevention initiative), is aimed at low-income and at-risk teenagers in the Phoenix area; it empowers Valley youth with digital media skills that are vital to today’s information, technology-driven economy.

The project-based curriculum is actual hands-on training in digital photography, video and audio production and social media that result in students who possess media literacy competencies while honing their media creation and critical-thinking skills.  During the fully immersive two weeks, SPOT 127 staff, KJZZ journalists and media professionals mentor students as they learn to report, write, shoot and edit audio and video stories for authentic, first-hand experience and overview of digital journalism.  And what they learn has long-range impact.  SPOT 127 students develop multimedia pieces that can be used in portfolios, scholarship applications and college applications.

All student-produced stories are distributed on the website, social media, and some are featured on KJZZ 91.5 FM’s local news programming. However, nothing says something is working like success.  An outstanding example is…Served.    Over the summer, seven participants ages 14 to 16 from SPOT 127, created a food show called Servedthat takes viewers on a behind the scenes tour of the Valley’s best food spots. Designed for the web, Served will be a monthly show that highlights the diversity and creativity of Arizona’s food scene, while providing at-home tips for viewers.  The students created the scripts, shot, edited and developed the two pilot episodes.

From digital production of Served to a healthy portion of science, and that is the KJZZ Arizona Science & Innovation Desk.  The Science & Innovation Desk is a comprehensive online source for everything science and innovation in the Valley…with a different twist.  Its team of professional reporters take the intimidation factor out of science, replacing it with fun, excitement, entertainment and understanding of what’s happening; from Comet Catalina making an appearance to a cross-country electric car driver making an appearance in Tucson, the KJZZ Science Desk has it covered.  How about an example of the breadth of topics covered?

With the additions of Spot 127 and the Arizona Science & Innovation Desk, KJZZ and KBAQ are well ensconced in the Valley, musically, educationally and now scientifically too. And with strong connections to the community and to science, KJZZ and KBAQ have an equally strong connection…and sponsorship…of the AZ SciTech Festival.  A partner since the inception of AZ SciTech Festival, five years ago, KJZZ and KBAQ have demonstrated their commitment to the community and through these science-based programs, consistently highlight all that is going on in STEM while introducing the fun, excitement and importance of science to new audiences.  Linda Pastori, Associate General Manager, Development for KJZZ and KBAQ sums up the Festival and the stations’ involvement with STEM, “…science can be intimidating, our partnership provides connectivity and awareness, it allows people to touch, feel and experience important topics in science.”   And that is music to everyone’s ears!