`Teen Talk' on cable channel AACPS-TV gives Arundel students control of their programming

Produced by, starring teenagers

November 25, 2007|By Susan Gvozdas | Susan Gvozdas,Special to the Sun

The Anne Arundel County school system might have found a way to attract young people to its cable-access channel: Give them control over their own programs.

Usually a home for school board meetings and parent programs, the cable station AACPS-TV aired the premiere episode last week of Teen Talk, a show produced by and starring teenage students.

The topics might be low-key: applying to colleges, assessing the effect of extra study halls or making the transition from middle school to high school. But they are on the mind of its 17-year-old host, Roni LaRoque, and likely those of her peers.

She selects the guests, develops the questions and does the on-camera interviews. A film crew of adults takes care of the rest.

LaRoque, a senior at Broadneck High School, said she had not thought about broadcasting as a career. She has dabbled in theater, is student government president and is a yearbook editor, but journalism had not crossed her mind.

"It's really opened my eyes to what I could do for my career," said LaRoque, who wants to major in communications.

The show was conceived by Katie Brophy, the county specialist for student leadership and involvement. In January, she worked with LaRoque and two other students when they put together a show about the Invisible Children fundraiser held by Broadneck, Old Mill and Severna Park high schools. LaRoque was host and interviewed two other students about the charity, which helps displaced children in Uganda.

She handled the job so well that Brophy thought she would make a great host for a student talk show.

"It was something completely different," LaRoque said. "I'm really glad I could be the source for this project."

Brophy said she wants to highlight the positive things that students are doing.

"I hope we would have a waiting list of people who want to be on it," she said.

After the airing of just one episode, LaRoque has gotten calls from students clamoring to be guests. She wants to ensure that she interviews students from a wide spectrum of county schools, not just classmates at Broadneck.

New episodes will run twice a month and be aired repeatedly. LaRoque wants to do shows spotlighting student athletes and those with internships.

"Anything that people should hear, anything that's cool," she said.

The format is simple. The program is taped Thursdays at county school board headquarters, 2644 Riva Road. LaRoque sits in a chair facing her guest on a small set with TV lighting equipment in the background. It looks more like a backstage chat. A monitor sits between the two and flashes images from the show's opening.

The conversation is smooth and relaxed. Dress is casual. LaRoque wore jeans for her first two interviews. So did her first guest, Shannon Rodenheiser, a senior at Arundel High School. The two talked about the Connecting Arundel Teachers and Students program, which divides students into career clusters that meet daily to study, hear speakers or meet with upper-class mentors, Rodenheiser said.

Hannah Staisloff, a freshman at Severna Park High School, was a guest for the second episode of the program. She and another student talked about the transition from middle school to high school and the increased workload.

Staisloff does not watch AACPS-TV on Comcast and Millennium Cable Channel 96 and Verizon Channel 36. She does not think her classmates do either, but all her friends say they will tune in to watch for her debut.

"I think it's going to be a good show," Staisloff said.

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