Peer-run radio talk show addresses tough topics facing today's youth

February 09, 2001|By MARIO RENTERÍA, Staff Writer

Sex, love, relationships, abortion, drugs, alcohol, HIV, AIDS, tobacco, homosexuality and suicide are some of the issues youths are facing.

For many youths, talking about any of those issues to parents or adults is difficult.

How do you tell your parents you are pregnant?

How will people treat you when they find out you are HIV-positive?

Those are difficult questions that only a person experiencing the situation can truly answer.

A radio talk show in El Centro is dedicating itself to talking about these issues.

What makes the program unique is it isn't run by a board-certified physician or psychiatrist or counselor. It's run by youths in the age 16 to 20 peer group.

The program is called "Teen Talk" and airs from 4 to 8 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays on KUBO 88.7 FM.

The program started about a year and a half ago after those at the Salinas headquarters of the network with which KUBO is affiliated said they wanted to see a teen talk show started in the Imperial Valley, said Ana Lilia Barraza, KUBO station manager.


The station was awarded a grant from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation that had been used for the program. The grant was $25,000 and for 18 months. It will expire in June, after which those involved in the program hope to receive more money from other organizations.

The program involves about 25 youths. It started with about four young people involved. The youths are from Brawley, El Centro, Calexico and Mexicali.

Each night a different group of youths takes the microphones and talks about the issues.

On one show an invited individual with HIV talked about the disease and how it has affected his life and those around him. He talked about the medicine he has to take every day and the side effects of those medications.

On another show the topic was homosexuality. A person from outside the Imperial Valley talked about his experiences with "coming out." He told of how he could not enter the military because of his homosexuality and about the difficulties he has in his home town because of its conservative nature.

"These days you can't hold back on what you think. We have to open our minds," said Paola Herrera, 17, of El Centro.

"We talk about these issues so others can inform themselves," she added.

Paola attends Southwest High School and has participated in the program for about four months.

"It's time parents start listening to their kids," said Frank Salazar, youth coordinator at the station.

"It's hard enough to drag it out of them. I remember we never told our parents everything we did," he said.

Barraza added, "That is why this can be a good tool for parents, so they understand what kids are thinking."

Joanna Rodriguez, 17, of El Centro said, "I like it when people come and talk about their experiences. They talk about how their life has changed."

Joanna attends Southwest High and has been with the program for about four months.

Mario Soto, 18, of El Centro has been involved with the program since it started.

"I do them for my brother, to inform him. I also do it to educate and help teen-agers," he said.

Soto, another Southwest student, produces the show.

Estela Pimienta, 17, of Mexicali, said she likes "the fact that the youth can give their opinion, without censorship."

Cecilia Cota, 16, of El Centro, who attends Central Union High, enjoys working the program because she likes meeting all the new people.

"I've always liked talk shows on the radio and television," she added.

Cecilia has been with the program for about a year.

Youths interested in participating in the show should contact the station at 337-8051.

Staff Writer Mario Rentería can be reached at 370-8549.

Imperial Valley Press Online Articles