Tackling tough teen topics

Radio show offers ‘Insight’ into issues, community outreach

On a recent Saturday when radio show host Quellique Serf, 13, an eighth-grader at Capital Middle, asked her high school counterparts about the issues they face, she got simple answers.

“Fights. Bullying,” said J’lyssa Williams, 17, of Career High. “High school, it’s hard.”

Hard, also, are the topics tackled — sex, sexting, bullying and other issues teenagers face — during a new radio program, “Teens’ Insights,” airing at 1 p.m. Saturdays in Baton Rouge on WTQT-FM, a low-power Christian station located at 94.9 on the radio dial.

The show is hosted by teens for teens and for adults who want to know more about what teen life is really about. Adult guests are also interviewed by the teens about local events and issues.

The show is an educational outreach program designed to provide a forum for teens as well as a hands-on way for teens interested in radio and/or journalism careers to see what it is really like, explained adult sponsors Albert Torregano III and Sarah Holliday.

“I always believe that you learn by doing, so being on the radio and being able to communicate over the radio may inspire some of these young people to go into the broadcast industry,” said Ernest Johnson, president and CEO of Louisiana Community Development Capital Fund, a nonprofit corporation that owns WTQT-FM.

“The young people are promoting the idea of reducing the violence in the community because they are also a part of that social issue and by coming into the station they get a part of that feel for the business,” Johnson said.

Zipporah “Miss Z” Williams, a Southern University graduate and the show’s production manager, said they try to keep the show “real.” It went on the air on March 9.

“Whatever teens are going through on a day-to-day basis, they talk about it among themselves and share it with the community,” Williams said. “It’s not always clean.”

During the March 30 show, Williams asked, “What is the hardest thing about being a teenager in high school right now?”

“Passing the tests. Some people struggle,” J’lyssa replied. “Sometimes I might not pass, and I have to keep practicing and keep practicing and do my best.”

“I struggle,” added Janel Dupree, 16, of Tara High.

The hardest tests for middle school students are the achievement tests, added Quellique. “Me, myself, if I don’t pass them, I will really cry. I want to get straight A’s, and when I get a B I’m really disappointed.”

When Holliday asked the teens about how they study, for example by setting up a schedule, Quellique answered, “Teens today, like, they don’t really focus on studying. Most people try to cheat.”

Holliday challenged the teens to “change your mind-set, because you can’t cheat your way through life. You may as well study and have confidence in yourself. You can do whatever you want to do when you set your mind to it.”

The topic turned to “sexting” and Quellique read a definition of it, “when kids trade X-rated pictures or sexual text messages.”

All the teens said they know girls who have sent explicit photos of themselves to boys. The show’s other junior high host, Derrique Serf, 15, of Capitol Middle, said he’s received sexting messages.

“I believe the girls that do that are disrespecting their bodies,” Derrique said. “Girls should treasure their body.”

As a Christian who attends Healing Place Church, he said, he believes, according to the Bible, that young people, “should abstain from sexual immorality.”

“People feel love when they are having sex, but people don’t even show love anymore,” Derrique said, “because sex is easy to get now, but love is harder to find.”

Quellique advised parents listening to the show to ask questions and be open about what their teens are going through.

“Make them feel comfortable to come to you to talk about anything,” she said.

The teens also interviewed Seymore Augustus, father of LSU and WNBA basketball star Seimone Augustus, about Seimone’s life growing up in the Gus Young neighborhood and they promoted a fundraising basketball game held recently at the park.

Torregano is president of “Insight,” and a supervisor at Gus Young Park who attends the Chapel in the Oaks.

“This is not just a radio show but a ministry to bring in young people,” Torregano said. “We want to bring something positive to the community — especially the Gus Young community.”

To be a teen guest on the show, email Holliday at hollico1@aol.com.

For more information about WTQT-FM, call (225) 334-7490.