About SPOT 127

a pair of photos depicting the exterior of SPOT 127 Tempe and three teens doing camera training in Phoenix

Our Mission 

SPOT 127 empowers teens to develop their skills through digital media and technology. We continuously innovate our free multi-award-winning programs to meet the needs of our communities through free, year-round in and after-school instruction.

SPOT 127, a multi-award winning media center, empowers teens to find their voices and engage with their communities through photo, audio and video storytelling. We are an innovative educational outreach initiative that is a service of public radio, aimed at serving high school students ages 14-18 in the metro Phoenix area. Our free in-school and afterschool programs along with our summer boot camps provide mentoring and instruction in multimedia production.

Our project-based curriculum offers hands-on training in digital photography, video and audio production and social media. In addition to technical skills, our students gain critical leadership and 21st-century career skills to put them on a path to higher education and lifelong success. They also develop media literacy competencies while honing their media creation and critical-thinking skills. We aim to inspire students to create multimedia pieces that shine a light on the issues facing their communities. 

We offer paid internships for participants interested in multimedia journalism beginning at age 16. All student-produced stories are distributed on our website and on social media.

What Students Say About SPOT 127

Since opening our doors in 2012, SPOT 127 has served more than 850 students in our afterschool, in-school and summer programs. After completing a semester at SPOT127, students report an increase in their journalism, audio and video production skills (an average of more than 3 points on a 10-point scale). Students describe our program as a "welcoming environment to learn digital media and leadership skills." Additionally, it’s a fun place to make friends, get out of their comfort zone and get creative!

“I liked all the friendliness and support from each and every one working there. I learned a lot to due with editing and video. I really enjoyed all the hands on projects we did and how each was different than the other.”
- Grace
“I made friends and found something I want to do as a profession.”
- Sylvia
"Creating and editing audio projects at SPOT 127 made me interested in a career in audio. I am currently enrolled in an audio production program at U of A and loving it!"
- Daja
“I absolutely loved it and benefited so much by coming to SPOT. It's been incredible to be part of a program so welcoming and patient with us. I'm really glad I learned different things such as editing, interviewing and photography.”
- Victoria
“SPOT 127 has taught me more than just audio and video editing. It has allowed me to relax and become more social and more confident in myself.”
- John

The History of SPOT 127

SPOT 127 was created through the collaboration of Friends of Public Radio Arizona, a 501(c)(3) organization, Rio Salado College and KJZZ 91.5 FM. The Maryvale center opened in 2012, but the program's roots reach back to 2007, when KJZZ piloted its Teen Radio Project. The Teen Radio program sent skilled journalists into local high schools to work with students.

In 2011, with the support of Rio Salado College and Friends of Public Radio Arizona, KJZZ expanded the project into SPOT 127. The youth media center has served more than 150 students each year since spring 2012.

SPOT 127 created the Korva Coleman Excellence Awards in 2013 to recognize outstanding work from youth across the country. Today, the national awards honor high school and college journalists who produce digital work in audio, video and print. Winners receive a $1,000 college scholarship. In 2015, SPOT 127 established the Carl Matthusen Youth Leadership Award, in honor of KJZZ's longtime general manager. This award and $1,000 scholarship goes to a participant who has exhibited leadership excellence while at SPOT 127. 

In April 2014, Carstens Family Funds established the Carstens Family Funds Scholarships. The generous scholarship for four SPOT 127 graduates covers the total cost of attending any school within the Maricopa Community College District. A second scholarship opportunity for SPOT 127 students attending Maricopa Community Colleges was created in 2016 through support from the Jack Pfister Scholarship Fund.