SPOT 127, KJZZ’s youth 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 aimed at low-income and at-risk high school students ages 14-18 in the metro Phoenix area. Our free in-school and afterschool programs and summer 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, and some are even featured on KJZZ 91.5 FM’s local news programming.
What Students Say About SPOT 127
Since opening our doors in the West Valley in 2012, SPOT 127 has served more than 650 students in our afterschool, in-school and summer programs. After completing a semester at SPOT, 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 SPOT as a "welcoming environment to learn digital media and leadership skills," and a fun place to make friends, get out of their comfort zone and get creative.
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 at-risk 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.