USC Annenberg and KQED’s The California Report Produce In-Depth “20something” Series on Lives of Young Californians

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LOS ANGELES, May 18, 2012 – USC Annenberg has teamed up with KQED’s statewide radio service, The California Report, to produce an in-depth series titled “20something” that explores the intimate spaces of young people’s lives. The series debuts today, with new episodes airing each week for at least seven weeks.

The series, which includes Web content produced in collaboration with KQED and USC Annenberg’s Neon Tommy, explores the lives of young people who come from unique backgrounds that cut across religion, ethnicity, nationality, geography, legal status and education level. The stories aim to reveal young Californians – and their goals and dreams – in their own words.

The series can be heard live online at 4:30 p.m. PST Fridays at Web content can be found at and KQED’s The California Report airs on more than 30 public radio station across the state; in Los Angeles, it airs from 10:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sundays on KPCC 89.3 FM; in the Bay Area, it airs at 4:30 p.m. Fridays on KQED 88.5 FM.

The reporting was conducted by eight graduate students in USC Annenberg Professor Sandy Tolan’s advanced radio documentary class and edited by Tolan and Victoria Mauleón, associate senior producer of The California Report. The student reporters are Nicole Banner, Jake de Grazia, Raquel Estupinan, Tara Kangarlou, Michele Malkasian, Arezou Rezvani, Megan Sweas, and Yasser Zhang.

“These young journalists spent many hours over four months profiling young people as their lives unfolded over time,” Tolan said. “This documentary access made possible intimate portraits that you don’t hear every day.”

Those profiled include a Nigerian-born global activist, a student veteran struggling to adjust, a woman working at a high school for formerly incarcerated youth, a Chinese-American real estate entrepreneur, an Iranian American confronting the image of her community in the Beverly Hills diaspora and a 23-year-old Honduran student at UCLA who is gay and seeking political asylum.

“We’re proud to be partnering with USC Annenberg on the ’20something’ project,” Mauleón said. “The efforts of Sandy Tolan’s students allow KQED’s The California Report to provide listeners around the state with a rare glimpse inside the lives of the ‘Twentysomething’ generation. These are important stories about people who may shape the future of our state. It’s a series everyone should hear.”

The California Report plans to expand the series beyond its seven parts and broadcast pieces throughout the year.

“The ‘20something’ series brings to light the experiences of young Californians whose stories seldom, if ever, reach beyond their own neighborhoods,” said Geneva Overholser, director of the USC Annenberg School of Journalism. “Much of what we hear is harrowing, much is hopeful; all of it is deeply moving. I’m so proud of our students’ truly exceptional work and grateful to Sandy Tolan for his stewardship.”

For the students, the series gave them the invaluable opportunity to produce professional work for statewide public radio.

“They got the opportunity to really zero in on one person – and get to know not only the craft of radio but also how better to interview people and how to reflect their truth for a public audience,” Tolan said. “By doing that, they started to understand the individual threads and the fabric that make up our community.”

And students quickly found the stories of their peers, although told from a young point of view, could appeal to a much broader audience.

“It really touches on all generations,” student reporter Nicole Banner, who just earned her journalism master’s degree, said of the series. Her story profiles a 23-year-old Inglewood man, and his mother, who together are trying to cope with the trauma he’s experienced from the violence he has seen in his community.

“People will get a bit more insight into the psyche of the 20-something and realize we’re dealing with a lot of the problems older adults are going through,” Banner said. “We have struggles and are dealing with social issues like everyone else. And we do have real ideas and plans for the world.”

About the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism
Located in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California, the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism is a national leader in education and scholarship in the fields of communication, journalism, public diplomacy and public relations. With an enrollment of more than 2,200 students, USC Annenberg offers doctoral, graduate and undergraduate degree programs, as well as continuing development programs for working professionals, across a broad scope of academic inquiry. The school’s comprehensive curriculum emphasizes the core skills of leadership, innovation, service and entrepreneurship and draws upon the resources of a networked university in a global urban environment.