HRN Radio Scholars: Pass the Spatula - HRN and Food Education Fund at Food and Finance High School

Follow along with our brand new education offering at NYC's Food and Finance High School as HRN's Education Staff develops a podcast with students for their Spring 2024 issue of Pass the Spatula. Our Head of Growth, Frank Mentesana, has the scoop!

HRN and FEF at Food and Finance High School

On the inaugural day of the Pass the Spatula, the food media program focused on storytelling in both print and digital media organized by the Food Education Fund in collaboration with Heritage Radio Network (HRN), HRN’s Education Staff welcomed a diverse group of passionate high school students from Food and Finance High School.

During Tuesday’s meeting, students were introduced to the history of HRN and its impactful role in amplifying voices within the food community. They listened to a past HRN episode created by a previous Food and Finance High School student, and were presented with the podcasting curriculum that they will embark upon this semester.

With HRN, students will learn about the power of storytelling through podcasting and the essential skills needed to craft compelling narratives. HRN Educator Elizabeth Fisher will lead hands-on activities that will immerse the students in the technical aspects of podcast production, from recording techniques to editing software. They will be encouraged to explore their unique passions and personal experiences connected to food, understanding how their voices can contribute to meaningful conversations around food culture, sustainability, and social justice.

HRN and FEF at Food and Finance High School

The group collectively brainstormed the theme for the Spring 2024 issue of Pass the Spatula. After a lengthy discussion of interesting and intersecting ideas, the students decided on three potential themes: HOME, SCRAPS, and HUNGER. The three topics were taken to a vote. In a close-cut race, with a singular vote, SCRAPS finished on top.

Our goal for this collaboration between HRN and the Food Education Fund is that students will create HRN podcast episodes aligned with the next edition of Pass the Spatula, centered around this edition’s theme –SCRAPS. Most importantly, students will be poised with the skills to become the next generation of food storytellers, sharing their perspectives and shaping the future of food.




Session 1: Let's Get Started
February 6, 2024 

At last Tuesday’s weekly Pass the Spatula meeting, four students eagerly volunteered to join the Pass the Spatula’s podcasting cohort. All students learned from Joshua David Stein and Courtney Gooch, the magazine’s designer, for the first half of the meeting, learning the fundamentals of graphic design and magazine layout. The four podcasters then broke off from the main Pass the Spatula group to participate in critical listening activities and begin brainstorming ideas for their collective podcast episode and individual audio stories. 

Students were given welcome packets and overviewed their nine-week syllabus geared toward creating a podcast episode. They then discussed Pauline Oliveros Deep (or Quantum) Listening theory and praxis. Students discussed the difference between hearing (unconscious/ inactive) and listening (conscious/ active), and focal and global listening. After the group discussion, they practiced deep listening by listening to two songs, attempting to identify each instrument and sound. 

Students then discussed the diverse types of audio stories and podcast formats, from news and trends, to panel discussions, monologue, co-host, non-fictional narrative, interviews, and others. Students learned of the basic differences between each format and discussed the ability to blend different formats togethers, keeping in mind what formats they would like to work with when creating their episodes and stories. Students listened to a segment of This American Life, as an example of non-fictional narrative audio storytelling. 

Finally, students brainstormed episode topic and story ideas for their audio stories and episode, revolving around the theme of this edition of Pass the Spatula: Scraps. Students' ideas organically fell in line with the concept of class divides when attempting to live a zero waste lifestyle. For example, one student would like to explore the oxymoron of “zero-waste products,” and how such products are marketed toward upper-middle class consumers rather than low-income consumers. Another student would like to create an audio story about using alternative food products to create traditional recipes: What do home cooks and professional chefs do in a pinch when they don’t have specific ingredients? How is using what you have, rather than buying new ingredients, an ever accessible form of living a zero waste lifestyle? Another student thought to challenge restaurants around what they do with their waste (scraps), considering the cost and benefits of sustainable practices in the restaurant industry. 

For homework, students were assigned to listen to the Meat and Three episode: The Flavor of Memory, and make notes of how different types of audio stories and different topics align with one overarching episode theme. They are also to listen to any podcast of their choosing to share with the group next class. Students were asked to partake in a deep listening while walking through the city, taking notes of 10 distinct sounds and dialogue that they overheard and usually tune out. Lastly, students were asked to further flesh out their story ideas. 

Next class, the group will learn about ambient sounds, how to best choose interview subjects, and begin creating a story map for their respective audio stories. 

Session 2: Buzzing with Ideas
March 5, 2024 

With each session, HRN Radio Scholars continue to chart new territories in storytelling, exemplifying a commitment to innovation and collaboration in their podcasting journey.

Following a canceled class due to the overrated NYC “snow storm,” the HRN Radio Scholars jumped right back into the project. Student creators made great progress in shaping their podcast episodes and building upon their initial momentum, refining their concepts, and outlining the trajectory of their podcasts.

Each student exhibited a unique vision for their own episodes. Aylin expressed interest in aligning her episode with the ongoing narrative of "Scrap, Four Ways," demonstrating a keen awareness of thematic cohesion with the Pass the Spatula Magazine. Meanwhile, Traceena proposed documenting a no-waste recipe journey shared with her mother, or delving into the pressing issue of food waste within educational institutions, exploring potential ways to work with the magazine's culinary section.

Angel shared his plans to adapt his documentary project on restaurant food waste that he’s working on in another class into an engaging audio narrative, showcasing versatility and adaptability in storytelling mediums. 

The group also discussed of crafting an episode that chronicles the behind-the-scenes workings of the Pass The Spatula project, capturing discussions and updates each week as a countdown to publication.

They also brought up the possibility of collaborating with other NYC students, specifically from the Parsons School of Design, and brainstormed ideas for an interview episode.

Next week, they will bring a fleshed-out story map outlining their story ideas, potential interview subjects, and how they plan to tell their story.