National Center for Media Engagement Features Eatyourradio

The National Center for Media Engagement recently featured Eatyourradio.  Here’s their report:

Preventing childhood obesity is at the top of the menu throughout the nation — from theUSDA’s food pyramid-replacing plate to First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign to activist chef Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution. Now, public media is taking a bite out of the issue, too.

KGNU, a small community station in Boulder, Colorado cooked up a project called “Eat Your Radio,” aimed at getting 5th graders in Denver Public Schools engaged in a healthy discussion about healthy eating.  The station joined forces with the Integrated Nutrition Education Program (INEP) at the University of Colorado which offers a curriculum and activities to low-income Denver schools. As the media partner, KGNU brings radio to the table.

Among other things, Eat Your Radio features an online nutritionist named “Dr. Carrot,” an anonymous expert who answers kids’ questions about how to eat better. Dr. Carrot answers questions like “Do you eat candy?” “Do foods give you acne?” “Are granola bars healthy?” What about high fructose corn syrup?”

Moreover, Shelley Schlender, project coordinator for Eat Your Radio, works with students to help them create short audio segments on a range of food-related topics. Some of these conversations take place during “Super Food Days,” i.e., special days dedicated to getting kids to give fruits and veggies a chance.


O carrot you are so crunchy! And you are pointy!

You don’t have a smell. You are so tasty when dipped

in dressing. You are so glorious!

“My name is Jennifer I am a 5th grader at Ashley Elementary. My idea is to put healthy food on commercials. And those commercials will say that what you been missing about healthy food and why it’s good for your body. There will be commercials about apples, bananas, strawberries, zucchini, carrots, celery and broccoli…”

“My name is Robert and I’m in the 5th grade at Ashley Elementary and this is my idea for how to get people healthy: Wrap up vegetables inside candy bars. We should also put vegetable words inside the Pledge of Allegiance. And it sounds like this, I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of Vegetables, and to the broccoli for which it stands, one nation, indivisible with liberty and broccoli for all.”*

Says INEP’s Max Young:  “Hearing kids talk about food is more impactful than hearing an adult say, ‘eat your fruit and vegetables.’” Besides interviewing each other, writing rap songs and ­–of course– laughing,  Eat Your Radio participants survey their peers about nutrition facts and share recipes. Still, the kids are looking to grown-ups for guidance and role modeling.”

KGNU is developing a manual to document its Eat Your Radio project so that other community and public stations can learn from their experience. Impact-wise, KGNU won a prestigious state-wide award for Community Service Reporting from the Colorado Association of Broadcasters. General Manager Sam Fuqua is rightfully proud of that.

“We are the little guys in this market.  A project like Eat Your Radio shows us that even little stations can do a lot . . .  We have things we can offer that larger public radio stations can’t. It has motivated us to think bigger.”

Beyond the award, Fuqua says there’s additional evidence the program is working, pointing to INEP’s own evaluation of the project that shows “in the classrooms where they are doing radio pieces, the kids seem to have a higher investment in healthier eating and behaviors. They got it better. It stuck more.”

Principal Kenneth Hulslander at Ashley Elementary says besides teaching kids interviewing skills, Eat Your Radio is helping them make better choices. “The big thing I’ve seen is improvement in what kids are snacking on. That’s the huge change. I see kids running around with fruit in their face instead of hot Cheetos. I’m seeing less of those Lunchable things, fewer sugary drinks, so-called fruit drinks. I know it’s had an impact on kids and families.”

Some tasty tidbits to sample Eat Your Radio:

Why are kids overweight these days?

Rock, Maria & Diana …the broccoli hater

All About Hot Cheetos

Kids’ Ideas About Healthy Eating

PARTNERS: Denver Public Schools. Colorado Health Foundation, Integrated Nutrition Education Program at University of Colorado, Denver