Boca Raton, Fla.
Objective: Train youth to work in the media and give them an opportunity to run a TV show.
In a Nutshell: Every aspect of Swept Away TV is run by youth, including production, editorial decision-making, website development and writing, working the cameras and appearing on air. Participants produce 22 to 30 half-hour episodes a year, featuring interviews with music stars and reviews of movies, albums and video games.
Who Runs It: Sisters Jaime and Amanda Rich began the program in 2000, when they were 18 and 15. Twelve youths serve on the editorial board, and there is a youth director, but all the youth involved have a say in the content of the program. Nancy Rich, the mother of Jaime and Amanda, handles administrative tasks for free. She runs a teen talent contracting company. Jaime Rich, who is now in law school, does the legal work.
Where and When: Swept Away TV does not have a studio, so all footage is shot on site. The editing takes place in a room in the Rich residence. The programs air on more than 50 channels nationwide, including local access cable channels, public broadcasting affiliates and college stations.
Cost: The program collects about $2,500 annually in donations and equipment. It has received two grants from the Target department store (totaling $5,000) and one from the Boca Raton mayor’s office. Community members and parents have also donated money and hardware. Some on-site shoots cost the group $50 for insurance, which is raised by parents.
Youth Served: About 70 youth from the Miami/Boca Raton area, ages 13 to 20. Although there is no target group, many poor youth from Miami help in the production. Swept Away TV’s audience is made up primarily of 14- to 21-year-olds.
Youth Turn-On: “There are no adults running it,” Nancy Rich says. “When they come and work on Swept Away TV, the people that are in charge are their age, or maybe a little older than them. So they feel that they’re actually part of a TV crew.”
Youth Turn-Off: The kids get frustrated that their work isn’t broadcast on a channel that everyone in the nation can watch, and when someone turns them down for an interview.
Indicators of Success: Nancy Rich said 90 percent of youth involved in Swept Away TV have gone on to study or work in broadcast or film. The current student director has been offered a job as an associate producer with MTV.
Obstacles: Juggling the schedules of so many youth, most of whom are in school. And, of course, money. “You hold your breath to make sure no one drops a camera and creates a $3,000 repair,” Nancy Rich says.