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Local teens sound off on TV

Allyn Harvey

Local teens have plenty to say about the new television show Be Heard! Aspen.

It’s an outlet, a chance for teenagers to speak their minds.

It lets kids say what they really think. Where else, after all, will you find a teenager admitting on live television that he and his friends break the law by drinking alcohol before declaring, “Cops treat us like felons when they pull us over.”

Some say the best thing is the way it brings kids from different backgrounds together and shows them how much they have in common.

Other’s just say it’s fun to be on television.

Different kids have different answers. But there is one thing that just about every teen who is familiar with the program points out: There aren’t any adults running the show.

Be Heard! Aspen is a talk show that airs live every Tuesday at 2 p.m. on Grassroots Television. The host is a teenager, the panel of talking heads is composed of teenagers, the discussion topics, which have everything to do with being a high schooler, are picked by a panel of teenagers.

The show opens with pink-lettered words popping up on the screen, with a teenage girl’s voice saying, “Pink Hair. Don’t Stare. Who Cares? You Dye Your Gray Hair.”

An opening number, written and performed by John Oates, kicks in as the screen begins flashing with teen-on-the-street interviews and excerpts from the other Be Heard! programs, filmed last year in Glenwood Springs and Colorado Springs.

“We need an outlet, and some way to communicate to adults,” explains one teen standing in front of his school.

The cameras then cut to the panel of five high schoolers in the studio of Grassroots Television Channel 12. The host, sitting in the middle, introduces himself: “Hi, I’m R.A. Beattie, and this is Be Heard Aspen. Our topic today is teen drinking and driving, but first let me introduce our panel …”

The panel is made up of students from Aspen High School and at least one of the downvalley high schools – Roaring Fork High School, Yampah Mountain High School, Glenwood High or Colorado Rocky Mountain School. Standing off to the side, another student mans a computer linked to students in the Aspen High auditorium who are watching a live broadcast of the discussion.

Whenever one of the students at Aspen High has a question, they type it into a computer at the auditorium and it pops up on the screen in the Grassroots studio.

“Do you have a question from the high school?” asks Beattie, about 20 minutes into last Tuesday’s discussion about teenage drinking and driving.

“I do,” says Shannon Broughton, a junior from Aspen High standing at the computer. “How do you feel about the way the police handle youthful drunken drivers?”

“There is only one way for cops to deal with it,” answered Dana Stewart, an Aspen senior. After explaining her feelings about the seriousness of the problem, she concludes, “They have to give you a ticket – it’s their job.”

So far, two different panels have met in the Grassroots studio. The first show was hosted by Tiffany Stone, a senior at Aspen High who led a discussion on stereotypes and dress codes. The second, hosted by Beattie, was on teen drinking and driving. Beattie and three fellow Aspen students – Stewart, Cameron Wenzel and Shay Stutsman – were joined by Roaring Fork High junior Mallory Keehn.

Be Heard! Aspen is modeled after another production called Be Heard!, with a few important differences.

Be Heard! was taped last spring in front of large audiences of students from several high schools. Filming took place at two locations – the auditorium at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus in Garfield County and on location in the Citadel Mall in Colorado Springs. The programs were subsequently aired on Sunday mornings through the fall and winter on Denver’s KRMA Channel 6.

Be Heard! Aspen is being broadcast live out of the Grassroots Channel 12 studio. In place of a studio audience is the Internet link to Aspen High School, where dozens of students follow the discussion and e-mail their comments. It is being rebroadcast twice a day on Saturdays and Sundays.

All six episodes of Be Heard! were hosted by Jasmin Delarosa, a teen activist tapped by Executive Producer Chris Tribble after he saw her on a broadcast in California.

The six episodes of Be Heard! Aspen are being hosted by three students at Aspen High – Beattie, Stone and senior Carter Hansen – who will host two shows each.

Be Heard! runs for 30 minutes, but Be Heard! Aspen runs for an hour. That’s because the panel in Aspen is discussing the same topics that were discussed in the original Be Heard! programs. Segments of the original program hosted by Delarosa are played throughout the broadcast of Be Heard! Aspen, giving the kids here a taste of what their peers downvalley or on the Front Range think.

“For this program, this vision to work, it really has to have kids from different demographic backgrounds,” Tribble says.

Tribble says he’s working with several organizations to turn the Be Heard! concept into a national phenomenon. To reach that goal he’s working with Assets for Youth representative Wendy Rickert, a Basalt resident who is helping Tribble produce the programs and contact potential sponsors.

So far, two Be Heard! Aspen shows have been broadcast. Four more are scheduled to run over the next month. Tuesday, Hansen will host a discussion on perceptions of teens since the shootings at Columbine High School in 1999.

“The first shows were a success, and they’re only going to get better because we’re going to get better,” Tribble said.


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