A friend brought 16-year old Billy Mathis to the Queens Library for Teens in Far Rockaway a few months ago to check out the new hip hop radio workshop, and he was hooked.
"I was like that couple of hours isn't it enough and I was addicted to music," said Mathis, who also goes by DJ Lil Viks. "So you had to go home and I kept on recording and I went on Soundcloud and now I have more plays than him."
He is part of a group of 15 teens, grade 6-12, that have been putting together a podcast for three days a week since November. The first episode debuted Thursday at the library.
"They have over 30 hours of content that they've sprinkled down into 20 minute podcasts," said Brandon Jeffries, youth counselor and Director of the Queens Library for Teens in Far Rockaway. The Jamaica, Queens native devised the idea to have a radio workshop from his own interest in the industry. He didn't learn about broadcasting until he attended Syracuse University.
"They are seeing themselves in a career that more often than not you don't hear about until college," said Jeffries.
In the free workshop, everyone learns all facets of the broadcast industry including editing, engineering, interview skills, research and terminology. Teens also come up with the topics that range from tattoo piercings to profiling non-profits like Rock Safe Streets, a local group that wants to stop gun violence.
After Thursday's listening session, 17-year-old Marinne Andre and 16-year-old Jeremiah Lloyd interviewed DJ Chuck Chillout of 107.5FM WBLS. They asked the Bronx native questions like if he ever met Tupac or Biggie, and what he would do if he wasn't a DJ.
"Oh it was different they were asking a lot of questions," said DJ Chuck Chillout. "I loved every minute of it."
Mathis, or DJ Viks, said DJ Chuck Chillout offered to be his mentor. He wants to pursue this as a career, and already turned his home closet into a recording studio.
Other teens who are interested can enroll at any time. The program goes until May, which is also when another listening session is planned.
Queens Library is funding the show through a grant from the NYC Department of Youth and Community Development.
You can listen to the podcasts on www.queenslibrary.org