In the Belly of the Western Whale: Anniversary Message

“They say at the end of the world, some dang fool’s gonna say, ‘Hey relax, it ain’t the end of the world.”

When I was a teen, I developed a self-destructive frame of mind in one respect which persists to this day.  That is, if you say, as people often do, that “Somebody should do something about that!,” you first ask if you are that somebody.

The precipitating event that created TALKBACK was a sixteen year old girl at my sons’ high school, in a moment of hoplessness, taking her own life.  It forced me to take a hard look at our society here in the West and I saw how we place a destructive minefield in front of our young people, especially teens.  The economy preys upon our young using the tools of technology and the out-of-control media, marketing everything from sex, drugs, violence, narcissism, materialism, hedonism, and every kind of technology, with no regard for the fact that they have not yet reached an adult level of perspective gained through experience.  Then we are upset with them when they fail, rebel, turn on themselves, each other, or on us with violence, anger and desperation.  As little as three decades ago, we only marketed just two things to our children: cereal and cigarettes.

I started TALKBACK, now past its third year, as an opportunity for young people to speak their minds, express themselves, maybe vent a little, maybe be an example for viewing teens of a reasoned pro-active approach, a stepping stone to other opportunities, and a fairly unique, intellectual and altruistic experience to blow up on college apps, scholarship apps and first resumes.  Our incredible teen staff has made all this possible.  Tianna Manon, who I call a big prize in a little package and a Rochester treasure, will one day be back in DC moving the shakers and shaking the movers.  We will say we knew her when she was at School Without Walls.  Jordanae’ Smith is a very multi-talented young lady, and together our new segments are their brain-babies.  We look forward to working with our new staff and interns Bernard Rodgers, Olivia Harrison, Timoni Correa-Buntley, Webster Kehoe and Destiny Cowans.  And we say farewell to Dean Lawrence who is leaving us for the military, in search of new skill-sets.  We wish Veronica Arnone well in college in VT and hope for some articles from her as staff writer.  Shantinique is joining Celine Anderson in producing the Ask An Expert segments, and we hope we’ll still hear from Tatiana Lovejoy from time to time.  Victor is an RIT student in advertising who will be on our staff directing marketing.  If you are a teen who likes to write or is into journalism, you can be a staff writer or “foreign” correspondent.

We have to say thank you to the ROCTV Producer’s Co-Op which crews for us in the studio, especially Jim Strauss our floor manager who produces Spotlight on Schools, and also Stan “Flawless” Main who produces Rochester Movie Makers Director’s Forum, Debra Rhoten of The Big Picture, and Judy Davis of Crossroads.  And sometimes Max Kessler of Freedom Roc’s.

We hope it will be a good year and that many many teens will participate and let their voices be heard.  Look for us at your school or invite us in.  We’re here for you.


Categories: Article, Editorial


We are a show and website dedicated to youth: the issues we face and the goals youth have accomplished. The show is all about their obstacles; how commonplace they are, and how other teens have overcome them. The counterpart site/Twitter/Facebook is all about uplifting youth. We offer a blog that will focus on one topic every week and offer advice through it. We also hope to soon incorporate youth work on it. We would love to showcase your work: your writings, art, and anything else you're proud of! Our twitter is all about motivating you; so that you end everyday the best possible you!


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