Podcast

Teens take over the mic, share their personal stories in CBC's Mic Drop

Mic Drop creator Shari Okeke gives us a glimpse into stories you'll hear on a new CBC podcast that passes teens the mic, empowering them to share their experiences with each other.

New podcast takes you into the world of today's teens

Ben, 16, a Montreal Impact Academy player, talks about juggling the pressures of school work, social life and an intense soccer schedule on Mic Drop. (Carrie Haber/CBC)

It's amazing what you will hear when you listen. I mean really listen.

Ben, 16, opens up about living two hours away from his mom while she's undergoing cancer treatment then decides the struggle he really wants to discuss is peer pressure.

"I've been offered anything from alcohol to drugs... marijuana, Xanax," he said.

We still need people to educate adults on things that are changing.- Melissa, 13

Melissa, 13, describes being repeatedly kicked out of the bathroom at school — by older girls who assume she's a boy.

But her bigger concern is dealing with homophobic parents. Not her own — those of her friends.

"People think that adults are fine but I think we still need people to educate adults on things that are changing in the world," she said.

Eve, 14, says there's drama with friends at school and her marks are sliding but the most exhausting thing in her life is shuffling between mom's home and dad's home. Fighting tears, Eve admits she tells people she's "fine" when she's not.

"I feel like I'm being split apart, in half," she said.

These are just some of the conversations I've had while working on the new CBC podcast for teens, Mic Drop.

Parents had no idea

Listening to teens tell me things that, in many cases, their parents had no idea about, has been an emotional ride, to say the least.

The youngest participants needed their parent's consent.

So that led to some interesting conversations with parents and plenty of "a-ha" moments for them.

Still, every teen in Mic Drop is telling a story they want to share with other teens, in their own words — which at times includes some colourful language.

In the podcast we use first names only — or a pseudonym — so teens can be open and honest without worrying that these very personal stories about their adolescence will follow them forever online.
Aliyah, 13, is excited to be in the first episode of Mic Drop, talking about mood swings. 'I didn't mean to scream...it's my hormones!' (Shari Okeke/CBC)

'Can I give you a hug?'

And do they ever open up.

In the first two interviews I did, both teens described feeling so stressed that they would cry alone in their rooms.

At the end of one of those interviews, the teen looked at me and he asked, "Can I give you a hug?"

My heart stopped.

Little did I know, that would happen again and again.

Another teen — who had sent Mic Drop several emoji-filled emails — talked at length about what makes him who he is today and why he's so focused on success and education.
Sarah, 17, shares her experience as a teen immigrant on Mic Drop. She says despite facing discrimination she's proud, confident and loves living in Montreal. (Shari Okeke/CBC)

Tough times

That 13-year-old also told me about "tough times" — including the night he witnessed his mother being attacked.

"My mom's boyfriend at the time [was] actually choking her," he said.

Again, I was caught totally off guard. So was his mom.

Apparently, it's not something he talks about, but she decided to allow him to share that story in the podcast.

When I first pitched the Mic Drop idea to CBC Montreal, I was convinced we should create a space that empowers teens to have their say, but I had no idea how much they needed it.

Next thing I knew, we were collaborating with CBC Original Podcasts in Toronto — and the Mic Drop team was born.

We reached out to our contacts and posted a call-out form online, looking for teens eager to participate in a new podcast that passes them the mic.

Mic Drop creator Shari Okeke chats with Tristan for the "Comfort Zone" episode of the Mic Drop podcast. Shari will be live in the Radio Noon studio this Friday and wants to hear from teens of all ages. (Carrie Haber/CBC)

Teens eager to talk

The floodgates opened — 150 teens got in touch and I wish every single one of them could be in the podcast.

They each have a story worth sharing.

We consider them all part of the Mic Drop family and hope they'll be tuning in.

They'll hear the teens we were fortunate enough to meet in person, opening up about what's really been going on with them.

All of the teens I've met have made me laugh — and many have moved me to tears.

They hope their stories will make other teens feel less alone, so they're counting on people listening.

Really listening.

These are a few voices you'll hear over the next few weeks. Listen here, download here or subscribe wherever you get your podcasts:

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About the Author

Shari Okeke

Shari Okeke is writer/broadcaster for Daybreak on CBC Radio, and creator of Mic Drop, a CBC original podcast. She was born and raised in Montreal.