John Ornelas did something completely unique. He created a show called TalkBack4Teens. John wanted to give teens a chance to talk about what is important to them. He didn’t want teens to have fear about talking about issues that need to be addressed. As the Executive Producer and Creator of TalkBack4Teens, John prefers the teens to contribute the most, such as having them host, choosing the topics, manage social media, and the website. The demographic the show looks for are individuals age 13 to 22
John wanted to create this show because a girl at his son’s school committed suicide because her boyfriend broke up with her.
“Too many things like this happen and I want to help,” said Ornelas. “I want these teens to be willing to face their fears on camera,” he added.
John chooses his interns and staff by contacting different schools around the Rochester area for a host. He spends a half day at the school and talks about what Talk4Teens can provide for a teenager.
Talk4Teens is in its 6th year running and no topics have been repeated. I had the chance to talk to the first host on Talk4Teens, Tianna Mannon and how being a part of this television show affected her in many ways.
“I was first a guest on the show. I was working as a Youth Leader at Safe Sex Inc. and was featured on the show to discuss teen pregnancy. I’ve wanted to be a journalist for a very long time so when John approached me about hosting, I figured I could also revamp the website and make it into a news source.”
In today’s world social media plays a major role, especially when it comes to the millennial generation. While Tianna made the website into a news source, I asked about all the other social media having an effect on teens and their issues.
“It allowed the staff to immediately connect with people. Even if people don’t watch the show they can see it online and they can also engage in meaningful discussion with the staff there,” said Mannon. “Talkback4Teens is really floating under the radar and it surprises me that nobody takes it more seriously. The teens discuss real issues that adults often legislate around. Yet they never listen to these voices- despite them being right there. I think any adult wondering where teens stand today should watch the show” she added.
John says apathy is the problem and Talk4Teens helps teens change the outlooks on certain issues and prepares them for the future. Talk4Teens prepared Tianna for her future; she is now relaunching an online black magazine, Open Mic.”
“Learning the skills to build an audience, write and edit, manage other people, find my own stories and connect with new readers really originated from my work there.”
TalkBack4Teens is aired Tuesdays and Saturdays at 7PM. If you are interested in hosting or becoming a part of the staff you can contact John at talkback4teens.com or through their production staff email Participate@TALKBACK4Teens.com
By: Carly Lonczak