Illustration by Ard Su

Reno, Nevada | May 2021

What does it mean to be an American?

We are finding, coaching and training public media’s next generation. This #npnextgenradio project is created in Reno, Nevada, where five talented reporters are participating in a week-long state-of-the-art training program.

In this project we are speaking to people from various walks of life—whether they are Indigenous, native born, a naturalized citizen, a refugee or an immigrant without legal status—to ask what it means to be an American.

‘I always knew that I was Mexicano because of the music’

One Latinx’s Journey to Finding His Identity and Culture

Andrew Mendez

Growing up, Ricardo Salazar would unapologetically blast traditional Mexican music from the back of his parents’ car. For Salazar, music became the way he was able to express himself and connect to his identity as an American and Mexican.

Burmese Anthropologist Prevails Through Asian Hate and Military Coup in Native Myanmar

Andrew Mendez

At age 13, Nandar Yukyi immigrated to the United States with her family to escape conflict and the lack of opportunities in Myanmar. She’s faced discrimination toward Asian Americans in the U.S., but still prevails with hope for compassion and humanity.

Brothers Bring Indigenous Stories to the Stage

Issac Hoops

At an early age, brothers Dwight and Everett George saw a clear line of wealth disparity between their Indigenous reservation in Winnemucca, Nevada, and the rich mining town they were raised in. This, along with health issues at a young age, made it so the brothers spent much of their time at home. As they grew up, they wanted to make a change to this stigma.

Working Hard is America’s Heritage

Andrew Mendez

Gloria Smith grew up in a large working class family in a small town in northern Nevada, where she played with chickens and rabbits. She and her husband did not come from much but still have what she feels is a prosperous life. Now 81 years old, Smith reflects on how America used to be a nation of compassion and how it could be once again.

Reclaiming Indigenous Identity by Connecting to the Land

Andrew Mendez

Jolie Varela is a hiker, water protector, and land defender based out of Payahuunadü, the place of flowing water, also known as Owens Valley, California. She started hiking as an act of cultural reclamation and for her self-care and healing.


The Next Generation Radio Project is a week-long digital journalism training project designed to give competitively selected participants, who are interested in radio and journalism, the skills and opportunity to report and produce their own multimedia story. Those chosen for the project are paired with a professional journalist who serves as their mentor.

This edition of the #NPRNextGenRadio project was produced in collaboration with University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School of Journalism in May 2021.

  • Managing Editor – Traci Tong, Editor, Public Media Journalists Association
  • Digital Editors – Amara Aguilar, University of Southern California; and Kylene Yumul, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Audio Tech – Selena Seay-Reynolds, Freelancer Audio Engineer, Princeton, New Jersey; and Perla Gomez, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Illustrators – Lauren Ibanez, Houston; Ard Su, Baltimore; and Emily Whang, Los Angeles
  • Visuals – Erica Lee, Freelance Visual Journalist, Jersey City, New Jersey; Michelle Baker, Media Producer, U.S. Senate; and Perla Gomez, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Web Developer – Robert Boos, Metropolitan State, Minneapolis

Our journalist/mentors for this project were:

  • Nico Colombant, University of Nevada, Reno
  • Anh Gray, Public Health Editor, KUNR Public Radio
  • Cintia Lopez, Producer, CapRadio
  • Itxy Quintanilla, Associate Producer, KPCC
  • Paolo Zialcita, General Assignment Reporter, Colorado Public Radio

NPR’s Next Generation Radio program is directed by its founder, Doug Mitchell.