It would be a bit unrealistic to expect every young teenager to be as politically engaged as Luke Radel. At the tender age of 14, he's been ahead of the curve for quite some time.
But in a political environment where it's getting tough to breathe, Luke is a breath of fresh air. In a world where incivility is spreading like cancer on both sides of the aisle, young Luke has blazed a trail of reason and compromise sorely lacking among people three or four times his age.
We need more Luke Radels.
While most kids his age are playing video games, scrolling social media and texting their buddies, he's running his own YouTube channel and podcast focusing on politics, local issues and the upcoming November election. Since beginning the podcast he calls "Elected News" in June 2017, he has made about 50 videos, which collectively have about 7,000 views — 2,000 in the last two months. There are roughly 71 subscribers, which Luke recognizes as an important marker.
The Notre Dame Junior-Senior High School freshman was bitten by the political bug as the 2016 presidential race unfolded. His podcasts display remarkable intuitiveness and insight for a kid so young; he's creative and articulate without being condescending. Then again, while that might surprise some it's probably not so surprising coming from a kid who knew all the presidents of the United States before he started pre-school.
“Luke is a pretty remarkable young man,” says his mom, Mary Radel. “He’s always been interested in the news and politics, so it really didn’t surprise us that he would start something like this, a news sort of a channel. ... He really tries to get information from all sides. I don’t think that he has a real political party or anything that he ascribes to, but he really does try to get information from all sides and then make a decision from that.”
Between his podcast and his YouTube channel, Luke has interviewed some politicians and also is creating a six-part miniseries exploring the downtown hospital issue in Utica. His motive is pretty simple: He thinks it’s important to bring this information to the attention of his peers and adults because he believes everyone needs to be more aware of what’s going on in the world.
While Luke commits considerable time to his political venture, he's not one-dimensional. He participates in three sports, the drama club and volunteers with the 21 Club, an organization that raises awareness for people with Down syndrome.
What's especially cool about the podcasts is that Luke has purposed and designed them to be entertaining and easy to understand in an effort to draw more kids his age into politics — sort of like a video "Weekly Reader," now "Scholastic News." That's important because as information resources for young people evolve to digital/electronics, staying informed is critical. Democracy depends on participation in government.
And you can't participate if you don't know what's going on.
Check out Luke's work
• Visit www.youtube.com/channel/UCT2tJQM0mpzqKBStO4uux7Q to watch Luke Radel’s YouTube channel Elected News.
• Season three of Elected News begins in October, and will feature five new episodes.
• Luke’s 2018 election coverage will continue on his podcast, which has a new episode every 10 days.
• On Election Day, there will be special live coverage with many special guests, Luke said.