The Pass It On! Scholars Award is given each fall to a high school senior, university, or college student. Our PIO! Scholars reviewers select the candidate most likely, throughout their lifetime, to continue celebrating the positive power of music in the lives of children and to recognize the importance of networking and sharing knowledge, music, ideas, and songs.
Sagan Thacker, author of this year's winning essay, recently graduated with a bachelor's in history from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and is host and producer of Radio Active Kids, a music radio show for children.
When I began producing my kids’ music radio show, Radio Active Kids, four years ago, I had no idea quite what I was getting into. I knew that kids’ music had made a positive impact on my life and that I wanted to share that positivity with others. Once I started interacting with artists and fans in the kindie world, I saw how much deeper and essential the community I had entered really is, and I quickly realized what I could do with the platform I had been given.
On Radio Active Kids today, I make it my mission to publicize as many intelligent, thoughtful kids’ musicians as possible and to foster as much of a global kindie community as I can. I have sought out and played active, independent kids’ musicians from at least twenty-seven countries (and counting!), using my show to connect my listeners with an unmatched variety of sounds, textures, and cultures. I believe that by doing this, I can make the world of all my listeners—kids and adults alike—a little bigger in size and scope.
In addition, the interactions that I have had with my listeners affirm that my hard work does make a positive impact on their lives. It is a truly wonderful feeling when, for example, I receive a message from a dad requesting a song for his husband and their daughter by a family band of Sri Lankan immigrants to Australia (“Jamerah and her Dads” by the Cuddly Koalas). This is exactly the kind of familial, cross-cultural, and inclusive connection that I want to create, and it delights me that I can do it through kids’ music and support the community of which I so enjoy being a part.
As I move into the next phase of my life—attending graduate school to become a librarian—I see no end in sight for my radio show or the work I put into it. I won’t stop. I can’t stop—the community that I have upheld and the difference I have made to listeners and artists are far too important to me and the music to abandon them now. I am sure that I and the show will continue to change and evolve with time. Furthermore, as someone who is recently out as nonbinary, I recognize the vital importance of queer representation in the kids’ music world, and I am proudly out to all my listeners and friends.
In short, I have found the way that I can be imaginative and mutually beneficial in today’s world. Through sharing a multitude of quality kids’ music—and by simply being there and encouraging creative relationships worldwide—I can make the world brighter and wider for kids and anyone else who happens to tune in and expand their mind. That is something of which I can truly be proud, and I look forward to continuing to share the world of kids’ music with the rest of the world as long as I possibly can.
Many thanks to the members of the PIO! Scholars selection committee: Alice Burba, Susan Picking, Katherine Dines, Susan Salidor, and Jane Arsham.
And a big congratulations to our three runners-up: Alexandra Alberta, Madison Hughes, and Zachary Shand!