About this story

Author: Danielle Waugh

Date: November 2010

People: Walt Shepperd

Fun facts: Shepperd must have deep pockets. Asked what he carries in them, he gave a long list: "I have a very small Swiss army knife for a screwdriver and scissors, keys, 2 reporters' notebooks, an envelope with brochures about the Media Unit, and a pocket calendar."

For almost 40 years now, Walt Shepperd has helped the youth of the South Side — and the entire city — find a creative voice.

Data points: According to Census numbers over the decades, the city hit its peak population in 1930, when 209,326 people were counted. Since then, it's been a slide: 170,105 in 1980; 163,860 in 1990; 146,435 in 2000; and an estimated 138,560 in 2009.

Media Unit helps youth tell important, relevant stories

By: Danielle Waugh

For more than 35 years, Walt Shepperd’s work has been published and performed throughout the Syracuse area.

He was the first full-time reporter for the Syracuse New Times and covered Central New York politics. In 1973, he added another job title to his resume: executive director of the Media Unit, a television production and theater group for youth. The Media Unit performs shows about teen issues such as pregnancy, drug abuse, gang life, and gambling.

Shepperd founded the Media Unit on the South Side. Though the operation has since moved from the Southwest Community Center to a new location downtown, Shepperd says he keeps close ties with the South Side community and performs in venues like Kirk Park regularly.


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