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Student podcast shares childhood memories from St. Petersburg's Gas Plant neighborhood

Two middle schools students in chairs interviewing a woman sitting in a chair. One student is asking questions and another is wearing headphones and holding a microphone.
Gabrielle Dibert-Trankel
Student Journalist
Students from the John Hopkins Middle School interview St. Petersburg resident Gwendolyn Reese about her childhood living in the city's Gas Plant neighborhood. It is part of a three-episode podcast produced as part of the Gas Plant Reporting Project.

Students from John Hopkins Middle School in St. Petersburg recently produced a podcast that looked at the historic Gas Plant neighborhood, a historically Black community razed in the 1980s. The students focused on the childhoods of the residents.

The Gas Plant Reporting Project focuses on the redevelopment of a historically Black neighborhood in St. Petersburg know as The Gas Plant area.

The 500-plus homes were razed in the 1980s for redevelopment on land that would become Tropicana Field, the current home for the Major League Baseball team now known as the Tampa Bay Rays.

Today, the space is being reimagined as a $1.3 billion mixed-used project that includes retails shops, residential units and civic outlets.

The project is comprised of news stories, a podcast series, and a documentary produced by student journalists from the Journeys in Journalism program at Melrose Elementary, John Hopkins Middle, and Lakewood High schools.

Support for the project is made possible by a 2023 Broadcasting Hope Media Grant from Florida Humanities and the sponsorship of WUSF reporter Gabriella Paul by Report for America.

Episode One:

Love for reading nurtured while growing up in Gas Plant neighborhood
Gwendolyn Reese speaks about how time reading while at 16th Street Elementary developed her lifelong love for reading.
Woman standing in bookstore, smiling at camera

Episode Two:

Growing up in Gas Plant neighborhood meant being surrounded by family
Carlos Lovett, the youngest of 11 children, fondly remembers swimming in a neighborhood creek and loving when the circus would come to town.
Man with glasses sitting outside and smiling

Episode Three:

Grandfather's business in Gas Plant neighborhood shaped young man's life
William Gravely did not live in the Gas Plant neighborhood, but he spent a lot of time there, playing and working in his grandfather's dry cleaning store.
Man standing inside radio studio and smiling at camera

This podcast is a production of the John Hopkins Middle School Center for Journalism and Multimedia, a part of the Pinellas County Journeys in Journalism Magnet Program.

The podcast team that reported and produced it include: Adam Lollis, Mateo Miranda, Lillian Verwey, Jayden Richardson, Colleen Perry, Harleigh Kraft and Gabrielle Dibert-Trankel. The introductions to the podcast episodes were recorded by Alondra Moreno.

Support came from John Hopkins teachers Joyce Pink and journalism project coordinator Kenya Woodard; the Poynter Institute; news director Mary Shedden and WUSF reporter Gabriella Paul. Paul is also a Report for America corps member.