Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries

By Radio Diaries & Radiotopia

First-person diaries, sound portraits, and hidden chapters of history from Peabody Award-winning producer Joe Richman and the Radio Diaries team. From teenagers to octogenarians, prisoners to prison guards, bra saleswomen to lighthouse keepers. The extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Radio Diaries is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm

Episodes

The Almost Astronaut (Revisited)

When it comes to the space race, we all know names like Neil Armstrong and Yuri Gagarin. But in most moments in history, there are a few names that fall through the cracks. One of those names was Ed Dwight.When Ed was selected to train to become an astronaut, many thought he would become the first Black man to go to space — but Ed faced some unexpected hurdles. Today on the show, we bring you that story — and a surprising update on Ed's 63-year-wait to go to space. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram @radiodiaries for more on our stories. You can also visit us at radiodiaries.org. 
20/06/2425m 23s

The End of Smallpox

Humanity isn't great at eradicating diseases. But there is one disease that humanity has managed to eradicate: smallpox.Smallpox was around for more than 3,000 years and killed at least 300 million people in the 20th century. Then, by 1980, it was gone.Rahima Banu was the last person in the world to have the deadliest form of smallpox. In 1975, Banu was a toddler growing up in a remote village in Bangladesh when she developed the telltale bumpy rash. Soon, public health workers from around the world showed up at her home to try to keep the virus from spreading. This is her story.
07/06/2421m 24s

Meet Miss Subways

Most beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl: Miss Subways. Each month starting in May 1941, a young woman was elected “Miss Subways,” and her face gazed down on transit riders as they rode through the city. Her photo was accompanied by a short bio describing her hopes, dreams and aspirations. The public got to choose the winners – so Miss Subway represented the perfect New York miss. Miss Subways was one of the first integrated beauty pageants in America. An African-American Miss Subways was selected in 1948 – more than thirty years before there was a Black Miss America. By the 1950s, there were Miss Subways who were Black, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic – the faces of New York’s female commuters. This episode originally aired on NPR in 2012.Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram @radiodiaries. Learn more at our website, radiodiaries.org.
16/05/2410m 57s

The Gospel Ranger

This year marks 90 years since Claude Ely wrote "Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down." The song was written as Ely was supposed to be on his death bed. Instead, Ely, known as the "Gospel Ranger," went on to inspire the birth of rock & roll. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram @radiodiaries. Learn more about our stories on radiodiaries.org. 
02/05/2416m 38s

Mandela's Election: 30 Years Later

This month marks 30 years since Nelson Mandela became South Africa's first democratically elected president. However, the story of Mandela's rise to the presidency isn't all that simple. The four years between Mandela’s release from prison and his election to the presidency were some of the most violent in South Africa's history. That's the story you'll hear this week, as we revisit one of our favorite releases: Mandela: An Audio History.Listen to the full Mandela: An Audio History series at mandelahistory.org. Find all stories from Radio Diaries at radiodiaries.org.Follow us on X (formerly Twitter) and Instagram @radiodiaries. 
18/04/2417m 40s

Working, Then and Now

50 years ago, radio broadcaster Studs Terkel published a book called WORKING: People Talk About What They Do All Day, and How They Feel About What They Do. Terkel went around the country with a tape recorder and had conversations with ordinary Americans about their jobs and their reflections on them. The book ended up being an unexpected bestseller. For a long time, the recordings of these interviews went unheard, but back in 2015, we and Jane Saks at Project& were given access to the original raw interviews. We also tracked down some of the people Terkel had interviewed to catch up on their lives, and made a series called "Working, Then and Now." 50 years later, it's interesting how much some jobs have changed, and others have disappeared entirely. Today on the podcast, we revisit that series in an hour-long special.
04/04/2457m 38s

My Iron Lung (Revisited)

Paul Alexander, one of two people in the U.S. still relying on an iron lung to survive, died on March 11, 2024 at the age of 78. Paul contracted polio in 1952 at six years old, and has had to rely on an iron lung — a big metal ventilator that encases the body from the neck to toes — since then. We spoke to Paul a few years ago about his life and the lessons he’s learned from living under uncommon circumstances. So, this week on the podcast, we’re sharing some of that conversation, as well as revisiting the story of the now the only person in the U.S. still relying on an iron lung to survive: Martha Lillard. *** This story has support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and listeners like you. Music from Blue Dot Sessions, Epidemic Sounds and the song “Iron Lung” by Taylor Phelan and the Canes. Follow us on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Facebook @radiodiaries, and visit us at radiodiaries.org.
21/03/2416m 58s

My So-Called Lungs (Revisited)

We’re revisiting one of our favorite stories from years ago — with a new twist. Laura Rothenberg spent most of her life knowing she would die young. She had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs. She documented her life in an audio diary, showing her attempt to live the normal life of a nineteen year old college student. Laura died in 2003 — but her audio diary wasn’t all she left behind. You can find Laura Rothenberg’s book of poetry, When Poetry Visits, at https://www.codhill.com/product/when-poetry-visits/#:\~:text=The%20poems%20in%20this%20collection,people%20do%20by%20old%20age. You can also find Laura’s memoir, Breathing for a Living, at Barnes & Noble and Amazon. Thanks to Taylor Schilling for featuring in this episode. Special thanks to Bryan Doerries and Mary Rothenberg.
07/03/2430m 22s

The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records

In 1921, a man named Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record company in the United States. He called it Black Swan Records. In an era when few Black musicians were recorded, the company was revolutionary. It launched the careers of Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson, William Grant Still, and Alberta Hunter, artists who transformed American music. But Black Swan’s success would be short-lived. Just a couple years after Pace founded the company, larger, wealthier, white competitors started to take an interest in the artists whose careers Pace had propelled. Then, Pace’s own life took a mysterious turn. This episode was originally published in 2021.
15/02/2423m 51s

Guest Spotlight: Parakeet Panic

This week, we’re featuring an episode of a podcast we’re big fans of: The Last Archive! The Last Archive tells little known histories and how they affect our modern lives. Today’s story, “Parakeet Panic,” explores when invasive parakeets began to spread in New York City in the 1970s — and the government decided that the solution was to kill them all. If you liked this episode, you can listen to more of The Last Archive at thelastarchive.com, or wherever you get your podcasts. Follow us @radiodiaries on X (formerly Twitter), Instagram and Facebook for more of our recommendations and stories, or visit us at radiodiaries.org.
01/02/2442m 41s

The Drum Also Waltzes

At the age of 16, he played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He went on to make landmark recordings with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. He’s considered one of the most important drummers in history — and he would’ve turned 100 years old this week. Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes is a new film about the musician by award-winning filmmakers Sam Pollard and (our very own!) Ben Shapiro. Today on the podcast, we sat down with them to discuss the life and music of Max Roach, and the decades of work that went into creating the film. You can watch Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes on PBS, Amazon Prime and iTunes: https://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/max-roach-the-drum-also-waltzes-film/26469/. If you’re enjoying Radio Diaries, tell a friend! Or share on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook @RadioDiaries.
10/01/2421m 6s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Live at WNYC

We bring you a lot of stories each year, but we don’t often get to share the work behind them. We recently held an event at WNYC’s The Greene Space in New York City, where our subjects and producers reflected on the challenges, and joys, of telling these untold stories. For the last podcast of the year, we’re bringing you that live show: a behind the scenes look at The Unmarked Graveyard. We want to bring you as many stories next year as we did this year — and we can’t do that without your help! Please consider making a contribution to support our work by going to radiodiaries.org.
19/12/231h 1m

The Man on the President's Limo

Today marks 60 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There are many photos from that day in 1963, but one image in particular caught people’s attention, spreading in newspapers across the country: a photo of a Secret Service agent jumping onto the back of the presidential limousine during the shooting. Today on the podcast, the story of the man in that photo: Clint Hill. Note: This episode contains a description of violence. Tell a friend or share your thoughts about this story on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook @RadioDiaries. Radiotopia’s Fall Fundraiser is here! Donate today to support independent creators like us. Thank you! https://on.prx.org/3Si7UXr
22/11/2312m 7s

The Unmarked Graveyard: LaMont Dottin

Back in 1995, LaMont Dottin was 21 years old and a freshman at Queens College when, one evening, he didn’t come home. His mother went to the local police precinct to try to report him missing, and his name was added to a list of thousands of cases that the NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad was supposed to be investigating. Then his case fell through the cracks. This is the final episode of The Unmarked Graveyard: Stories from Hart Island. Listen to all 8 stories in our podcast feed, tell a friend and share your thoughts with us on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook. @RadioDiaries Radiotopia’s fall fundraiser is here! Donate today to support independent creators like us. Thank you! https://on.prx.org/3Si7UXr
21/11/2315m 16s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Hisako Hasegawa

The Belvedere Hotel is in the heart of New York City’s theater district. Many of its guests come to see the sights, take in a show. But there are a few dozen people who call the Belvedere home. Decades ago, they came to New York and rented rooms there. As the hotel changed hands over the years, they never left. One of them was Hisako Hasegawa. This is episode seven of our series The Unmarked Graveyard, next week will be our final episode. You can listen to the entire series in the podcast feed. Radiotopia’s fall fundraiser is here! Donate today to support independent creators like us. Thank you! https://on.prx.org/3Si7UXr
09/11/2312m 45s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Cesar Irizarry

Angel Irizarry spent years working as a detective, and in 2021 he set out on a personal investigation to track down an uncle who’d been estranged from his family for decades. But early in his search he made a disappointing discovery: his uncle Cesar had died. So Angel embarked on a new quest, to learn what had become of Cesar during his long absence. This is episode six of our series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. This story was reported in collaboration with The City’s Missing Them project.
02/11/2315m 51s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Dawn Powell

Dawn Powell wrote novels about people like herself: outsiders who’d come to New York City in the early twentieth century to make a name for themselves. For a few years, those novels put her at the center of the city’s literary scene. Ernest Hemingway even called her his favorite living writer. When she died of colon cancer in 1965, Powell donated her body to science. But then her books disappeared from shelves, and, unbeknownst to her family, her body went missing too. This is episode five of The Unmarked Graveyard, a series untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. To hear more stories from Hart Island, subscribe to the Radio Diaries feed.
26/10/2316m 54s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Documenting an Invisible Island

For more than a century, it was almost impossible to find out much about people buried on Hart Island. But in 2008, that all changed — thanks in large part to a woman named Melinda Hunt. Melinda is a visual artist who has spent more than 30 years documenting America’s largest public cemetery, and advocating for families with loved ones buried there. She is the founder of The Hart Island Project, a searchable database of more than 75,000 burial records. This week, producer Alissa Escarce sits down with Melinda to discuss the history of Hart Island and how it’s changed over the last few decades. This is episode four of our series The Unmarked Graveyard. New episodes published each week.
19/10/2320m 52s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Angel Garcia

When Annette Vega was in elementary school, she found out the man she called “dad” wasn’t her biological father. But all she knew was that her mom had had a teenage romance with a guy named Angel Garcia. Annette has searched for Angel for more than 30 years, a search that is finally coming to the end. This is episode three in our series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. New episodes drop every Thursday.
12/10/2320m 38s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Noah Creshevsky

When Noah Creshevsky learned he was dying of bladder cancer two years ago, he decided to decline medical treatment. Soon, he and his husband David were faced with another decision: what would become of his body after he died? This is episode two in our new series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. Each week, we’re bringing you stories of how people ended up on Hart Island, the lives they lived and the people they left behind.
05/10/2313m 37s

The Unmarked Graveyard: Neil Harris Jr.

A few years ago, a young man who called himself Stephen became a fixture in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Locals started noticing him sitting on the same park bench day after day. He said little and asked for nothing. When Stephen’s body was found in 2017, the police were unable to identify him, and he was buried on Hart Island. Then, one day, a woman who knew him from the park stumbled upon his true identity, and his backstory came to light. This is the first episode in our new series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. Each week, we’re bringing you stories of how people ended up on Hart Island, the lives they lived and the people they left behind.
28/09/2326m 1s

TRAILER: The Unmarked Graveyard

On September 28th, we’re launching a new series: The Unmarked Graveyard: Stories from Hart Island. Hart Island is America’s largest public cemetery—sometimes known as a “potter’s field.” The island has no headstones or plaques, just numbered markers. More than a million people are buried on Hart Island and many are shrouded in anonymity. Explanations for how they ended up there can be hard to find. Over the next seven weeks, we’ll untangle mysteries about the lives they lived and the people they left behind.
21/09/234m 56s

The Longest Game

In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league baseball game of little importance. But over the course of 33 innings – 8 hours and 25 minutes – the game made history. It was the longest professional baseball game ever played. This story was produced in collaboration with ESPN's 30 for 30.
25/08/2344m 11s

The Girls of the Leesburg Stockade

On July 19, 1963, at least 15 Black girls were arrested while marching to protest segregation in Americus, Georgia. After spending a night in jail, they were transferred to the one-room Leesburg Stockade and imprisoned for the next 45 days. Only twenty miles away, the girls’ parents had no knowledge of their location. A month into their confinement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) heard rumors of the girls’ detention and sent photographer Danny Lyon, who took pictures of them through barred windows. Within days, those photographs appeared in publications around the country. As the girls’ ordeal gained national attention, they were released without charges. This is the story of the ‘Stolen Girls.’ ***** To see more photos by Danny Lyon, visit bleakbeauty.com and http://instagram.com/dannylyonphotos2.
19/07/2316m 12s

Busman's Holiday

One day in 1947, NYC bus driver William Cimillo showed up to his daily bus route, but instead of turning right, he turned left. Over the next week, he traveled 1,300 miles in his municipal bus, ending up in Hollywood, Florida. The bus had broken down, he’d run out of money, and had no way of getting home. Plus, he was now the most wanted bus driver in the country. This story originally aired on This American Life in 2014. Go to www.radiodiaries.org to find more stories and sign up for our monthly newsletter.
15/06/2320m 11s

Guest Spotlight: Buffalo Extreme

This week we’re featuring a story from NPR’s Embedded podcast. It’s the first episode in a new series called Buffalo Extreme, which follows a cheer team from Buffalo, New York, during the year after a racist mass shooting in their neighborhood. On May 14, 2022, the world changed for residents of Buffalo when a white man approached the Jefferson Street Tops supermarket and started shooting. He murdered ten and injured three people, almost all Black. That day, teenagers and children from a Black cheer team called BASE were at their gym around the corner. “Buffalo Extreme” is their story: a 3-part series that hands the mic to the girls, their moms, and their coaches as they navigate the complicated path to recovery.
12/05/2343m 41s

The Gospel Ranger

This is the story of a song, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down.” It was written by a 12-year-old boy on what was supposed to be his deathbed. But the boy didn’t die. Instead, he went on to become a Pentecostal preacher, and later helped inspire the birth of Rock & Roll. The boy’s name was Brother Claude Ely, and he was known as The Gospel Ranger.
25/04/2317m 23s

The Longest Game

In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league baseball game of little importance. But over the course of 33 innings – 8 hours and 25 minutes – the game made history. It was the longest professional baseball game ever played. This is an excerpt of a story in collaboration with ESPN's 30 for 30. If you liked this episode, vote for us in the Webby Awards! The Webby’s celebrate the best of the internet, andThe Longest Game has been nominated for Best Documentary. You can vote at https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2023/podcasts/individual-episodes/documentary.
17/04/2319m 41s

Meet Miss Subways

Beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl. Each month starting in 1941, a young woman was elected “Miss Subways,” and her face gazed down on transit riders as they rode through the city. Her photo was accompanied by a short bio describing her hopes, dreams and aspirations. The public got to choose the winners – so Miss Subway represented the perfect New York miss. She was also a barometer of changing times. Miss Subways was one of the first integrated beauty pageants in America. An African-American Miss Subways was selected in 1948 – more than thirty years before there was a black Miss America. By the 1950s, there were Miss Subways who were black, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic – the faces of New York’s female commuters. In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, meet the Miss Subways. This episode originally aired on NPR in 2012.
30/03/2310m 56s

The Ski Troops of WWII

This week we’re bringing you a story about the 10th Mountain Division, a World War II military experiment to train skiers and climbers to fight in the mountains. The men of the 10th led a series of daring assaults against the German army in the mountains of Italy. Though the division fought in WWII for only four months, it had one of the highest casualty rates of the war. After they returned home, many of the soldiers helped to create the modern ski industry. This story originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2007.
16/03/2324m 46s

Sofia's Choice: A Ukrainian Diary, One Year Later

Sofia Bretl has lived in New York City for the last decade. But she was born and raised in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, about 25 miles from the Russian border. The city has received some of the worst shelling so far in the war. That’s where her mother lived when war broke out. As conditions in Kharkiv worsened, they faced a difficult choice. Music in today’s episode includes the Ukrainian band Dakha Brakha — playing at San Francisco Jazz Center on March 14th. Proceeds and donations go to organizations supporting Ukraine. Other music from Blue Dot Sessions and Dakh Daughters.
06/03/2312m 54s

Living with Dying

On Valentine’s Day 2020, Peter Fodera’s heart broke. It stopped working. He collapsed in the middle of teaching a dance class. Someone performed CPR, someone called an ambulance. EMT’s showed up and he lay motionless. Many people in the class thought they had just witnessed the death of their favorite teacher. But later at the hospital, Peter’s heart started beating again. On the anniversary of Peter’s brush with death, he sat down with his daughter Juliana who has Noonan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. While Peter’s experience may seem miraculous to some of us, it doesn’t to Juliana. By her count, she’s died 21 times. **** Music this week from Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, Man Man, and Gotan Project.
13/02/2314m 15s

The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records

In 1921, a man named Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record company in the United States. He called it Black Swan Records. In an era when few Black musicians were recorded, the company was revolutionary. It launched the careers of Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson, William Grant Still, Alberta Hunter, and other influential artists who transformed American music. But Black Swan’s success would be short-lived. Just a couple years after Pace founded the company, larger, wealthier, white competitors started to take an interest in the artists whose careers Pace had propelled. Then, Pace’s own life took a mysterious turn. This episode originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2021.
03/02/2323m 49s

The Real Refugees of Casablanca

It’s been 80 years since the release of the Hollywood classic, Casablanca. When the film opened in 1943—just a year after the U.S. joined World War II—audiences were thrilled by its love story. Humphrey Bogart stars as the cynical owner of Rick’s Café, a nightclub in Morocco. Ingrid Bergman plays his old flame Ilsa, who’s married to a dashing Resistance leader hunted by the Nazis. Many of the characters at Rick’s Café are European refugees trying to make their way to America. What most viewers didn’t know is that those characters were played by actors who themselves had recently fled the Nazis. This casting choice lent the film an authenticity that helped deliver its message: that a war far from our borders was a war worth waging.
23/01/2312m 50s

The History Of Now

One of the questions we often ask ourselves is: How can we produce stories about history that can air alongside the news of today? In 2022, answering that question was easy. In this year-end episode, we’re taking a look back at some of our favorite stories from the past year.
16/12/2231m 10s

A Guitar, A Cello and the Day that Changed Music

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men, an ocean apart, sat before a microphone and began to play. One, Pablo Casals, was a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain. The other, Robert Johnson, played guitar and was a regular in the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta. These recordings would change music history. This episode originally aired on NPR in 2011.
23/11/2217m 13s

Banging on the Door: The Election of 1872

Voting rights was just as hot an issue in 1872 as it is today. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women went to cast a ballot in the election - and Anthony ended up arrested and tried. But another woman named Victoria Woodhull took things even further. That same year, she ran for president of the United States - the first woman in American history known to do so.
04/11/2213m 9s

The Square Deal

100 years ago, George F. Johnson ran the biggest shoe factory in the world. The Endicott-Johnson Corporation in upstate New York produced 52 million pairs of shoes a year. But Johnson wasn’t only known for his shoes. He had a unusual idea of how workers should be treated. Some people called it “Welfare Capitalism.” Johnson called it “The Square Deal.”
20/10/2217m 46s

The Massacre at Tlatelolco

In October 1968, Mexico City was preparing to host the Olympics - the first Latin American country to do so. It was an opportunity to showcase the new, modern Mexico. However, at the same time, student protests were erupting throughout the city. On October 2, just days before the Olympics were supposed to begin, the Mexican army fired on a peaceful student protest in the Tlatelolco neighborhood. The official announcement was that four students were dead, but eyewitnesses said they saw hundred of dead bodies being trucked away - and the death toll isn’t the only thing the government covered up. This story originally aired on NPR in 2008.
06/10/2225m 17s

Guest Spotlight: Ear Hustle

This week we’re featuring an episode from our fellow Radiotopia show, Ear Hustle. Ear Hustle is produced inside San Quentin State Prison, in California. The show tells stories about what life is really like in prison, and after you get out. This episode is the first in Ear Hustle’s new season. It’s a beautiful, funny, and surprising story about the ways being incarcerated can mess with your sense of smell, and touch, and just about everything else. Episode artwork is by Richard Phillips, from a collaboration with the San Quentin Arts Project.
23/09/2232m 4s

Working, Then And Now

In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country, tape recorder in hand, interviewing people about their jobs. The interviews were compiled into a 1974 book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” which became a bestseller. This week, we’re revisiting two of those conversations. The first is with Gary Bryner, an auto worker and union leader. The second is with Renault Robinson, a police officer. We spoke with both men four decades after their original interviews. These stories originally aired on NPR in 2016.
09/09/2215m 6s

The Longest Game

In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league game of little importance. But over the course of 33 innings – 8 hours and 25 minutes – the game made history. It was the longest professional baseball game ever played. This is an excerpt of a story in collaboration with ESPN's 30 for 30.
23/08/2219m 4s

Rumble Strip: Finn and the Bell

This week we’re bringing you a story from independent producer Erica Heilman, who makes the Rumble Strip podcast. The story is about a teenager named Finn Rooney who loved to fish and play baseball. It’s also about what happened in Finn’s community in Vermont after he took his life in January 2020. (A warning that this story discusses suicide) The story, “Finn and the Bell,” recently won a Peabody award. Special thanks to Finn’s mother, Tara Reese, and to the people of Hardwick, Vermont who spoke with Erica for the story. You can check out other episodes of Rumble Strip wherever you get your podcasts, or at https://rumblestripvermont.com/. *** If you or someone you know is in crisis and may be considering suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
14/07/2236m 28s

The Almost Astronaut

In the 1960s, the U.S. was in a tense space race with the Soviet Union - and was losing. The Soviets had sent the first satellite and the first man into space. So, President Kennedy pledged to do something no country had done: send a man to the moon. This mission excited many white Americans, but many Black Americans thought the space program wasted money that could’ve helped Black communities. So, the U.S. embarked on a plan that could beat the Soviets and appease Black Americans: tapping Air Force Captain Ed Dwight as the first Black astronaut candidate.
29/06/2221m 49s

The General Slocum

On June 15, 1904, a steamship called the General Slocum left the pier on East Third Street in New York City just after 9 AM. The boat was filled with more than 1,300 residents of the Lower East Side. Many of the passengers were recent German immigrants who were headed up the East River for a church outing, a boat cruise and picnic on Long Island. They would never make it. We interviewed the last survivor of the General Slocum, Adella Wotherspoon, when she was 100 years old. Today, we’re bringing you her story. This story originally aired on NPR in 2004.
03/06/2213m 42s

The End of Smallpox

Only one human disease has ever been completely eradicated: Smallpox. Smallpox was around for more than 3,000 years and killed at least 300 million people in the 20th century. Then, by 1980, it was gone. Rahima Banu was the last person in the world to have the deadliest form of smallpox. In 1975, Banu was a toddler growing up in a remote village in Bangladesh when she developed the telltale bumpy rash. Soon, public health workers from around the world showed up at her home to try to keep the virus from spreading. This is her story. *** This episode of Radio Diaries has support from GreenChef. Go to GreenChef.com/diaries130 and use code diaries130 to get $130 off, plus free shipping.
19/05/2222m 42s

The Story of Jane

Before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, abortion was illegal throughout most of the country. But that doesn't mean women didn't get them. In 1965, an underground network formed in Chicago to help pregnant women get abortions. At first, they connected women with doctors willing to break the law to perform the procedure. Eventually, they were trained and began performing abortions themselves. The group called itself “Jane.” Over the years, Jane performed more than 11,000 first and second trimester abortions. This story first aired in 2018.
05/05/2214m 42s

The Greatest Songwriter You've Never Heard Of

You probably don’t know her name, but you definitely know her songs. Rose Marie McCoy would’ve turned 100 years old today. On this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering the woman behind smash hits by Tina Turner, Elvis Presley, Diana Ross and many others.
19/04/2217m 34s

Identical Strangers

Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were both born in New York City and adopted as infants. When they were 35 years old, they met and found they were “identical strangers.” This story originally aired on NPR in 2007. *** Today’s episode is supported by Green Chef. Visit GreenChef.com/diaries130 and use code diaries130 to get $130 off, plus free shipping.
07/04/2218m 44s

Sofia's Choice: A Ukrainian Diary

Sofia Bretl has lived in New York City for the last decade. But she was born and raised in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, about 25 miles from the Russian border. The city has received some of the worst shelling so far in the war. That’s where her mother lives. As conditions in Kharkiv worsened, they faced a difficult choice. ** If you’d like to show your support during this crisis, one organization that is helping settle refugees is HIAS. Find them at hias.org.
30/03/2212m 21s

The Forgotten Story of Clinton Melton

This week, the Senate unanimously passed legislation that would make lynching a federal hate crime. It was a historic moment. Congress has tried and failed to pass antilynching legislation more than 200 times over the course of more than a century. The Emmett Till Antilynching Act is named for a 14-year-old boy whose murder 67 years ago shocked the nation. Till had traveled from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta to visit family when he was kidnapped, horribly beaten, and killed by white men after allegedly flirting with a white woman. His body was later found in the Tallahatchie river. Today, Emmett Till’s death is considered the spark that ignited the burgeoning Civil Rights Movement. But few people know about another brazen murder of a Black man that happened just three months later, in a neighboring town in the Delta. Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast, we tell the forgotten story of Clinton Melton. This episode first aired on NPR in 2020.
10/03/2216m 32s

Claudette Colvin: Making Trouble Then and Now

Nine months before Rosa Parks, a 15-year-old Claudette Colvin refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, AL. 66 years later, Colvin’s fighting to get her record wiped clean. This episode is part of the 2022 Radiotopia Fundraiser! We are a proud member of this amazing network of independent, artist-owned, listener-supported shows. This week, we are all releasing episodes on a theme “Making Trouble.” Please show your support for our network by donating and check out special donor awards from the podcasts you love. DONATE HERE and thank you!
24/02/2216m 57s

A Voicemail Valentine

Nowadays we’re very accustomed to recording and hearing the sound of our own voices. But in the 1930s many people were doing it for the first time. And a surprising trend began. People started sending their voices to each other, through the postal service. It was literally voice-mail. We combed through a large collection of early voicemail at the Phono Post Archive, and we discovered that many of these audio letters have the same subject matter: love. This story originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2018. You can see photographs of the voice-o-graphs on our website: https://www.radiodiaries.org/voicemail-valentine-2022/.
10/02/2214m 8s

Diary of a Saudi Girl: Then & Now

When we first met Majd Abdulghani, she was a teenager living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. She wanted to be a scientist, her family wanted to arrange her marriage. Majd recorded her life over two years, she was one of our most prolific documentarians. With her microphone, Majd brought us inside a society where the voices of women were rarely heard. Majd is 27 now. A lot has changed in her life. Today, we bring you a brand new conversation with Majd and her original story from 2016. **** Today’s episode has support from GreenChef. Get $130 off when you use code diaries130 at check out.
21/01/2238m 39s

A Museum of Sound

A journey back to the very beginning of recorded sound and the strange, random, beautiful things people captured more than a century ago. We recommend listening with headphones. On January 1st, 2022 all audio recorded before 1923 is entering the public domain because of a new law, the Music Modernization Act. Archivists around the country have been digitizing thousands of old records, tinfoil, and wax cylinders that few people have ever heard. We hear one of the first recordings ever made, dated 1853. We then visit with Thomas Edison and his phonograph invention, which etched sound into tinfoil. There are amateur home and field recordings, instructional tapes, and commercial music. And then there’s Lionel Mapleson, the grandfather of bootlegging, who spent years recording the Metropolitan Opera from every possible vantage point. Today’s episode is a collaboration with Sam Harnett and Chris Hoff of The World According to Sound. A live audio show and online listening series. Their next performance is January 6, grab your ticket today.
22/12/2133m 10s

A Real Life West Side Story

A new movie version of West Side Story is hitting theaters this week. The musical, which tells a story of romance and rivalry between white and Puerto Rican gangs in New York City, first opened on Broadway in 1957. The story of warring youth gangs turned out to be prophetic. Just a month before the musical opened, the city was stunned by the brutal murder of a teenager from Washington Heights named Michael Farmer. Today on the podcast, a real life West Side Story. This story originally aired on NPR in 2007. *** Support Radio Diaries as part of our year-end fundraiser! We’re an independent nonprofit organization, and your donation helps us tell great stories and supports our growing team of producers. All donations are tax deductible. Donate by December 31st: https://www.radiodiaries.org/donate/
08/12/2116m 24s

A Guitar, A Cello, and the Day that Changed Music

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men, an ocean apart, sat before a microphone and began to play. One was a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain. The other played guitar and was a regular in the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta. On that day 85 years ago, Pablo Casals and Robert Johnson both made recordings that would change music history. This episode originally aired on NPR in 2011.
18/11/2118m 10s

A Wrench in the Works

Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time. It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo. On September 18, 1980, a technician was working in a Titan ll missile silo in Damascus, Arkansa, when he dropped a wrench. The tool fell and pierced a hole in the side of the missile which happened to be carrying a nuclear warhead. This is a story of an accident that nearly caused the destruction of a giant portion of the Midwest. This story was produced in collaboration with This American Life. *** Radio Diaries is supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, and from listeners like you. If you enjoy this podcast, please consider making a donation to support our work! www.radiodiaries.org/donate. Thank you!
04/11/2140m 51s

My Iron Lung

In the first half of the 20th century, the disease known as poliomyelitis panicked Americans. Just like COVID today, polio stopped ordinary life in its tracks. Tens of thousands were paralyzed when the virus attacked their nervous systems. Many were left unable to walk. In the worst cases, people’s breathing muscles stopped working, and they were placed in an iron lung, a large machine that fit their entire bodies from the neck down. Vaccines brought an end to the epidemic in the 1950s, and gradually, iron lungs became obsolete. The last ones were manufactured in the late ‘60s. Today, there are two people in America who still use an iron lung. One of them is Martha Lillard. This is her story. *** This story has support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and listeners like you. Music from Blue Dot Sessions, Epidemic Sounds, and the song “Iron Lung” by Taylor Phelan and the Canes. This week’s sponsors include Uncommon Good, go to uncommongoods.com/diaries for 15% off.
22/10/2115m 24s

When Borders Move

Ever since Texas became a state, the Rio Grande has been the border between the U.S. and Mexico. But rivers can move — and that’s exactly what happened in 1864, when torrential rains caused it to jump its banks and go south. Suddenly the border was in a different place, and Texas had gained 700 acres of land called the Chamizal, named after a plant that grew in the area. The Chamizal was a thorn in the side of U.S.–Mexico relations for a century until Sept. 25, 1964, when the U.S. finally gave part of the land back to Mexico. But by that time, roughly 5,000 people had moved to the area and made it their home. This is their story. ***** This story was supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities and listeners like you. To support our work, go to www.radiodiaries.org/donate. This episode has support from Article Furniture. Get $50 your first purchase of $100 or more by going to www.article.com/diaries.
07/10/2114m 26s

The Two Lives of Asa Carter

Asa Carter and Forrest Carter couldn’t have been more different. But they shared a secret. The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter, is an iconic best-selling book, with a message about living in harmony with nature, and compassion for people of all kinds. But the story behind the book is very different. It begins with the most infamous racist political speech in American history. This week on the podcast, the true story of the untrue story of The Education of Little Tree. This story originally aired on This American Life in 2014.
23/09/2134m 4s

When Ground Zero was Radio Row

On the 20th anniversary of September 11th, 2001, we’re bringing you a story about the World Trade Center. But it isn’t about the attacks, or about everything that came after. Instead, it’s about what came before 9/11. A century ago, before the twin towers were built, the neighborhood now known as Ground Zero was home to the largest collection of radio and electronics stores in the world. Back then, it was known as Radio Row.
10/09/2117m 18s

Last Witness: The Kerner Commission

Decades before our current debate over critical race theory, the 1968 Kerner Report pointed the finger at structural racism for creating the conditions that had triggered a series of protests in Black communities across the United States in the summer of 1967. Former Senator Fred Harris is the last surviving member of the Kerner Commission, a group appointed by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the protests and author the report. This story is a part of our Last Witness series, audio portraits of the last surviving witnesses to major historical events. **** Radio Diaries is a small non-profit organization. We make this show with support from listeners like you. You can hear all our stories, sign up for our newsletter, and donate on our website www.radiodiaries.org.
26/08/2112m 21s

Prisoners of War

During the war in Vietnam, there was a notorious American military prison on the outskirts of Saigon, called Long Binh Jail. But LBJ wasn’t for captured enemy fighters. It was for American soldiers. These were men who had broken military law, and there were a lot of them. As the unpopular war dragged on, discipline frayed and soldiers started to rebel. Some were there for serious crimes, others for small stuff, like refusing to get a haircut. By the summer of 1968, LBJ had become extremely overcrowded. Originally built to house 400 inmates, it became crammed with over 700 men. On August 29th, 1968, the situation erupted. This episode originally aired on NPR in 2018.
12/08/2120m 52s

The Gospel Ranger

This is the story of a song, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down.” It was written by a 12-year-old boy on what was supposed to be his deathbed. But the boy didn’t die. Instead, he went on to become a Pentecostal preacher, and later helped inspire the birth of Rock & Roll. The boy’s name was Brother Claude Ely, and he was known as The Gospel Ranger. Also, we remember Joe Newman from our Hunker Down Diaries series, who passed away this week at 108 years old. *** This episode has support from Article Furniture. Get $50 off your first order of $100 or more by visiting article.com/diaries.
15/07/2121m 53s

The Rise and Fall of Black Swan Records

One hundred years ago, in 1921, a man named Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record company in the United States. He called it Black Swan Records. In an era when few Black musicians were recorded, the company was revolutionary. It launched the careers of Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson, William Grant Still, Alberta Hunter and other influential artists who transformed American music. But Black Swan’s success would be short-lived. Just a couple years after Pace founded the company, larger, wealthier, white competitors started to take an interest in the artists whose careers Pace had propelled. Then, Pace’s own life took a mysterious turn. **** This episode of Radio Diaries has support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and The Lily Auchincloss Foundation. We are a proud member of Radiotopia, a network of creators who are able to follow their curiosity and tell the stories they care about the most. Show your support for Radiotopia during our Spring Fundraiser. Donate today at https://on.prx.org/3wl9pWn.
25/06/2125m 1s

From the Archive: Josh's Diary

Twenty-five years ago, Josh Cutler was a 16-year old living with Tourette’s Syndrome, a brain disorder that often causes physical and verbal tics. For several months, he recorded cassette tapes of everything from conversations with his parents and classmates, to prank calls. This is his diary, which chronicles his attempts to live a normal teenage life with a brain that often betrays him. Josh’s diary first aired as part of the Teenage Diaries series on NPR in 1996. **** Radio Diaries is a proud member of Radiotopia, a network of creators who are able to follow their curiosity and tell the stories they care about the most. Show your support for Radiotopia during our Spring Fundraiser. Donate today at https://on.prx.org/3wl9pWn.
10/06/2117m 21s

The Tulsa Race Massacre, 100 Years Later

On May 31, 1921, white mobs attacked a prosperous Black neighborhood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as “Black Wall Street.” As many as three hundred people were killed, and more than a thousand homes and businesses were destroyed. Olivia Hooker was six years old at the time. She remembers watching white men with torches come through her family’s backyard, and hiding under a table with her siblings. Radio Diaries interviewed Olivia Hooker about the massacre in 2018. Six months later, she passed away at age 103. Today, to mark the centennial of the Tulsa Race Massacre, we revisit our interview with Olivia Hooker and speak with Kavin Ross about why the story of the massacre was buried for decades. **** Radio Diaries is a proud member of Radiotopia, a network of creators who are able to follow their curiosity and tell the stories they care about the most. Show your support for Radiotopia during our Spring Fundraiser. Donate today at https://on.prx.org/3wl9pWn.
27/05/2117m 39s

Juan, 25 Years Later

This week we continue celebrating Radio Diaries’ 25th anniversary by catching up with Juan from the Teenage Diaries series, which first aired on NPR in 1996. Juan was 17 when we first gave him a tape recorder and asked him to record his life for a few months. He and his family had recently come to the U.S. from Mexico, and they were living in a trailer home just half a block from the Rio Grande in Texas. Now, 25 years later, Juan lives in Colorado, where he owns his own company and has three kids. On this episode we air his original diary and more recent conversations where he reflects on life as an undocumented person, and the complexities of the American Dream. CW: Juan’s original diary contains a description of a dead body. **** Radio Diaries is a small non-profit organization. We make this show with support from listeners like you. You can hear all our stories, sign up for our newsletter, and donate on our website www.radiodiaries.org. Thank you for a quarter century of support.
13/05/2134m 47s

25 Years of Radio Diaries

This week marks a very special anniversary for Radio Diaries. It’s been 25 years since we first started giving people tape recorders to report on their own lives. To celebrate, we recently checked in with our very first diarist, Amanda. Amanda was 17 when we first gave her a clunky cassette recorder and asked her to record her life for a few months. Her story about coming out of the closet as gay and clashing with her Catholic parents was part of a series called Teenage Diaries that aired on NPR in 1996. Now, 25 years later, Amanda is married with kids, and her relationship with her parents has evolved. On this episode we air her original diary and more recent conversations with her parents and her new family. **** Radio Diaries is a small non-profit organization. We make this show with support from listeners like you. You can hear all our stories, sign up for our newsletter, and donate on our website www.radiodiaries.org. Thank you for a quarter century of support.
30/04/2126m 32s

Busman's Holiday

One day in 1947, NYC bus driver William Cimillo showed up to his daily bus route, but instead of turning left, he turned right. Over the next week, he traveled 1,300 miles in his municipal bus, ending up in Hollywood, Florida. The bus had broken down, he’d run out of money, and had no way of getting home. Plus, he was now the most wanted bus driver in the country. This story originally aired on This American Life. Go to www.radiodiaries.org to find more stories and sign up for our monthly newsletter. *** We have music this week from Podington Bear and “Detour” by Patti Page. Radio Diaries has support this week from AcornTV. Use code “diaries” to get your first 30 days free.
15/04/2120m 36s

The Last Place: Diary of a Retirement Home

For the past year, most nursing homes and assisted living facilities have been in lockdown. Residents have been kept apart—not just from their families, but from each other. They ate meals alone in their rooms, met new grandchildren on Zoom, and some were alone when they died. Today many retirement homes are starting to open up again. But the fact is, many people grow more isolated as they age. Even in normal times. Friends and partners pass away, family members and kids get distracted by their own lives. To many of us, nursing homes are a place where we too might end up—they’re a bit of mystery that we visit from time to time, a world apart. Years ago, I got to know residents at Presbyterian Homes in Evanston, Illinois. And I gave a few of them tape recorders to keep audio diaries of their lives in retirement. Today on the show, The Last Place, diary of a retirement home. *** Sponsored by Warby Parker. Try 5 pairs of glasses at home for free. Go to www.warbyparker.com/diaries Music this week from Blue Dot Sessions and “When I Grow Too Old to Dream” by Nat King Cole.
01/04/2131m 50s

Fly Girls

Soon after he entered office, President Biden issued an executive order allowing transgender people to serve in the military. It was the latest in a long series of shifts in who can serve and who can't. Women only recently were able to serve in certain ranks. And it wasn’t until 1993, that congress lifted a ban against women flying in combat. But women actually started flying military aircraft much earlier than that, 5 decades earlier. During World War II. They were known as the Women Airforce Service Pilots… the WASPs. Music this week from Blue Dot Sessions, “Flying” by the Beatles, and “Come Josephine in My Flying Machine,” performed by Blanche Ring in 1910. *** Sponsors: Warby Parker - Try 5 pairs of glasses at home for free. www.warbyparker.com/diaries\ GreenChef - Get $90 off meal kits plus free shipping www.greenchef.com/90diaries
18/03/2126m 59s

Burma '88: Buried History

On August 8, 1988 — a date chosen for its numerological power — university students in Burma sparked an uprising against the military dictatorship. They’d been living under military rule their entires lives. And they had had enough. The uprising ultimately failed, but it planted the seeds of democracy. It was the moment Aung San Suu Kyi first appeared on the political scene, and became the icon of the democracy movement. Today on the podcast: we take you back to the summer of  1988, a moment in Burma when change seemed possible. Music this week from Bang on a Can, Kyaw, Kyaw Naing, and Blue Dot Sessions.
04/03/2116m 51s

Living with Dying

One year ago, on Valentine’s Day 2020, Peter Fodera’s heart broke. It stopped working. He collapsed in the middle of teaching a dance class. Someone performed CPR, someone called an ambulance. EMT’s showed up and he lay motionless. He technically died that day. But later at the hospital, Peter’s heart started beating again. On the anniversary of Peter’s brief death, he sat down with his daughter Juliana who has Noonan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. While Peter’s experience of dying and coming back to life may seem miraculous to some of us, it doesn’t to Juliana. By her count, she’s died 21 times. Music this week from Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, Man Man, and Gotan Project.
14/02/2114m 3s

Teen Contender: Then & Now

In 2012, Claressa Shields was a 16-year-old boxer in Flint, Michigan. She had an audacious dream: to be the Muhammad Ali of womens boxing. We gave her tape recorder to keep an audio diary as she fought to make it onto the first ever women’s Olympic boxing team. Claressa is now 25 and fights professionally. With two gold medals and four world championships, she’s achieved her boxing dreams. But with boxing shut down during COVID, she has turned her attention to a different kind of dream. She bought a house. Today on the podcast, we hear Claressa’s original audio diary and bring you an update. Teen Contender won a Peabody Award in 2012. The follow up story aired on This American Life as part of their 25th anniversary special.
05/02/2131m 13s

America Vs. America

After the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, we've all been trying to grapple with an event that feels so different from anything we’ve experienced before in this country. But this attack wasn’t the first time the Capitol has been violently breached. History books mention 1814 — when the British army set fire to the Capitol. Less well known is what happened on March 1st, 1954. That’s when four young Puerto Rican New Yorkers launched an attack in the chamber of the House of Representatives. **** Support this week from GreenChef, the first USDA-certified organic meal kit company. Use code diaries90 for $90 off and free shipping.
16/01/2125m 43s

Love from Six Feet Apart (Revisited)

Robert and Wendy Jackson have been socially distancing under the same roof for 8 months. Robert is 71 and had a kidney transplant four years ago. His immune system is severely compromised. His wife, Wendy, is a pediatric emergency room doctor. When the pandemic hit in March, the couple made the difficult decision to live together…six feet apart. We also revisit the audio diary of 11-year-old Francesca Montanaro, who was going to school at her dad’s pizza shop in the Bronx. Music from Blue Dot Sessions and “Nunca Es Suficiente” by Natalia Lafourcade and Los Ángeles Azules. *** Support from AcornTV which is now streaming “A Suitable Boy” from the BBC. Use code “DIARIES” to get a free 30-day trial.
17/12/2024m 36s

Love at First Quarantine, The Sequel

When the pandemic hit back in March, Gali Beeri and Joshua Boliver decided to quarantine together, after their very first date. Today on the show, we check back in with them — eight months later — to see how a new relationship weathers a pandemic. Their story is part of our series Hunker Down Diaries, stories of people in unexpected situations during the pandemic. You can listen to the whole series on past episodes of the Radio Diaries Podcast. Music from Blue Dot Sessions, Yo La Tengo, and “Blaze & Sybil's Lullaby” by Alia Shawkat & Ben Dickey. **** Support this week from Imagined Life, a podcast from Wondery.
04/12/2028m 5s

Centenarians (Still) in Lockdown

It’s been 9 months since Joe Newman (107) and Anita Sampson (100) recorded their story about surviving the 1918 pandemic, getting older, and staying in love during lockdown. We’re thrilled to announce they just won a Third Coast Award! We share their story and check in with them in Sarasota, Florida where COVID cases are surging. **** Support this week from AcornTV and their new series “A Suitable Boy” from the BBC.
20/11/2015m 55s

How to Lose an Election: A History

Presidential campaigns are essentially dramas, and we’re in the final act of this one. The curtain is about to come down.For the past century, the moment of closure has come in the form of one simple act: the public concession. From William Jennings Bryan to Adlai Stevenson to John McCain to Al Gore and Hillary Clinton…. A History of How To Lose An Election. **** We have support from Imagined Life, a podcast from Wondery. https://wondery.com/shows/imagined-life/ And Source Material, a new show from Vice. https://video.vice.com/en_us/show/source-material
02/11/2019m 3s

When Nazis Took Manhattan

In an election season when the words "Will you condemn white supremacy" are considered a gotcha question at a presidential debate, it seems like a good time to look back at another moment in American history when race and ethnic division took center stage. On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro-American rally." Inside, on the stage, there was a 30-foot tall banner of George Washington, sandwiched between American flags...and two huge swastikas. Today’s episode is a special collaboration with The Memory Palace and producer Nate DiMeo. Special thanks to Marshall Curry, whose film “A Night To Remember” inspired this story. Music from Blue Dot Sessions.
01/10/2020m 13s

March of the Bonus Army

In the summer of 1932, a group of World War I veterans in Portland, Oregon hopped a freight train and started riding the rails to Washington DC. They were demanding immediate payment of a cash bonus the government had promised them after the war – but delayed until 1945. More than 20,000 veterans and their families arrived in the nation’s capital. They established a tent city and vowed to stay until their demands were met. But, in a historic confrontation, General Douglas MacArthur’s Army troops routed the veterans and burned their camp to the ground. This is the story of the Bonus Army. See photos of the Bonus Army on our website. http://www.radiodiaries.org/march-of-the-bonus-army/
10/09/2016m 20s

The Forgotten Story of Clinton Melton

This summer, videos of Black people killed by police officers have sparked outrage and protests across the country. 65 years ago, it was a photograph that shocked the nation. The image of 14-year-old Emmett Till. Till had traveled from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta to visit family, when he was kidnapped, horribly beaten and killed by white men after allegedly flirting with a white woman. His body was later found in the Tallahatchie river. Today, Emmett Till’s death is considered the spark that ignited the burgeoning Civil Rights movement. But few people know there was another brazen murder of a Black man that happened just three months later, in a neighboring town in the Delta.  Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast, we tell the forgotten story of Clinton Melton. *** Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
27/08/2016m 6s

The Infamous Words of George Wallace

A law and order politician who rails against anarchists protesting in the streets and the lying mainstream media? It may sound familiar, but we’re actually going back more than five decades on the show today, when Alabama Governor and four time presidential candidate George Wallace was perfecting the politics of resentment and race baiting. A lot of people have commented on the similarities between that time and now. Congressman John Lewis was one of them.
06/08/2012m 53s

The Final Frontline

The Kearns family funeral business was founded in New York City in the year 1900. Over 120 years, the family has seen a lot of history. Patrick Kearns and Paul Kearns-Stanley are the owners. After 4 months, they finally had a chance to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it's looked from their corner of New York. They sat down together on a recent evening — at the end of a long work day — in their funeral home in Queens. This is our final installment of Hunker Down Diaries, at least for now. If you’ve enjoyed the series, tell a friend! And tag us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Music this week from Blue Dot Sessions and “Hunker Down” by Big Dudee Roo.
13/07/2010m 43s

Quarantined in the Pizzeria

COVID-19 has forced many families to improvise childcare. For some, it's been like a four month long 'bring your child to work' day. Paul Montanaro runs a pizza shop in the Bronx. That's where his 11-year-old daughter Francesca has been spending her days since her school shut down in March. Both of Francesca's parents are essential workers - her mom is an ICU nurse at a hospital in Manhattan. For our Hunker Down Diaries series, we asked Francesca to keep an audio diary as she finished up 5th grade in the pizzeria. Music this week from Blue Dot Sessions and “Nunca Es Suficiente” by Los Angeles Azules and Natalia Lafourcade.
03/07/2010m 32s

Lockdown in Lockup

Coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country and the five largest clusters of the virus are in correctional institutions. This isn’t a surprise. Prisons are often overcrowded, social distancing is difficult, bathrooms and public spaces are shared by hundreds of inmates. Guards are constantly going in and out. In a pandemic, prison is probably the worst place a person could be. Robbie Pollock spent 8 years in New York state prisons. Recently, he spoke with his friend Moe Monsuri, who has been incarcerated since 2007. Monsuri is currently serving his time at Sing Sing, a maximum security prison in upstate New York, where four inmates have died of COVID-19. This story was produced by reporter Daniel Gross as part of our new series Hunker Down Diaries. You can find more of Daniel’s work at The New Yorker. Image by Acroterion. Music from Blue Dot Sessions.
25/06/209m 43s

Home is Where You Park Your Mini Van

Back in March, as the pandemic hit, many people across the country found themselves without a safety net. Naida Lavon was one of them. Naida is 67 and a former school bus driver. She was recently furloughed from her part time job at a rental car company. For the past few months, Naida’s been living in her car on the streets of Portland, Oregon. As part of our Hunker Down Diaries series, we bring you her story. Music this week from Blue Dot Sessions and “Home Again” by Michael Kiwanuka.
16/06/2012m 57s

The Words of Renault Robinson, Then and Now

Renault Robinson was one of Chicago's few black police officers in the 1970s. He was a founder of the Afro-American Patrolmen's League. We first learned about Robinson from Studs Terkel's book Working. Studs went around the country in the 1970s interviewing people about their jobs. Robinson's interview is one of the most powerful parts of the book. He is incredibly honest and blunt about what it was like to be a black police officer, and about the tensions between the police and the black community. A few years ago, we interviewed Robinson for our series "Working, Then and Now." When you listen to his words from the 1970s, and from 50 years later, what's most striking is how much things haven't changed.
04/06/2010m 24s

Love at First Quarantine

Gali Beeri and Joshua Boliver both live in New York City and they were both single back in March when the city was preparing to lock down. Then they decided to quarantine together, after their very first date. Their story is part of our series Hunker Down Diaries, a collaboration with NPR, bringing you stories of people in unexpected situations during the pandemic. If you have an idea for the series, write to hunkerdown@radiodiaries.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter. Music this week from Blue Dot Sessions, Yo La Tengo, and “Blaze & Sybil's Lullaby” by Alia Shawkat & Ben Dickey.
15/05/2020m 31s

Love from Six Feet Apart

Most of the country is social distancing in public, but some people are doing it under the same roof. Robert Jackson is 71 and had a kidney transplant four years ago. His immune system is severely compromised. His wife, Wendy Jackson, is a pediatric emergency room physician. She runs the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus at work. So the couple made the difficult decision to live together... six feet apart. Their story is part of our series Hunker Down Diaries, a collaboration with NPR, bringing you stories of people in unexpected situations during the pandemic. If you have an idea for the series, write to hunkerdown@radiodiaries.org or find us on Facebook and Twitter. This episode also features the series “Our Show,” produced by Erica Heilman of the Rumble Strip Podcast, in collaboration with Transom.org.
24/04/2020m 37s

Centenarians in Lockdown

Joe Newman is 107 years old. He was 5 during the flu pandemic of 1918. Today, he lives in a senior apartment complex in Sarasota, Florida with his fiancé, Anita Sampson. The complex is on lockdown, so we sent them a recorder and they interviewed each other on Anita's 100th birthday. This story is the first in a new series called Hunker Down Diaries, surprising stories from people thrown together by the pandemic. Produced in collaboration with NPR. In the coming weeks we’ll be bringing you more stories about a teenager in foster care, the daily life of hospital workers, and a couple who decided to quarantine together after their first date. If you have an idea for the series we’d love to hear from you. You can send your quarantine stories to info@radiodiaries. Or find us on Facebook and Twitter. Series art by 13milliseconds.
10/04/2013m 20s

Soul Sister

There’s a long history in America of white people imagining black people’s lives - in novels, in movies, and sometimes in journalism.  In 1969, Grace Halsell, a white journalist, published a book called Soul Sister. It was her account of living as a “black woman” in the United States. Lyndon Johnson provided a blurb for the book, and it sold over a million copies. Halsell was inspired by John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me, which came out in 1961. That was inspired by an even earlier book in the 1940’s. It’s hard to imagine any of these projects happening now. It seems like a kind of journalistic blackface. But Halsell’s book raises a lot of questions that are still relevant today - about race, and the limits of empathy. This episode is a collaboration with NPR’s Code Switch.
11/03/2035m 15s

The Long Haul: Busman's Holiday

Busman’s Holiday: When William Cimillo, a NYC bus driver went on a 1,300 mile detour to Florida. This story originally aired on This American Life. Our episode is part of a network-wide project to welcome Over the Road, Radiotopia’s newest show, into the family. *** This episode is sponsored by LightStream. To get a discount on a credit card consolidation loan, go to lightstream.com/diaries.
05/03/2022m 59s

History Had Me Glued to the Seat

You know the story of Rosa Parks. But have you heard of Claudette Colvin? Claudette grew up in the segregated city of Montgomery, Alabama. On March 2, 1955, when she was 15 years old, she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. Nine months later, Rosa Parks did the exact same thing. Parks, of course, became a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement. But Claudette Colvin has largely been left out of the history books. In 1956, about a year after Colvin refused to give up her seat, her attorney Fred Gray filed the landmark federal lawsuit Browder v. Gayle. This case ended segregation on public transportation in Alabama. Claudette Colvin was a star witness. This is her story.
20/02/2011m 47s

Voicemail Valentine

Nowadays we’re very accustomed to recording and hearing the sound of our own voices. But in the 1930s many people were doing it for the first time. And a surprising trend began. People started sending their voices to each other, through the postal service. It was literally: voice-mail. We combed through a large collection of early voicemail at the Phono Post Archive, and we discovered that many of these audio letters have the same subject matter: love. You can see photographs of the voice-o-graphs on our website: http://www.radiodiaries.org/a-voicemail-valentine/
06/02/2014m 33s

My So-Called Lungs

Laura Rothenberg spent most of her life knowing she was going to die young. She had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs. When she was born, the life expectancy for people with CF was around 18 years. (It's more than double that now.) Laura liked to say she went through her mid-life crisis when she was a teenager. Joe met Laura when she was 19 and gave her a tape recorder. And for two years, she kept an audio diary of her battle with cystic fibrosis and her attempts to live a normal life - with lungs that often betrayed her.
16/01/2031m 54s

The Teenage Diaries Revisited Hour Special

Back in the 1990s, Joe Richman gave tape recorders to a bunch of teenagers and asked them to report on their own lives. These stories became the series “Teenage Diaries.” 16 years later, in “Teenage Diaries Revisited,” we check back in with this group to see what’s happened in their lives. **** Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today. #RadiotopiaForever
19/12/1959m 21s

Thembi's Diary, Revisited

We first met Thembi when she was 19 and living in one of the largest townships in South Africa. We were struck by her candor, sense of humor and her courage. She was willing to speak out about having AIDS at a time when very few South Africans did. Thembi carried a tape recorder from 2004 to 2005 to document her life. In this episode, we revisit Thembi’s diary, and we introduce listeners to Thembi’s daughter, Onwabo. **** Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today. #RadiotopiaForever
05/12/1932m 5s

The Last Witness

For this episode, Radiotopia gave all of us in the network a prompt: if we were to create another show, any show, what would it be? Well, we’d make an obituary show. Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today. #RadiotopiaForever
29/11/1910m 4s

The Press is the Enemy

Fifty years ago, on November 13, 1969, Spiro Agnew delivered the most famous speech ever given by a vice president. His message: the media is biased. President Nixon was getting beaten up by the press, and in response, his administration had been trying to undercut the credibility of the media, especially television news. The war between politicians and the media has a long history. Today on the podcast, the story of Agnew’s speech. Also, the story of Adlai Stevenson, a presidential candidate doomed to fail on this new-fangled thing called television.
13/11/1916m 11s

The View from the 79th Floor

On July 28, 1945 an Army bomber pilot on a routine ferry mission found himself lost in the fog over Manhattan. A dictation machine in a nearby office happened to capture the sound of the plane as it hit the Empire State Building at the 79th floor. Fourteen people were killed. Debris from the plane severed the cables of an elevator, which fell 79 stories with a young woman inside. She survived. The crash prompted new legislation that – for the first time – gave citizens the right to sue the federal government.
17/10/1916m 39s

The Dropped Wrench

Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time. It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo. This story was produced in collaboration with This American Life. *** If you enjoy this podcast, please consider making a donation to support our work! www.radiodiaries.org/donate Thank you!
03/10/1941m 50s

Prisoners of War

During the war in Vietnam, there was a notorious American military prison on the outskirts of Saigon, called Long Binh Jail. But LBJ wasn’t for captured enemy fighters, it was for American soldiers. These were men who had broken military law. And there were a lot of them. As the unpopular war dragged on, discipline frayed and soldiers started to rebel. By the summer of 1968, over half the men in Long Binh Jail were locked up on AWOL charges. Some were there for more serious crimes, others for small stuff, like refusing to get a haircut. The stockade had become extremely overcrowded. Originally built to house 400 inmates, it became crammed with over 700 men, more than half African American. On August 29th, 1968, the situation erupted. Fifty years later, we bring you the incredible story.
19/09/1920m 59s

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: "Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do." This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country. Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and forgotten for decades. A couple years ago, Radio Diaries and the organization Project& were given exclusive access to the tapes. On this episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast, we're bringing you eleven stories from Studs' Working tapes. There's the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.
05/09/1959m 29s

Stories from a Vanishing New York

Today on the podcast, we pay a visit to Walter the Seltzer Man, and also remember Selma Koch, the iconic bra fitter in the Upper West Side's Town Shop.
22/08/1924m 21s

Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed

Today…there’s “The Squad.” But 50 years ago, there was only one woman of color in the U.S. Congress, and she was the first. Shirley Chisholm, of New York City, was elected to Congress in a historic victory in 1968. And like the squad...Chisholm made her voice heard. In 1972, Chisholm launched a spirited campaign for the Democratic nomination. She was the first woman and first African American to run. Declaring herself “unbought and unbossed,” she took on the political establishment, declaring herself “the candidate of the people.”
25/07/1916m 33s

The Square Deal

100 years ago, George F. Johnson ran the biggest shoe factory in the world. The Endicott-Johnson Corporation in upstate New York produced 52 million pairs of shoes a year. But Johnson wasn’t only known for his shoes. Johnson had an unusual theory at the time, about how workers should be treated. Some people called it “Welfare Capitalism.” He called it “The Square Deal.”
20/06/1917m 17s

Amanda's Diary: Revisited

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, a turning point in the gay rights movement. The anniversary is a reminder of how much has changed since 1969, when "homosexual acts" were illegal in all states but one - Illinois. Today, gay marriage is legal across the nation. Here at Radio Diaries we have our own small time capsule of how much has changed. The very first audio diary I ever did, with Amanda Brand. Amanda's story was about being a gay teenager, with parents who were having a really hard time with the idea. Today on our podcast, we're revisiting Amanda's diary, and we catch up on her life now.
06/06/1921m 56s

Last Witness: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

On May 31, 1921, six-year-old Olivia Hooker was home with her family when a group of white men launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1000 homes and businesses. It’s estimated as many as 300 people were killed. The Tulsa Race Riot is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history. Olivia Hooker was the last surviving witness to the events of that day. Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook @RadioDiaries.
20/05/199m 57s

Juan's Diaries: Undocumented, Then and Now

Back in the 1990s, Juan crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, and settled with his family next to the Rio Grande river in Texas. We gave him a cassette recorder to document his life there for NPR. Almost two decades later, we gave Juan another recorder to report on his life as an adult. In many ways, Juan has achieved the American Dream - he has a house, a good job, and three American kids. But...he's still undocumented.
02/05/1934m 25s

The Bonus Army

In 1932, 20,000 WWI veterans set up a tent city in Washington. They called themselves the Bonus Army. See photos of the Bonus Army here: http://www.radiodiaries.org/march-of-the-bonus-army/
18/04/1916m 20s

The Working Tapes

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. He turned these interviews into a book called, “Working.” After the book was released in 1974, the tapes were packed away in Studs home office. A few years ago, we at Radio Diaries, along with our collaborator Jane Saks of Project&, were offered the chance to make a radio and podcast series out of the recordings. In today’s episode, we bring you some of our favorite stories from The Working Tapes.
04/04/1925m 35s

The Story of Jane

Before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade, abortions were illegal in most of the United States. But that didn't mean women didn't have them. Hundreds of women were dying every year in botched abortions. In 1965, an underground network formed in Chicago to help women who wanted to have abortions, in a medically safe way.  At first, they connected women with doctors willing to break the law to perform the procedure. Eventually, women in the collective trained to perform abortions themselves. Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast...The Story of Jane. And a heads up -  this story includes some graphic descriptions that may not be appropriate for all listeners.
21/03/1914m 39s

The Ski Troops of WWII

The men of the 10th Mountain Division led a series of daring assaults against the Nazis in the mountains of Italy during WWII. After returning home, many of these soldiers helped to create the modern ski industry.
07/03/1925m 27s

When Nazis Took Manhattan

On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro-American rally." Inside, on the stage, there was a 30-foot tall banner of George Washington, sandwiched between American flags...and two huge swastikas. Today’s episode is a special collaboration with The Memory Palace. *** This episode is sponsored by Care/Of, a monthly subscription vitamin service. For 50% off your first month, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter radiodiaries50.
20/02/1921m 8s

A Voicemail Valentine

Nowadays we’re very accustomed to recording and hearing the sound of our own voices. But in the 1930s many people were doing it for the first time. And a surprising trend began. People started sending their voices to each other, through the postal service. It was literally: voice-mail. We recently combed through a large collection of early voicemail at the Phono Post Archive, and we discovered that many of these audio letters are about the same thing: Love.
11/02/1914m 4s

The Border Wall

Stories about walls and borders, and what happens when – instead of people crossing the border – the border crosses the people. Act 1: Wrong Side of the Fence Pamela Taylor technically lives in the U.S. But somehow, her house is on the Mexican side of the border wall. Act 2: The Chamizal Ever since Texas became a state, the Rio Grande has been the official border between the US and Mexico. The problem is, rivers can move – and that’s exactly what happened in 1864. Torrential rains caused the river to jump its banks and go south. All of a sudden, the border was in a different place… and that was a problem. Featuring the song, “Chamizal Blues” by Bob Burns and the Tekewoods. **** This episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast has support from Audible, the largest collection of audiobooks on the planet. Select from thousands of best sellers, mysteries, memories, wellness guides, histories and more.   Try audible by downloading a book for free today. Go to Audible.com/diaries or text DIARIES to 500500.
16/01/1918m 1s

Thembi's Diary

We first met Thembi when she was 19 and living in one of the largest townships in South Africa. We were struck by her candor, sense of humor and her courage. She was willing to speak out about having AIDS at a time when very few South Africans were willing to. Thembi carried a tape recorder from 2004 to 2005 to document her life. In this episode, we revisit Thembi’s diary.
19/12/1833m 10s

Bonus Episode: Hear the World Differently

There’s an old saying that “sound is like touch from a distance.” We think it’s a perfect metaphor for what we at Radio Diaries — and all the shows at Radiotopia — try to do. We want to help you hear the world differently. We’re in the middle of our annual fundraiser where we ask you, our listeners, to support the network that makes this show possible. Our goal is to reach 25,000 donors. Every donation counts, no matter the size. So give what you can and help us get one step closer. There’s some great new swag and opportunities to meet your favorite producers. Including a one-on-one chat with Joe Richman and the rest of the Radio Diaries team. Go to https://www.radiotopia.fm/donate-2018e to donate. And thank you.
10/12/185m 33s

A Guitar, A Cello, and the Day that Changed Music

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men – an ocean apart – sat before a microphone and began to play. One was a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain; the other played guitar and was a regular in the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta. But on this day 75 years ago, Pablo Casals and Robert Johnson both made recordings that would change music history.
15/11/1817m 14s

The Song That Crossed Party Lines

Our country is so politically polarized these days, it’s hard to remember a time when Republicans and Democrats could agree on anything at all. In today’s episode, we’re going back almost 80 years, to another extremely polarized moment in American history. It was 1940, and the U.S. was deeply divided about engaging in World War II. Franklin Roosevelt was running for his third term, facing a Republican challenger, Wendell Wilkie. But that election season, the Republican Party, The Democrats, and even the Communist Party managed to agree on one thing: A song. It was called “Ballad for Americans.”
01/11/1813m 31s

Campaigning While Female

A record-breaking number of women are running for Congress in the midterm elections this November. There are 257, dwarfing all previous years. And in 2020, we’ll likely see a record number of women running for President as well. It's a historic moment for women in politics. But what many people don’t know is that - over the years - there have actually been more than 35 women who have run for President. Today on the show we have three stories of women who launched bids to be President of the United States: Victoria Woodhull, Margaret Chase Smith, and Shirley Chisholm. These stories are part of our series, Contenders. Sponsored by Quip - get your first refill pack FREE by going to getquip.com/diaries.
18/10/1828m 43s

Serving Time 9-5: Diaries from Prison Guards

Sergeant Furman Camel spent 27 years in a North Carolina Prison. That's as many years as Nelson Mandela spent behind bars. But Camel did his time, as likes to say, in 8 hour shifts. "I wear this uniform with pride. Everyday that I come in here I'm creased down. My shoes are shined. And I smell good. The uniform is 90% of the job. Looking the part." In this episode we bring you audio diaries from the prison guards who work at Polk Youth Institution.
04/10/1824m 17s

Matthew and the Judge

We gave Judge Jeremiah, a Rhode Island juvenile court judge, and Matthew, a 16-year-old repeat offender, tape recorders. Through their audio diaries, Matthew and the judge tell the same story from two different sides of the bench.
20/09/1821m 18s

Prisoners of War

During the war in Vietnam, there was a notorious American military prison on the outskirts of Saigon, called Long Binh Jail. But LBJ wasn’t for captured enemy fighters, it was for American soldiers. These were men who had broken military law. And there were a lot of them. As the unpopular war dragged on, discipline frayed and soldiers started to rebel. By the summer of 1968, over half the men in Long Binh Jail were locked up on AWOL charges. Some were there for more serious crimes, others for small stuff, like refusing to get a haircut. The stockade had become extremely overcrowded. Originally built to house 400 inmates, it became crammed with over 700 men, more than half African American. On August 29th, 1968, the situation erupted. Fifty years later, we’re bringing you that story. Sponsors:  Quip – Get first refill pack FREE by going to www.getquip.com/diaries
29/08/1822m 1s

Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It was the first time a nuclear weapon had been used in warfare. There were three strike planes that flew over Hiroshima that day: the Enola Gay which carried the bomb, and two escort planes, the Great Artiste and the Necessary Evil. Russell Gackenbach was a Second Lieutenant and a navigator on the mission. Today, he is the only surviving crew member from those three planes. Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch! You can find us on Twitter and Facebook, use the hashtag #LastWitness. Sponsors: LinkedIn – Get $50 off your first job posting at www.linkedin.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout. Quip – Get first refill pack FREE by going to www.getquip.com/diaries
06/08/1815m 41s

Nelson Mandela at 100

Nelson Mandela would have been 100 years old this week. And we’re marking the anniversary by bringing you our documentary, Mandela: An Audio History. This award-winning series chronicles the struggle against apartheid through intimate first-person accounts of Nelson Mandela himself, as well as those who fought with him, and against him. ************* Sponsors: _ LinkedIn,  get $50 off your first job posting at www.linkedin.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout._ Bombas, a sock company on a mission. Get 20% off at www.bombas.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout.
17/07/181h 2m

Busman’s Holiday

The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947 and went on a 1,300 mile detour with his bus… to Florida. ************* This episode is sponsored by  Quip. _ _Brush Better with a new kind of toothbrush. Go to www.getquip.com/diaries to get your first refill pack FREE.
21/06/1821m 54s

Last Witness: The General Slocum

On June 15, 1904, a steamship called the General Slocum left the pier on East Third Street in New York City just after 9 AM. The boat was filled with more than 1,300 residents of the Lower East Side. Many of the passengers were recent German immigrants who were headed up the east river for a church outing, a boat cruise and picnic on Long Island. But they would never make it. We interviewed the last living survivor of the General Slocum, Adella Wotherspoon, when she was 100 years old. Today we’re bringing you her story as part of our series, Last Witness. Plus, a portrait of the last civilian lighthouse keeper in the U.S. Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch! You can find us on Twitter and Facebook, use the hashtag #LastWitness. Sponsors: Bombas – Get 20% off at www.bombas.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout. LinkedIn – Get $50 off your first job posting at www.linkedin.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout. TalkSpace – Go to www.talkspace.com/PRX and use code PRX to get $45 off your first month.
14/06/1819m 3s

Last Witness: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

On May 31, 1921, six-year-old Olivia Hooker was home with her family when a group of white men launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1000 homes and businesses. It’s estimated as many as 300 people were killed. The Tulsa Race Riot is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history. Olivia Hooker, now 103, is the last surviving witness to the events of that day. Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch! You can find us on Twitter and Facebook, use the hashtag #LastWitness. Sponsors: Bombas – Get 20% off at www.bombas.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout. LinkedIn – Get $50 off your first job posting at www.linkedin.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout. TalkSpace – Go to www.talkspace.com/PRX and use code PRX to get $45 off your first month.
31/05/1822m 1s

Fly Girls

In the early 1940s, the U.S. Air Force faced a dilemma. Thousands of new airplanes were coming off assembly lines and needed to be delivered to military bases nationwide, yet most of America’s pilots were overseas fighting the war. To solve the problem, the government launched an experimental program to train women pilots. They were known as the WASPs, the Women Air Force Service Pilots.
03/05/1825m 47s

Strange Fruit, Revisited

Over the past few years, there’s been a movement to tear down the Confederate monuments dotted all over the south. At the same time, there are some new monuments going up. On April 26, the nation’s first lynching memorial will open in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and it pays tribute to the more than 4,400 black people who were killed by lynch mobs between 1877 and 1950. Visitors will walk underneath more than 800 suspended columns, each representing a county where a lynching occurred. One of those columns represents a lynching in Marion, Indiana. It’s the lynching that inspired the song, Strange Fruit. And it’s the only known lynching where a person survived. His name was James Cameron. This is his story – and the story of the white residents who witnessed and took part in the events of that day. This is Strange Fruit.
19/04/1818m 0s

Crime Pays

There’s a program in Richmond, CA that has a controversial method of reducing gun violence in their city: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds crazy, but the even crazier part is…it works.
06/04/1823m 19s

The Green Book

The 1950s were the golden age of the American road trip. But of course freedom of movement didn’t apply to all Americans. Jim Crow was the law in the South. Traveling while Black wasn’t easy. Today on the podcast we’re bringing you a story about how Black travelers made a secret road map so they could get around safely. It’s told by our friends and fellow Radiotopians at 99% Invisible.
22/03/1820m 40s

Deported: Weasel’s Diary

At 26-years-old, Jose William Huezo Soriano—a.k.a. Weasel—was deported back to his parents’ home country, El Salvador, a country he hadn’t seen since he was 5. This is his audio diary.
08/03/1833m 31s

Nine Months Before Rosa Parks

You’ve heard of Rosa Parks, but do you know about Claudette Colvin? On March 2, 1955, when Claudette was 15 years old, she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, AL. This was nine months before Rosa Parks did the same thing.
28/02/1811m 45s

A Voicemail Valentine

Nowadays we’re very accustomed to recording and hearing the sound of our own voices. But in the 1930s many people were doing it for the first time. And a surprising trend began. People started sending their voices to each other, through the postal service. It was literally: voice-mail. We recently combed through a large collection of early voicemail at the Phono Post Archive, and we discovered that many of these audio letters are about the same thing: Love. *** This episode is supported by Zola, a company that’s reinventing wedding planning. To sign up and receive a 50 dollar credit towards your own registry, go to http://www.zola.com/radiodiaries
14/02/1814m 26s

The Story of Jane

Abortion is one of the most divisive issues in American life and politics. 45 years after Roe vs. Wade – our country is still split. It’s easy to forget that it wasn’t so long ago when abortions were illegal everywhere in the United States. In 1965, an underground network formed in Chicago to help pregnant women get abortions. At first, they connected women with doctors willing to break the law to perform the procedure. Eventually, they were trained and began performing abortions themselves. The group called itself “Jane.” Over the years, Jane performed more than 11,000 first and second trimester abortions.
19/01/1814m 28s

The Dropped Wrench

Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time. It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo. A collaboration with This American Life. *** If you enjoy this podcast, please consider making a donation before the end of the year. www.radiodiaries.org/donate Thank you!
23/12/1740m 31s

Majd’s Diary: Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl

Majd Abdulghani is a teenager living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. She wants to be a scientist. Her family wants to arrange her marriage. From the age of 19 to 21, Majd has been chronicling her life with a microphone, taking us inside a society where the voices of women are rarely heard. In her audio diary, Majd documents everything from arguments with her brother about how much she should cover herself in front of men, to late night thoughts about loneliness, arranged marriages, and the possibility of true love.
21/11/1734m 18s

Under the Radar

16 years after recording his teenage diary, Juan now lives in Colorado. He has a house, a good job, and three American kids. But…he’s still undocumented. This is Juan’s story, from our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited. *** We are proud to be founding members of Radiotopia, a network of the most creative, smart, and inspiring podcasts in the world. We hope you’ll become a Radiotopia citizen today! Go to www.radiotopia.fm to donate and support the podcasts you love.
02/11/1715m 46s

Juan’s Story, Live at the Moth

Juan crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally as a teen, and settled with his family in Texas. In 1996, he recorded an audio diary for our Teenage Diaries project. In this week’s episode, listen to Juan’s Teenage Diary, as well as a new story that he told live on stage (as a grown-up) at The Moth. *** We are proud to be founding members of Radiotopia, a network of the most creative, smart, and inspiring podcasts in the world. We hope you’ll become a Radiotopia citizen today! Go to www.radiotopia.fm to donate and support the podcasts you love.
23/10/1730m 9s

The Two Lives of Asa Carter

Asa Carter and Forrest Carter couldn’t have been more different. But they shared a secret. The Education of Little Tree, by Forrest Carter, is an iconic best-selling book, with a message about living in harmony with nature, and compassion for people of all kinds. But there’s a very different story behind the book. It begins with the most infamous racist political speech in American History. This week on the Radio Diaries Podcast, the true story of the untrue story of The Education of Little Tree.
05/10/1733m 2s

The Last Place

When you spend so much of your life getting to the next stage, thinking about the next move, what is it like to find yourself in…the Last Place? In this episode, we bring you audio diaries from a retirement home.
21/09/1730m 31s

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel (Hour Special)

For Labor Day, we’re bringing you a special, one hour episode of our series The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel. In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: “Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do.” This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country. And after “Working” came out, something surprising happened. It became a bestseller. It even inspired a Broadway musical. Something about ordinary people talking about their daily lives, struck a cord. Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and few have ever been heard. On this episode of the podcast, we’re bringing you eleven stories from the book. There’s the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.
03/09/1758m 26s

Willie McGee and The Traveling Electric Chair

In 1945, Willie McGee was accused of raping a white woman. The all-white jury took less than three minutes to find him guilty and McGee was sentenced to death. Over the next six years, the case went through three trials and sparked international protests and appeals. But in 1951, McGee was put to death in Mississippi’s traveling electric chair. His execution was broadcast live by a local radio station. Narrated by Bridgette McGee, this documentary follows a granddaughter’s search for the truth. *** We want to know more about you and what you think of this podcast! Please fill out our survey at www.surveynerds.com/radiodiaries It’s a small thing, but one that will help us out a lot. Thanks.
17/08/1730m 40s

Miss Subways

Most beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl. Each month starting in 1941, a young woman was elected “Miss Subways,” and her face gazed down on transit riders as they rode through the city. Her photo was accompanied by a short bio describing her hopes, dreams and aspirations. The public got to choose the winners – so Miss Subway represented the perfect New York miss. She was also a barometer of changing times. Miss Subways was one of the first integrated beauty pageants in America. An African-American Miss Subways was selected in 1948 – more than thirty years before there was a black Miss America. By the 1950s there were Miss Subways who were Black, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic – the faces of New York’s female commuters.
27/07/1710m 54s

Mexico ’68 and the Tlatelolco Massacre

In 1968, Mexico City was preparing to host the Olympics. It was the first time that a Latin American country would host the Games, and the government was hoping to show off the new, modern, Mexico. At the same time, student protests were regularly sweeping through the streets of Mexico City. And just 10 days before the Olympics were to begin, on October 2, the Mexican army fired on a peaceful student demonstration in the Tlatelolco neighborhood. The official announcement was that four students were dead, but eyewitnesses said they saw hundred of dead bodies being trucked away. The Tlatelolco Massacre is one of the darkest episodes in Mexican history. Over the years, the death toll isn’t the only thing the government has covered up.
27/06/1726m 4s

The Rubber Room

The New York City public school system is huge. More than a million students, all being taught by 75,000 teachers. Except, a few hundred of those teachers are being paid NOT to teach. These are teachers who are accused of misconduct. Often without warning, they’re removed from their classrooms and sent to a Department of Education reassignment center. Teachers call it: “The Rubber Room.” The truth is, some of these teachers haven’t done anything wrong. And sometimes they don’t even know why they’ve ended up in the Rubber Room. But the worst part is that teachers can remain there for years while their cases slowly creep through the system. Not guilty, not innocent… just doing time. In 2010, the NYC Department of Education made an agreement with the Teachers Union to close the Rubber Room. Turns out, that hasn’t been so easy.
02/06/1731m 39s

The Oddest Town in America

This month, the big tent is finally coming down. After 146 years, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey are closing the ‘Greatest Show on Earth.’ The elephants have already retired to a farm in central florida. Where will the 400 human cast and crew members go next? Perhaps they’ll go just an hour west of that elephant farm…to Gibsonton, Florida. It was once known as the Oddest Town in America. Gibsonton – aka Gibtown – is where the Sideshow went to retire.
19/05/1711m 30s

Radio Diaries Live at the Moth

When our friends at the storytelling show, The Moth, heard Melissa Rodriguez’s audio diary, they invited her to tell a story live on stage, in a special show in Brooklyn. For Mother’s day, we’re bringing you Melissa’s story, as she told it live at The Moth.
04/05/1725m 45s

The Gospel Ranger

This is the story of a song, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down,” written by a 12-year-old boy on his deathbed. A boy who – instead of dying – went on to become a Pentecostal preacher. A boy who would later help inspire the birth of Rock & Roll. His name was Brother Claude Ely…and he was known as The Gospel Ranger.
13/04/1717m 17s

Remembering Robben Island

Nelson Mandela famously spent 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid in South Africa. He was sentenced to life in 1964 for treason, along with 7 others. One of them was Ahmed Kathrada who died this week. He was 87.  Mandela, Kathrada and the others served most of their sentences at Robben Island. Kathrada often said that being in prison for more than two decades was like being preserved in amber. When he was released, he found himself in a pretty different country. He was now allowed in the same restaurants, theaters and libraries as whites. But being allowed in doesn’t always mean you feel you belong. After spending his entire life fighting a racist system, Kathrada said he began to realize how much of that system he still carried inside. Today on the podcast, we’re remembering Ahmed Kathrada with chapter 3 of our series Mandela: An Audio History. Voices: Eddie Daniels (political prisoner) Ahmed Kathrada (political prisoner) Sonny Venkatrathnam (political prisoner) Neville Alexander (political prisoner) Nelson Mandela Zindzi Mandela-Hlongwane (daughter of Nelson Mandela) Mac Maharaj (political prisoner)  
31/03/1711m 29s

The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski

In 1966, a young Marine took a reel-to-reel tape recorder with him into the Vietnam War. For two months, Michael A. Baronowski made tapes of his friends, of life in foxholes, of combat. And he sent those audio letters home to his family in Norristown, Pennsylvania. And then he was killed in action. Michael’s tapes survived and were used to produce this story as part of the public radio series “Lost and Found Sound,” created by the Kitchen Sisters and Jay Allison. The story was produced by Christina Egloff and Jay Allison. *** Thanks to Jay Allison for writing a truly inspiring foreword to our new DIY Handbook. The handbook is a guide to producing great radio stories with chapters on interviewing, writing, and editing. Go to Transom.org to read Jay’s intro and get your own copy.    
16/03/1724m 46s

Weasel’s Diary, Revisited

An estimated 11 million undocumented immigrants live in the United States. Over the past month, the Trump Administration has unveiled plans to arrest and deport large numbers of them. Under Obama, close to 3 million immigrants were deported. Trump is trying to do it faster. And with fewer restrictions. Undocumented immigrants have long been an easy political target, especially those who’ve committed crimes. But, like everything, the individual stories are always more complicated. In 1999, we met Jose William Huezo Soriano – everybody called him Weasel. Weasel was born in El Salvador and grew up in Los Angeles. He had a pretty typical American childhood. But as a teenager he joined a gang, and started getting in trouble with the police. Then Weasel got deported back to El Salvador. He was 26 years old, and he hadn’t been there since he was 5. He had no memories of the country. No close family there. And he’d forgotten most of his Spanish. Soon after he got deported, we gave Weasel a tape recorder to document his first year back in El Salvador.  
02/03/1734m 6s

The Last Civil War Widows

Daisy Anderson and Alberta Martin lived what seemed like parallel lives. Both had grown up poor, children of sharecroppers in the South. Daisy in Tennessee; Alberta in Alabama. Both women got married in their early 20’s, to men who were near 80. And both those husbands had served in the Civil War. But as it happens, they’d served on opposite sides. Daisy and Alberta were two of the last surviving Civil War widows.
13/02/1713m 43s

The Border Wall (Updated)

One week into his Presidency, Donald Trump signed an executive order to begin building a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Trump says it will be, “an impenetrable, physical, tall, powerful, beautiful, southern border wall.” But campaign slogans are easy. Reality is harder. In this episode, two stories about that border. And what happens when, instead of people crossing the border, the border crosses the people.
02/02/1716m 37s

Strange Fruit (Updated)

Finding artists willing to perform at Donald Trump’s inauguration proved harder than expected. Elton John, Celine Dion, Garth Brooks, Ice-T, and Kiss were among those reportedly invited. They all declined. Then there was British singer and X-factor winner Rebecca Ferguson. She said she would consider performing at the inauguration if she were allowed to sing the song Strange Fruit. On the podcast, we tell the story behind Strange Fruit. It begins with three men in a jail cell in Marion, Indiana. It ends with two deaths, one life spared, and a photograph that has become the most iconic image of lynching in America. A warning, this story contains some disturbing and graphic descriptions of the lynching.
19/01/1718m 13s

Busman’s Holiday

The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947, left his regular route in the Bronx, and drove his municipal bus down to Florida. This story originally aired on This American Life. *** Radio Diaries is a non-profit organization. We couldn’t do this work without support from our listeners. If you like this podcast, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution before December 31st. Go to www.radiodiaries.org to donate.  
20/12/1620m 26s

The Working Tapes – Part 4

A new story from our series The Working Tapes. In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel interviewed the owners of Duke & Lee’s Auto Repair in Geneva, Illinois for his book Working. He went to talk to them about fixing cars. What he found was a story about fathers and sons working together… and the tensions within a family business. We at Radio Diaries, went back to Duke & Lee’s four decades later and found the family business still intact — tensions at all. Studs recorded more than 130 interviews for Working, but most of them have never been heard. A few years ago, Radio Diaries and Project& were given access to all the raw field recordings and combed through the archive to produce, The Working Tapes. Find Parts 1 – 3 of that series on past episodes of the Radio Diaries Podcast. *** We’ve just launched our year-end fundraising campaign and we’re asking for your support. This year we’ve celebrated our 20th anniversary and some of our biggest stories to date including Majd’s Diary: Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl. Next year we’ll be producing two new diaries and new stories from our series The History of Now. Radio Diaries is a non-profit organization, we couldn’t do this work without the support of our listeners. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation and THANK YOU!
06/12/1612m 13s

March of the Bonus Army

Author James Baldwin once wrote, “I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason: I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.” Criticism — and dissent — are patriotic. In fact, one of the most important strands of the American DNA, is protest. From the Boston Tea Party, to the Republican Tea Party. From Civil Rights marches to Occupy Wall Street. But it’s how the government and the institutions of power respond to dissent that is really the test of any democracy. On this episode of Radio Diaries, we go back to 1932 when a group of World War I veterans set up an encampment in Washington D.C. and vowed to stay until their voices were heard. It was a remarkable chapter in American history, and a demonstration of the power of citizens to come together for a cause. But, in the end, it didn’t turn out so well.
22/11/1616m 54s

The Song that Crossed Party Lines

This election season, our country seems more politically divided than ever. The race has been so ugly that it’s hard to even imagine a time when Republicans and Democrats could agree on anything at all. In this podcast episode, we’re going back more than 75 years, to another hard-fought election. In 1940, FDR squared off against Wendell Willkie. And during the campaign, the Republicans, the Democrats, and even the Communist Party managed to agree on one thing: A song. It was an unlikely hit. The song was a kind of folk opera, sung by a Black man, that ran 10 minutes. But whether you were on the left or the right, the song’s populist message had something for everyone. It debuted on a national radio broadcast, on November 5, 1939. Producer Ben Shapiro brings us the story of “Ballad for Americans.” *** Additional music in this episode comes from the band Broke for Free. *** Harry’s Razors is offering a special deal to our listeners. Receive a free “shave balm” when you enter the code DIARIES at www.Harrys.com.
04/11/1615m 36s

The Working Tapes – Part 3

A private eye, a jockey, a hotel piano player….voices from The Working Tapes. In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs for his book, “Working.” It was a surprise bestseller. But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before. For decades, the reel-to-reel tapes were packed away in Terkel’s home office. Over the past year, Radio Diaries, along with Project&, combed through them to produce this series. *** There are only 3 days left to contribute to the Radiotopia annual fundraising campaign! Radiotopia is the podcast collective that we belong to. Even a $1/month donation will make a big difference. If we reach 5000 new donors, our sponsor, FreshBooks, will contribute $40K to the network. So please donate to Radiotopia today. http://radiotopia.fm
25/10/1618m 18s

The Working Tapes – Part 2

A Chicago police officer, a female advertising executive, a gravedigger……voices from The Working Tapes. In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs for his book, “Working.” It was a surprise bestseller. But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before. For decades, the reel-to-reel tapes were packed away in Terkel’s home office. Over the past year, Radio Diaries, along with Project&, combed through them to produce a new NPR series. This is the second episode of a three-part podcast series on The Working Tapes. Also – our podcast collective, Radiotopia, is in the middle of its annual fundraiser. If you’re a fan of the work we do, please show your love! Donate at http://radiotopia.fm This episode is sponsored by FreshBooks and The Grommet. FreshBooks is offering a 30 day free trial to our listeners. To claim it, go to http://www.FreshBooks.com/Diaries and enter Radio Diaries in the “How Did You Hear About Us?” section. And visit http://www.TheGrommet.com/Diaries to receive $10 off your first $50 purchase.
12/10/1618m 53s

The Working Tapes – Part 1

An auto union worker, a switchboard telephone operator, a press agent… In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs for his book, “Working.” It was a surprise bestseller. But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before. For decades, the reel-to-reel tapes were packed away in Terkel’s home office. Over the past year, Radio Diaries, along with Project&, combed through them to produce a new NPR series. This is the first of a three-part podcast series on The Working Tapes. Also – please fill out this survey to let us know what you think of our podcast! http://surveynerds.com/diaries
30/09/1617m 39s

The Working Tapes – A Preview

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. The result was a book called “Working.” It became a bestseller and even inspired a Broadway musical… something rare for an oral history collection. “Working” struck a nerve, because it elevated the stories of ordinary people and their daily lives. But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before. For decades, the reel-to-reel tapes were packed away in Terkel’s home office. Over the past year, Radio Diaries, along with Project&, combed through them to produce a new radio series. “Working: Then & Now” runs from Sept 25 – October 2 on NPR, and in upcoming episodes of the Radio Diaries Podcast. This episode is a sneak peek of the Working Tapes. Also – please fill out this survey to let us know what you think of our podcast! http://surveynerds.com/diaries
24/09/1612m 43s

From Flint to Rio

2012 marked the first year that women boxers were allowed to compete in the Summer Olympics. Our audio diary followed Claressa Shields, a 17-year-old from Flint, Michigan, with a dream — to become the first American woman to win Olympic gold in boxing. And she did just that. But how much does a gold medal really change things for a teenager in Flint?
27/07/1626m 14s

Contenders: The Veep

Harry S. Truman once wrote that the President of the United States is a “glorified public relations man who spends his time flattering, kissing and kicking people to get them to do what they are supposed to do anyway.” And yet, it’s a job that people spend millions of dollars trying to get. Alben Barkley certainly wanted the job. He was in Congress for 40 years, but Barkley never made it to the pinnacle of power. He got close – he was our country’s 35th Vice President, serving under Harry S. Truman. Throughout American history, only 14 VPs have ever gone on to the presidency. The rest have been mostly forgotten. And not many people would remember the name Alben Barkley, except for two things: his nickname, the “Veep,” and the remarkable circumstances of his death. This is the third – and final – episode of our mini-series, Contenders: Portraits of Some of the most Groundbreaking and Unusual Presidential Candidates who Never Won the White House.
14/07/1611m 21s

Contenders: Say it Like You Mean it

Throughout American history, one of the most important job qualifications for the office of President has been knowing how to talk. You have to be able to deliver a speech that will rally the people. For Lincoln it was: “Four score and seven years ago,” FDR had: “A date which will live in infamy.” JFK asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you…” You get the idea. But one of the most influential speeches in American political history is one most people have never even heard of: William Jennings Bryan’s “Cross of Gold” speech. In this episode, we bring you the story of Bryan’s epic speech, plus the story of the presidential campaign of 1952 when a fondness for oratory doomed the candidacy of Adlai Stevenson. This is the second episode in our 3-part series, Contenders: Portraits of some of the most groundbreaking and unusual presidential candidates — who never won the White House.
07/07/1620m 14s

Contenders: Women Who Fought for the White House

If Hillary Clinton wins in November, she will become the first female President in American history. But she is not the first woman to seek this office. Today, we look back at three of the most groundbreaking female presidential candidates — who never won the White House. This is the first in our 3-part series: Contenders.
24/06/1628m 4s

Majd’s Diary: Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl

Majd Abdulghani is a teenager living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. She wants to be a scientist. Her family wants to arrange her marriage. From the age of 19 to 21, Majd has been chronicling her life with a microphone, taking us inside a society where the voices of women are rarely heard. She records herself practicing karate, conducting experiments in a genetics lab, and fending off pressure to accept an arranged marriage. In her audio diary, Majd documents everything from arguments with her brother about how much she should cover herself in front of men, to late night thoughts about loneliness, arranged marriages, and the possibility of true love.
01/06/1633m 15s

A Mother, Then and Now

In celebration of Mother’s Day and Radio Diaries’ 20th anniversary this month, we’re revisiting Melissa’s story. As an 18 year old, Melissa recorded an audio diary as she gave birth to her son Issaiah. Over the next two decades, Melissa and her son faced many challenges, from eviction notices to a life-threatening medical diagnosis. Melissa recently recorded a new “grown-up” diary chronicling her life as a single working mother and introducing listeners to teenage Issaiah. In this episode, listen to both of her diaries and a behind-the-scenes interview.
28/04/1641m 51s

Radio Diaries Turns 20!

20 years ago, NPR’s All Things Considered began running our occasional series, Teenage Diaries… which then grew up to become Radio Diaries. Today on the podcast, we check in with our very first diarist, Amanda Brand.
08/04/1621m 30s

The Man in the Zoo

In 1906, New York’s Bronx Zoo was the largest zoo in the world. That year, the zoo introduced a new exhibit that would quickly became its most popular attraction. In the monkey house, right next to an orangutan, there was a man…inside a cage.
25/03/1612m 51s

Claudette Colvin: “A Teenage Rosa Parks”

Nine months before Rosa Parks, a 15-year-old girl refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, AL.
02/03/1611m 45s

Identical Strangers

Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were both born in New York City and adopted as infants. When they were 35 years old, they met and found they were “identical strangers.”
18/02/1617m 35s

Frankie’s Second Chance (Updated)

As a teenager, Frankie was a high school football star whose picture was in his hometown newspaper every week. Years after graduating, Frankie was back in the paper—as a criminal. In his new audio diary, Frankie is hoping for a second chance.
05/02/1630m 34s

Friday Night Lights

“In the seventh grade, I was real little, probably weighed 75 pounds. Everybody used to pick on me all the time. They picked on me and beat the crap out of me everyday…Then one day, my ninth grade year, I decided to play football. Now, at school, I can’t go out in the hall without somebody touching me and saying, ‘Hey Frankie, good luck tonight.’ I mean it’s just crazy. I can’t believe everybody likes me as much as they do. It’s like the old me is dead and then I was born again or something.” In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, hear Frankie’s story from “Teenage Diaries.”
22/01/1618m 44s

The Ski Troops of WWII

The 10th Mountain Division fought in World War II for only four months, but it had one of the highest casualty rates of the war. The division started out as an experiment to train skiers and climbers to fight in the mountains. The men of the 10th went on to lead a series of daring assaults against the German army in the mountains of Italy.
07/01/1624m 14s

From Prison to President

Four years after Nelson Mandela was released from prison, he became president of South Africa. And yet, those 4 years were among the bloodiest and most painful for all South Africans – black and white – as they struggled toward the transition to majority rule. On the Radio Diaries Podcast we’ve been revisiting chapters from our documentary series, Mandela: An Audio History. In this episode, we bring you “From Prison to President.” Plus, a bonus chapter about what might have been the most awkward lunch in history. We couldn’t make these stories without your help. Please consider making a donation to Radio Diaries at radiodiaries.org. Thank you!
24/12/1520m 4s

The Last Place

When you spend so much of your life getting to the next stage, thinking about the next move, what is it like to find yourself at…the Last Place? On this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, we bring you audio diaries from a retirement home. If you enjoy this podcast, please help us reach our year-end fundraising goal! Every dollar will help us produce more stories. Donate at radiodiaries.org
03/12/1530m 31s

A Guitar, A Cello, And The Day That Changed Music

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men – an ocean apart – sat before a microphone and began to play. One was a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain; the other played guitar and was a regular in the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta. But on this day, Pablo Casals and Robert Johnson both made recordings that would change music history.
19/11/1517m 10s

The Story of ‘Ballad for Americans’

How a ten minute operatic folk cantata managed to unite Democrats, Republicans and Communists.
05/11/1513m 9s

Serving 9-5: Diaries from Prison Guards

Polk Youth Institution in Butner, North Carolina is a prison for young men between the ages of 19-25. For our series Prison Diaries, I gave tape recorders to a handful of inmates at Polk to tell the story of life behind bars. After visiting the prison for a few months, I realized I had been overlooking the stories of the guards. Pretty much every guard I talked to said they serve time too – in eight hour shifts. In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, listen to the audio diaries of prison guards.
22/10/1524m 3s

The Man Who Put the ‘P’ in NPR

One of the best mission statements we’ve ever read is the original NPR mission, which was written in 1969 by Bill Siemering. Bill is an amazing guy who, at the age of 80, continues to help create radio stations and programs in developing countries around the world. The manifesto Bill wrote is no longer NPR’s official mission statement but it’s a lovely reminder of why we do this work. It’s truly worth reading. Here at Radio Diaries we like history – including our own. So with help from the good folks at Transom.org, we brought Bill into a studio because we were curious how he came to write that original mission statement, and why. We asked him to look back at the history of public media, and to imagine the future. We also asked him to read part of that original NPR mission statement. You can also read a transcript of our conversation at Transom.org, thanks to Jay Allison, Sydney Lewis and Samantha Broun. If you don’t know about Transom…go there as soon as you can. It’s like a master class in radio storytelling.
08/10/1521m 46s

Crime Pays

This month’s podcast is about what it takes to get people to change. We focus on a group of people that might be the hardest to change – or at least they’ve had the most money thrown at them in hopes of change: Criminals. Back in 2006, Richmond, CA was named the ninth most dangerous city in the country, with 42 murders for a population of about 100,000. Then they brought in a new police chief and started doing all kinds of things differently. And it worked. Homicides are now a third of what they were. Crime has dropped in a way that is dramatic and impressive. And police say that one of the things that helped is a program called the Office of Neighborhood Safety, or ONS. That’s a bland name for what is actually a very unusual program with one particular tactic that you do not hear about people trying very often: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds crazy, but the even crazier part is…it works. This story originally aired on This American Life, in the episode, The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind. Thanks to Ira Glass and the entire staff of This American Life for their help on this story.
11/09/1522m 10s

Strange Fruit

“Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck, for the rain to gather, for the wind to suck, for the sun to rot, for a tree to drop. Here is a strange and bitter crop.” -Abel Meeropol Poet and songwriter Abel Meeropol wrote that lament after seeing a photograph of two black teenagers hanging from a tree, after being lynched in Marion, Indiana, on August 7, 1930. Meeropol’s song, “Strange Fruit” was later made famous by Billie Holiday. A secret, missing from the photograph, is that a third black boy was supposed to die that fateful day. James Cameron is believed to be the only African American to have survived a lynching. Listen to our story (and be advised that it is disturbing.)
06/08/1517m 5s

Mandela’s Prison Years

While Mandela and other political leaders languished in prison, the government cracked down. It seemed that resistance to apartheid had been crushed. But on June 16, 1976, a student uprising in Soweto sparked a new generation of activism. This is Chapter 3 of our documentary (and 2015 Audiobook of the Year) Mandela: An Audio History. Plus, the story behind the only known recording of Nelson Mandela during his 27 years in prison. More information about the project is available at mandelahistory.org
09/07/1517m 51s

A Visit to the Memory Palace

Big, happy announcement: The Memory Palace is the newest member of Radiotopia! To celebrate, we bring you an episode from The Memory Palace, by Nate DiMeo. It’s the story of Guglielmo Marconi, sometimes called the inventor of radio…and his dreams of a super-radio that would allow him to hear every sound ever made. We pair Marconi’s story with our sound portrait of Frank Schubert, the last civilian lighthouse keeper in the U.S.
18/06/1511m 50s

Matthew and the Judge

We gave both Judge Jeremiah, a Rhode Island juvenile court judge, and Matthew, a 16-year-old repeat offender, tape recorders. Judge Jeremiah released Matthew early, for good behavior. Two weeks later, Matthew was arrested again for selling drugs. Through their diaries, Matthew and the judge tell the same story from two different sides of the bench.
05/06/1520m 5s

Seeing the Forrest Through the Little Trees

The Education of Little Tree is an iconic best-selling book, with a message about living in harmony with nature, and compassion for people of all kinds. But there’s a very different story behind the book. It begins with the most infamous racist political speech in American History. This week on the Radio Diaries Podcast, the true story of the untrue story of The Education of Little Tree.
22/05/1533m 2s

The Traveling Electric Chair

Bridgette McGee grew up knowing nothing about her grandfather, Willie McGee. Now she is on a quest to unearth everything she can about his life – and his death. In 1945, Willie McGee was accused of raping a white woman. The all-white jury took less than three minutes to find him guilty and McGee was sentenced to death. Over the next six years, the case went through three trials and sparked international protests and appeals from Albert Einstein, William Faulkner, Paul Robeson, and Josephine Baker. McGee was defended by a young Bella Abzug arguing her first major case. But in 1951, McGee was put to death in Mississippi’s traveling electric chair. His execution was broadcast live by a local radio station. Today, a newly discovered recording of that broadcast provides a chilling window into a lost episode of civil rights history. Narrated by Bridgette McGee, this documentary follows a granddaughter’s search for the truth about a case that has been called a real-life To Kill A Mockingbird.
07/05/1530m 40s

From Bullets to Balance Sheets

As a teenager, Kamari Ridgle was a drug dealer and drive-by shooter until a near-death experience led him to his true love…accounting. Let us know what you think of the Radio Diaries Podcast. Take this 5-minute survey and you could win a pair of Tivoli headphones! surveynerds.com/diaries
25/04/1510m 55s

The Square Deal

When George F. Johnson died, the nation witnessed one of the largest funerals in U.S. history. What did Johnson do? He made shoes. Lots of them. 100 years ago, the Endicott Johnson Corporation, headquartered in upstate New York, was the largest shoe factory in the world. But George F. Johnson wasn’t only famous for his shoes. He also became known for his views on how a company should treat its workers. Some people called it “welfare capitalism.” Johnson had a different name for it: The Square Deal. If you’re a fan of the Radio Diaries Podcast – and you want a chance to win a pair of Tivoli headphones – please fill out our listener survey at surveynerds.com/diaries Thanks!
02/04/1518m 38s

Fly Girls

In the early 1940s, the US Airforce faced a dilemma. Thousands of new airplanes were coming off assembly lines and needed to be delivered to military bases nationwide, yet most of America’s pilots were overseas fighting the war. To solve the problem, the government launched an experimental program to train women pilots. They were known as the WASPs, the Women Airforce Service Pilots. Please take our listener survey! http://www.surveynerds.com/diaries
19/03/1525m 9s

Claudette Colvin – A “Teenage Rosa Parks”

What makes a hero? Why do we remember some stories and not others? Consider Claudette Colvin. She was a 15-year-old girl in the segregated city of Montgomery, Alabama. On March 2, 1955, she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. Nine months later, Rosa Parks did the exact same thing. Parks, of course, became a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement. But Claudette Colvin has largely been left out of the history books.
05/03/1511m 45s

First Kiss

Josh Cutler has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. In this episode, listen to his teenage diary about getting his first kiss. “What I have here is an envelope on which this girl Nicole wrote down instructions on how to kiss. It says: ‘pucker lips, slowly open mouth, slowly slide tongue in, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.’ She made that list for me because I made out with her and she said I was doing it wrong. So I guess that’s the main thing I learned this summer.”
12/02/1520m 39s

The Greatest Songwriter You’ve Never Heard Of

You probably don’t know her name, but you definitely know her songs. Rose Marie McCoy passed away recently at the age of 92. On this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering Rose and her music.
03/02/1517m 20s

George Wallace and the Legacy of a Sentence

If you’ve seen the movie Selma, our new podcast features two people who are important characters in the film: Representative John Lewis, the civil rights leader who was brutally beaten while crossing the Edmund Pettus Bridge; and Alabama Governor George Wallace, who ordered his state troopers to stop the march. Our story takes place a few years before the Selma march, on the day of Wallace’s inauguration as governor in 1963. As he stepped up to the podium, Wallace delivered one of the most vehement rallying cries against racial equality in American history: “Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever.”
23/01/1512m 52s

The View from the 79th Floor

On July 28, 1945 an Army bomber pilot on a routine ferry mission found himself lost in the fog over Manhattan. A dictation machine in a nearby office happened to capture the sound of the plane as it hit the Empire State Building at the 79th floor. Find out what happened next in this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast.
08/01/1516m 39s

Miss Subways

Beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl. Each month starting in 1941, a young woman was elected “Miss Subways,” and her face gazed down on transit riders as they rode through the city. Her photo was accompanied by a short bio describing her hopes, dreams and aspirations. The public got to choose the winners – so Miss Subway represented the perfect New York miss. She was also a barometer of changing times. Miss Subways was one of the first integrated beauty pageants in America. An African-American Miss Subways was selected in 1948 – more than thirty years before there was a black Miss America. By the 1950s there were Miss Subways who were black, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic – the faces of New York’s female commuters. In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, meet the Miss Subways.
22/12/1410m 56s

Last Man on the Mountain – Updated

A few years ago, we produced a story about the greatest underdog we’d ever met: Jimmy Weekley. Jimmy was the last remaining resident of Pigeonroost Hollow, West Virginia. Jimmy spent most of the last two decades fighting one of the largest coal companies in the country in an attempt to save his hometown. He said he was born in Pigeonroost Hollow, and he planned to die there. This year, he did. He was 74. Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering Jimmy Weekley, The Last Man on the Mountain.
11/12/1416m 23s

Busman’s Holiday

The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947, left his regular route in the Bronx, and drove his municipal bus down to Florida.
13/11/1420m 7s

Weasel’s Diary, Revisited

Jose William Huezo Soriano – aka Weasel – is a 26-year-old Los Angeles resident who gets deported to his parents’ home country of El Salvador, which he has not seen since the age of five. In this episode, you’ll hear Weasel’s original audio diary, as well as an update from Weasel in which he talks about his life over the past 15 years.
07/11/1434m 12s

When Ground Zero was Radio Row

For more than four decades, the area around Cortlandt Street in lower Manhattan was the largest collection of radio and electronics stores in the world. Then in 1966 the stores were bulldozed to make way for the new World Trade Center.  
17/10/1416m 24s

When Borders Move

What happens when, instead of people crossing the border, the border crosses the people? In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, two stories from the U.S.-Mexico border.
06/10/1415m 55s

Working, Then and Now

In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country, tape recorder in hand, interviewing people about their jobs. Studs collected more than 130 interviews, and the result was a book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” And – something unprecedented for an oral history collection – it became a bestseller. In this episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast, we bring you two of the lost interviews that never made it into the book: Helen Moog, a taxi driver and grandmother of five who happened to drive Studs to the Youngstown, OH airport; and Lovin’ Al Pommier, a “car hiker.”
01/09/1414m 42s

Strange Fruit – Voices of a Lynching

The images coming out of Ferguson, MO this summer have reminded us of another upsetting image of race in America. It’s a photograph that was taken just a few hours from Ferguson, but eight decades ago…and it inspired the Billie Holiday song, Strange Fruit. Listen to our story (and be advised that it is disturbing.)
25/08/1417m 5s

The Gospel Ranger

This is the story of a song, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down,” written by a 12-year-old boy on his deathbed. A boy who – instead of dying – went on to become a Pentecostal preacher. A boy who would later help inspire the birth of Rock & Roll. His name was Brother Claude Ely…and he was known as The Gospel Ranger.
17/07/1417m 11s

“Halfrican” Revisited

When Jeff Rogers was 16 years old he started referring to himself as a “halfrican.” Jeff has a black father and a white mother. And like many teenagers, he was trying to figure out who he was. We met Jeff back in 1998, and gave him a tape recorder so he could document his life for our Teenage Diaries series. We started thinking about Jeff when we produced our Teenage Diaries Revisited series last year for NPR. On today’s show, Jeff’s original teenage diary, plus…a conversation we recently had with him, more than 15 years later.
23/06/1421m 32s

Walter the Seltzerman – It’s Not Easy Being Last

Back in 1919, Walter Backerman’s grandfather delivered seltzer by horse and wagon on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Today, Walter continues to deliver seltzer around the streets of New York. Some customers, like Mildred Blitz, have been on the family route for more than 50 years. When Walter’s grandfather drove his cart there were thousands of seltzer men in the city; today Walter is one of the last.
02/06/1414m 57s

The Long Shadow of Forrest Carter

Asa Carter was a speechwriter for Alabama Governor George Wallace. He penned one of the most infamous speeches of the era… Wallace’s Segregation Now, Segregation Forever address. Forrest Carter was a Cherokee writer who grew up in Tennessee. His autobiography, The Education of Little Tree, is a beloved classic that has sold millions of copies around the world. But these two men shared a secret.
12/05/1418m 19s

The Day Nelson Mandela Became Nelson Mandela

The moment Nelson Mandela really became Nelson Mandela was on April 20th, 1964 – fifty years ago today. It happened when he stood up in a stuffy South African courtroom and gave a speech. 50 years is a long time. It’s long enough for things to become history.  Long enough that people start to be forgotten, stories get smoothed over, narratives get hardened in stone. That’s what happened this past December with the death of Nelson Mandela. His life story was written… in sharpie.
20/04/1419m 50s

Frankie’s Teenage Diary, Revisited

As a teenager, Frankie Lewchuck recorded an audio diary about his family in rural Alabama. 16 years later, he recorded a follow up story for the Teenage Diaries Revisited series: “I went from being on the front page for football, representing my itty-bitty school, to being on the front page as a thief and a meth head.” A lot of life happens in 16 years.
20/03/1432m 21s

Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair

On the night of May 7th, 1951, in the small town of Laurel, Mississippi, close to a thousand people gathered around the courthouse. They came to witness an execution. Willie McGee was a young black man who had been accused of raping a white woman… and sentenced to death. Six decades later, Bridgette McGee teamed up with Radio Diaries to find the truth about what happened to her grandfather.
18/02/1430m 40s

Teenage Diaries Revisited 1-Hour Special

Back in the 1990s, Radio Diaries producer Joe Richman gave tape recorders to a handful of teens and asked them to report on their own lives. Now, 16 years later, Joe checks back in with them.
13/01/1458m 48s

A Guitar, A Cello, and the Day that Changed Music

What would it sound like if one of the world’s greatest classical cellists, and the most legendary blues guitarist of all time…jammed together?
20/12/1317m 10s

Mandela: An Audio History

An award-winning radio series documenting the struggle against apartheid through intimate first-person accounts of Nelson Mandela himself, as well as those who fought with him, and against him. Hosted by Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
05/12/131h 1m

The Last Man on the Mountain

In the 1990s, Arch Coal began mountaintop removal mining in a corner of West Virginia called Pigeonroost Hollow. There used to be dozens of houses in the area, but now there is just one. It belongs to Jimmy Weekley.
14/11/1317m 15s

The View From the 79th Floor

On July 28, 1945 an army bomber pilot on a routine ferry mission found himself lost in the fog over Manhattan. Stories from the day a plane crashed into the Empire State Building.
16/10/1316m 39s

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Juan

16 years ago, Juan reported on his life as a recent Mexican immigrant living in poverty in Texas. In his new diary, Juan takes us on a tour of the life he has built since he first crossed the Rio Grande. It looks a lot like the typical American dream: a house, 2 cars, 3 kids—except for the fact he’s still living illegally in the U.S. In this podcast, listen to Juan’s diaries as well as a conversation about the recording process with producer Joe Richman.
19/08/1331m 39s

Burma ’88: Buried History

25 years ago, university students in Burma sparked a countrywide uprising. They called for a nationwide strike on 8/8/88, a date they chose for its numerological power.
08/08/1315m 43s

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa

As an 18-year-old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Issaiah. Over the past 16 years Melissa and her son have faced many challenges, from eviction notices to her son’s life-threatening medical diagnosis. In this podcast episode, listen to Melissa’s Teenage Diary and her new ‘grown-up’ diary from Teenage Diaries Revisited. Plus, Joe interviews Melissa about the process of documenting her life over the years.
12/06/1342m 16s

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Josh

In high school, Josh documented his life with Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. Today, Josh has overcome Tourette’s enough to become a NYC public school teacher, but not enough to remain one. In this episode, listen to Josh’s audio diaries about trying to live a normal life with a brain that often betrays him. Plus, an interview between Josh and Radio Diaries producer Joe Richman.
30/05/1342m 38s

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Amanda

At the age of 17, Amanda knew she was gay. But her parents kept insisting she’d grow out of it. Today, a lot has changed in the country, and within her own family. 16 years later, Amanda goes back to her parents to find out how they came to accept having a daughter who is gay.
17/05/1319m 55s
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