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Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries & Radiotopia

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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 keeper...Show More

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#30: Claudette Colvin: “A Teenage Rosa Parks”

12:34 | Mar 2nd, 2016

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.

#12: Frankie’s Second Chance (Updated)

33:20 | Feb 5th, 2016

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.

#18: Strange Fruit

19:14 | Aug 6th, 2015

James Cameron is the only person known to have survived a lynching. This is his story. And this is also the story of the white residents of Marion, Indiana who witnessed or took part in the fateful events of August 7, 1930. In the 1970’s, some of the...Show More

#34: Seeing the Forrest Through the Little Trees

34:14 | May 22nd, 2015

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 polit...Show More

#22: Weasel’s Diary, Revisited

34:21 | Nov 7th, 2014

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...Show More

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

17:14 | Nov 15th

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 ...Show More

The Song That Crossed Party Lines

13:31 | Nov 1st

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 h...Show More

#81: Campaigning While Female

28:43 | Oct 18th

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 momen...Show More

#40: Serving Time 9-5: Diaries from Prison Guards

24:17 | Oct 4th

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...Show More

#35: Matthew and the Judge

21:18 | Sep 20th

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.

#80: Prisoners of War

22:01 | Aug 29th

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 th...Show More

#79: Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima

15:41 | Aug 6th

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...Show More

#8: Nelson Mandela at 100

1:02:26 | Jul 17th

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 ac...Show More

#23: Busman’s Holiday

21:54 | Jun 21st

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.

#78: Last Witness: The General Slocum

19:03 | Jun 14th

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 immigran...Show More

#77: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

22:01 | May 31st

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 estimat...Show More

#31: Fly Girls

25:47 | May 3rd

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 probl...Show More

#61: Strange Fruit, Revisited

18:00 | Apr 19th

James Cameron is the only known person to have survived a lynching in America.

#38: Crime Pays

23:19 | Apr 6th

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.

#76: The Green Book

20:40 | Mar 22nd

A guide to "traveling while Black" during Jim Crow. A story from our friends and fellow Radiotopians at 99% Invisible.

#22: Deported: Weasel’s Diary

33:31 | Mar 8th

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.

#30: Nine Months Before Rosa Parks

11:45 | Feb 28th

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 Park...Show More

#75: A Voicemail Valentine

14:26 | Feb 14th

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 se...Show More

#74: The Story of Jane

14:28 | Jan 19th

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...Show More

#73: The Dropped Wrench

40:31 | Dec 23rd, 2017

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.

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

34:18 | Nov 21st, 2017

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 wi...Show More

#72: Under the Radar

15:46 | Nov 2nd, 2017

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.

#71: Juan’s Story, Live at the Moth

30:09 | Oct 23rd, 2017

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...Show More

#34: The Two Lives of Asa Carter

33:02 | Oct 5th, 2017

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 peopl...Show More

#42: The Last Place

30:31 | Sep 21st, 2017

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? In this episode, we bring you audio diaries from a retirement home.

#70: The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel (Hour Special)

58:26 | Sep 3rd, 2017

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 the...Show More

#11: Willie McGee and The Traveling Electric Chair

30:40 | Aug 17th, 2017

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 prot...Show More

#25: Miss Subways

10:54 | Jul 27th, 2017

Most beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But this contest celebrated something different: the everyday working girl.

#69: Mexico ’68 and the Tlatelolco Massacre

26:04 | Jun 27th, 2017

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 s...Show More

#68: The Rubber Room

31:39 | Jun 2nd, 2017

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 wa...Show More

#67: The Oddest Town in America

11:30 | May 19th, 2017

In the 1940s, Gibsonton became a hub for carnival sideshow performers in the off season. The fire chief was Al Tomaini the giant. The deputy of police was a dwarf. The sideshow fat man was also the town's auto mechanic. And Gibsonton had the only pos...Show More

#66: Radio Diaries Live at the Moth

25:45 | May 4th, 2017

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 T...Show More

#17: The Gospel Ranger

17:17 | Apr 13th, 2017

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....Show More

#65: Remembering Robben Island

11:29 | Mar 31st, 2017

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 ...Show More

#64: The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski

24:46 | Mar 16th, 2017

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...Show More

#22: Weasel’s Diary, Revisited

34:06 | Mar 2nd, 2017

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...Show More

#63: The Last Civil War Widows

13:43 | Feb 13th, 2017

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 ...Show More

#62: The Border Wall (Updated)

16:37 | Feb 2nd, 2017

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 ...Show More

#61: Strange Fruit (Updated)

18:13 | Jan 19th, 2017

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 w...Show More

#23: Busman’s Holiday

20:26 | Dec 20th, 2016

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.

#60: The Working Tapes – Part 4

12:13 | Dec 6th, 2016

A new story from our series The Working Tapes. In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went to interview 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 ...Show More

#59: March of the Bonus Army

16:54 | Nov 22nd, 2016

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 importa...Show More

#58: The Song that Crossed Party Lines

17:31 | Nov 4th, 2016

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...Show More

#57: The Working Tapes – Part 3

21:23 | Oct 25th, 2016

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 ...Show More

#56: The Working Tapes – Part 2

22:10 | Oct 12th, 2016

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 h...Show More

#55: The Working Tapes – Part 1

19:56 | Sep 30th, 2016

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 surpr...Show More

#54: The Working Tapes – A Preview

14:52 | Sep 24th, 2016

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... somethin...Show More

#53: From Flint to Rio

26:40 | Jul 27th, 2016

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 boxi...Show More

#52: Contenders: The Veep

13:02 | Jul 14th, 2016

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 peopl...Show More

#51: Contenders: Say it Like You Mean it

21:25 | Jul 7th, 2016

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 a...Show More

#50: Contenders: Women Who Fought for the White House

29:14 | Jun 24th, 2016

Portraits of some of the most groundbreaking and unusual presidential candidates -- who never won the White House. This is the first in our 3-part series: Contenders.

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

35:49 | Jun 1st, 2016

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 wi...Show More

#3: A Mother, Then and Now

44:52 | Apr 28th, 2016

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 f...Show More

#48: Radio Diaries Turns 20!

22:20 | Apr 8th, 2016

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.

#47: The Man in the Zoo

13:54 | Mar 25th, 2016

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.

#46: Identical Strangers

19:33 | Feb 18th, 2016

What is it that makes us...us? DNA or life experience? Genes or environment? Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein share 100 percent of their DNA. Separated at birth, the twins were both adopted and raised by loving families. They met for the first time ...Show More

#45: Friday Night Lights

20:42 | Jan 22nd, 2016

“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 c...Show More

#44: The Ski Troops of WWII

26:30 | Jan 7th, 2016

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 wen...Show More

#43: From Prison to President

23:56 | Dec 24th, 2015

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 majo...Show More

#42: The Last Place

34:26 | Dec 3rd, 2015

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.

#9: A Guitar, A Cello, And The Day That Changed Music

20:07 | Nov 19th, 2015

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 ...Show More

#41: The Story of ‘Ballad for Americans’

15:49 | Nov 5th, 2015

How a ten minute operatic folk cantata managed to unite Democrats, Republicans and Communists.

#40: Serving 9-5: Diaries from Prison Guards

28:44 | Oct 22nd, 2015

Audio diaries from officers who work behind bars at North Carolina's Polk Youth Institution.

#39: The Man Who Put the ‘P’ in NPR

24:23 | Oct 8th, 2015

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 ar...Show More

#38: Crime Pays

23:52 | Sep 11th, 2015

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 ...Show More

#37: Mandela’s Prison Years

19:26 | Jul 9th, 2015

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 Cha...Show More

#36: A Visit to the Memory Palace

14:13 | Jun 18th, 2015

Today we bring you an episode from The Memory Palace. 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 so...Show More

#35: Matthew and the Judge

22:24 | Jun 5th, 2015

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. Thr...Show More

#11: The Traveling Electric Chair

29:18 | May 7th, 2015

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 ...Show More

#33: From Bullets to Balance Sheets

12:35 | Apr 25th, 2015

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 Tivo...Show More

#32: The Square Deal

19:22 | Apr 2nd, 2015

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 ...Show More

#31: Fly Girls

27:56 | Mar 19th, 2015

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,...Show More

#30: Claudette Colvin – A “Teenage Rosa Parks”

13:39 | Mar 5th, 2015

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. ...Show More

#29: First Kiss

22:24 | Feb 12th, 2015

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 ...Show More

#28: The Greatest Songwriter You’ve Never Heard Of

18:35 | Feb 3rd, 2015

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. In the 1950's and early 1960's American ...Show More

#27: George Wallace and the Legacy of a Sentence

14:58 | Jan 23rd, 2015

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 Geo...Show More

#26: The View from the 79th Floor

19:38 | Jan 8th, 2015

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. F...Show More

#25: Miss Subways

13:00 | Dec 22nd, 2014

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 ri...Show More

#24: Last Man on the Mountain – Updated

17:43 | Dec 11th, 2014

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 com...Show More

#23: Busman’s Holiday

20:17 | Nov 13th, 2014

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.

#21: When Ground Zero was Radio Row

16:35 | Oct 17th, 2014

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.

#20: When Borders Move

16:13 | Oct 6th, 2014

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.

#19: Working, Then and Now

14:50 | Sep 1st, 2014

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 Abou...Show More

#18: Strange Fruit – Voices of a Lynching

18:50 | Aug 25th, 2014

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, Strang...Show More

#17: The Gospel Ranger

17:09 | Jul 17th, 2014

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....Show More

#16: “Halfrican” Revisited

21:31 | Jun 23rd, 2014

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 ...Show More

#15: Walter the Seltzerman – It’s Not Easy Being Last

15:05 | Jun 2nd, 2014

Once there were thousands of seltzer men in New York City. Today, Walter Backerman is one of the last. Support our Kickstarter campaign! bit.ly/RDKickstarter

Video Podcast: Help Kickstart Our New Season

2:30 | May 28th, 2014

Check out our Kickstarter video. (Ira Glass has a cameo...) If we reach our goal, we'll put out the Radio Diaries Podcast twice as often. Biweekly!

#14: The Long Shadow of Forrest Carter

32:58 | May 12th, 2014

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 auto...Show More

#13: The Day Nelson Mandela Became Nelson Mandela

19:46 | Apr 20th, 2014

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.

#12: Frankie’s Teenage Diary, Revisited

32:53 | Mar 20th, 2014

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 itt...Show More

#11: Willie McGee and the Traveling Electric Chair

29:31 | Feb 18th, 2014

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... ...Show More

#10: Teenage Diaries Revisited 1-Hour Special

58:40 | Jan 13th, 2014

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. 16 years later, Joe checks back in with them.

#9: A Guitar, A Cello, and the Day that Changed Music

17:06 | Dec 20th, 2013

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 ...Show More

#8: Mandela: An Audio History

1:01:02 | Dec 5th, 2013

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.

#7: The Last Man on the Mountain

16:21 | Nov 14th, 2013

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.

#6: The View From the 79th Floor

16:36 | Oct 16th, 2013

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.

#5: Teenage Diaries Revisited: Juan

31:30 | Aug 19th, 2013

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...Show More

#4: Burma ’88: Buried History

15:37 | Aug 8th, 2013

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.

#3: Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa

42:08 | Jun 12th, 2013

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 me...Show More

#2: Teenage Diaries Revisited: Josh

42:27 | May 30th, 2013

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 eno...Show More

#1: Teenage Diaries Revisited: Amanda

19:13 | May 17th, 2013

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 ha...Show More