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Since 1996, Radio Diaries has been giving people tape recorders and working with them to report on their own lives and histories. We’ve collaborated with teenagers and octogenarians, prisoners and prison guards, bra saleswomen and lighthouse keepers….and along the way we’ve helped pioneer a new form of citizen journalism. Our stories are broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered and BBC World Service. We also publish educational materials, including the Teen Reporter Handbook.

Joe Richman is the founder and Executive Producer of Radio Diaries, which is a not-for-profit organization. More information at radiodiaries.org.

Featured

Mexico '68: A Movement, A Massacre and the 40-Yr Search for the Truth

From Radio Diaries | 22:25

In the summer of 1968, students in Mexico began to challenge the country's authoritarian government. But the movement was short-lived, lasting less than three months. It ended on October 2, 1968, ten days before the opening of the Olympics in Mexico City, when military troops opened fire on a peaceful student demonstration. The shooting lasted over two hours. The next day the government sent in cleaners to wash the blood from the plaza floor.

The official announcement was that four students were dead, but eyewitnesses said hundreds were killed. The death toll was not the only thing the government covered up about that event.

The Massacre of Tlatelolco has become a defining moment in Mexican history, but for forty years the truth of that day has remained hidden.

Produced by Joe Richman and Anayansi Diaz-Cortes of Radio Diaries.

Rd_mex68_prx_small In the summer of 1968, Mexico was experiencing the birth of a new student movement.

But that movement was short-lived. On Oct. 2, 1968, 10 days before the opening of the Summer Olympics in Mexico City, police officers and military troops shot into a crowd of unarmed students. Thousands of demonstrators fled in panic as tanks bulldozed over Tlatelolco Plaza.

Government sources originally reported that four people had been killed and 20 wounded, while eyewitnesses described the bodies of hundreds of young people being trucked away. Thousands of students were beaten and jailed, and many disappeared. Forty years later, the final death toll remains a mystery, but documents recently released by the U.S. and Mexican governments give a better picture of what may have triggered the massacre. Those documents suggest that snipers posted by the military fired on fellow troops, provoking them to open fire on the students.

The Beginning Of A Movement

In 1968, student movements were breaking out all over the world — including in France, Germany, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Argentina, Japan and the United States.

Mexico, like many countries in the prosperous 1960s, had spawned a vibrant middle class that enjoyed a quality of life unimaginable in previous decades. These children of the Mexican Revolution that now lived in comfort were, for the first time, able to send their own children to university in unprecedented numbers.

The student movement got its start from a street fight between high school students after a football game. The students confronted the Mexico City riot police sent there to end the skirmish. After hours of student resistance, the army was called in to quench the violence. The siege ended when the soldiers blasted the main door of the National Preparatory School in San Ildefonso with a bazooka, killing some of the students in the building.

The National University oversaw the Preparatory School, so the involvement of university officials and students was inevitable. In the following hours, the students decided to organize and protest against the violence exerted by the riot police. Over the following months, Mexico City witnessed a series of student protests and rallies against repression and violence.

The Massacre

Students expected the government to give in to their demands, but they were greeted with a clear message from the president: "No more unrest will be tolerated." The army proceeded in the following days to seize the National University, with virtually no resistance from the students, and later the National Polytechnic Institute, with active and violent student resistance.

After these events, the students rapidly called for a new gathering on Oct. 2 at the Three Cultures Square in the Tlatelolco housing complex. Thousands of students showed up to get firsthand knowledge of the movement's next steps. As the gathering was ending, soldiers arrived to capture the movement's leaders. They were greeted by gunshots from the buildings surrounding the square. The troops then opened fire, turning the evening into a shooting that lasted nearly two hours.

Over the following days, the official account of the events would be that the students — infiltrated by communist forces — had fired on the army, and the soldiers had to fire back to defend themselves.

The 40-Year Search For The Truth

Under an authoritarian regime, no formal investigation into the killings was ever initiated. But a renewed hope to find the truth arrived in 2000 with the election of President Vicente Fox, who broke nearly 70 years of one-party rule. In November 2001, Fox ordered the creation of a "special prosecutor for crimes of the past" to investigate the Tlatelolco massacre. But little was uncovered about the killings or those killed.

The number of civilian casualties reported has ranged between four — in the official count directly after the event — and 3,000. Eyewitnesses recount seeing dozens of bodies and prisoners being trucked away to military bases. But despite efforts by both the student leaders and the special prosecutor to compile the names of the dead, only about 40 have been documented. No siblings, parents or friends of the remaining casualties — if they exist — have come forward to add names to the list.

But new information has come to light through the release of official documents. They reveal that the Presidential Guard — a branch of the military — had posted snipers in the buildings surrounding Tlatelolco Plaza on the day of the massacre. The idea was that the snipers would shoot at the troops posted around the square, and the troops would think student snipers were shooting at them — and then they would open fire.

Using the documents, first-person accounts and archival news reports, along with historic recordings — many of which have never been broadcast before — Radio Diaries has woven together a clearer picture of what happened on Oct. 2.

This story was produced by Joe Richman and Anayansi Diaz-Cortes of Radio Diaries. Thanks to George Lewis and NBC News for some of the audio used in this story.

Teen Contender

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 15:53

Boxing has been an Olympic sport since the time of the ancient Greeks. But only men have taken part. This year, that changes. For the first time ever, women will step into the ring at the 2012 summer Olympics in London. One of them is 16-year old Claressa Shields.

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Boxing has been an Olympic sport since the time of the ancient Greeks. But only men have taken part. This year, that changes. For the first time ever, women will step into the ring at the 2012 summer Olympics in London.

One of the Olympic contenders is 16-year old Claressa Shields, a junior at Northwestern High School in Flint, Michigan.

Sue Jaye Johnson and Joe Richman of Radio Diaries followed Claressa as she prepared for the Olympic trials. They also gave her a tape recorder to keep an audio diary of her life. This is her story.

This piece was produced by Joe Richman, Samara Freemark and Sue Jaye Johnson of Radio Diaries, with editors Deborah George and Ben Shapiro.

It’s a collaboration with WNYC’s Women Box Project. You can find photos and more about Claressa Shields – and many other women boxers –  at womenbox.com and radiodiaries.org.

Update: Claressa Shields is currently ranked #2 in the world in her wieght class! Her first Olympic fight will be August 5th.

For more updates follow us on twitter @radiodiaries

 

Gracie Allen: The Joke That Became a Campaign

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 05:12

In 1940 the United States was just emerging from the shadow of the Great Depression and war loomed in Europe. Into these serious times stepped Gracie Allen, part of the popular comic duo Burns and Allen, who launched a campaign for President. Allen’s ‘Surprise Party’ began as a publicity stunt, but during a whistle-stop tour across the country the campaign took on a life of its own. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Gracie-allen_001_l_small In 1940 the United States was just emerging from the shadow of the Great Depression and war loomed in Europe. Into these serious times stepped Gracie Allen, part of the popular comic duo Burns and Allen, who launched a campaign for President. Allen’s ‘Surprise Party’ began as a publicity stunt, but during a whistle-stop tour across the country the campaign took on a life of its own. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Adlai Stevenson: A Candidate in the Age of Television

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 07:36

The 1952 presidential campaign pitted the immensely popular General Dwight D. Eisenhower against the ferociously intellectual and intensely private Adlai Stevenson. It was an election fought on a new battleground: television. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Adlai-stevenson_001_l_small The 1952 presidential campaign pitted the immensely popular General Dwight D. Eisenhower against the ferociously intellectual and intensely private Adlai Stevenson. It was an election fought on a new battleground: television. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Margaret Chase Smith: Cold Warrior in Pearls

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 07:38

In 1964, Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman from a major party to run for President. The Republican Senator ran as a staunch hawk and expert on national defense while she handed out muffin recipes at campaign stops. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Margaret-smith_001_l_small In 1964, Margaret Chase Smith became the first woman from a major party to run for President. The Republican Senator ran as a staunch hawk and expert on national defense while she handed out muffin recipes at campaign stops. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org). 

The “Veep”

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 07:25

Alben Barkley served in Congress for close to 40 years and was Harry Truman’s vice president from 1948-1952. Though he wanted to be President himself, Barkley never made it to the pinnacle of power. Only 14 VP’s have gone on to the presidency; the majority have, for the most part, lapsed into relative obscurity once their term was over. Barkley, too, might have been forgotten except for two things: His nickname and the remarkable circumstance of his death. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Barkley_001_l_small Alben Barkley served in Congress for close to 40 years and was Harry Truman’s vice president from 1948-1952. Though he wanted to be President himself, Barkley never made it to the pinnacle of power. Only 14 VP’s have gone on to the presidency; the majority have, for the most part, lapsed into relative obscurity once their term was over. Barkley, too, might have been forgotten except for two things: His nickname and the remarkable circumstance of his death. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Shirley Chisholm: The Politics of Principle

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 07:37

In 1972, Shirley Chisholm launched a spirited campaign for the Democratic nomination. She was the first woman and first African American to run. Declaring herself “unbossed and unbought,” she took on the political establishment as the candidate of “all the people.” This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Shirley-chisholm_001_l_small In 1972, Shirley Chisholm launched a spirited campaign for the Democratic nomination. She was the first woman and first African American to run. Declaring herself “unbossed and unbought,” she took on the political establishment as the candidate of “all the people.” This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

William Jennings Bryan: The Speech That Changed Politics

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 07:11

At the 1896 Democratic Convention, Bryan gave a speech that electrified his party and won him the nomination. His “Cross of Gold” speech is known today as one of the most important oratorical performances in American history. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

William-jennings-bryan_001_l_small At the 1896 Democratic Convention, Bryan gave a speech that electrified his party and won him the nomination. His “Cross of Gold” speech is known today as one of the most important oratorical performances in American history. This story is part of the series "Contenders," portraits of some of America's most original presidential candidates. Produced by Radio Diaries (radiodiaries.org).

Melissa's Diary, Part 2: Raising Issaiah

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:37

This is Melissa’s second audio diary. Her son Issaiah is now one-year-old.

“I’m a really selfish person…I want to be treated as the baby. I want to be spoiled. I want to have everything I want. And now it’s like, you know, he’s got to be spoiled. He’s gotta have everything he wants. It’s always his way. But it doesn’t really bother me. He’s part of me, you know, it’s like, that’s me, right there, so I feel like my selfishness is just going towards him.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

Td_melissa_002_l_small

This is Melissa’s second audio diary. Her son Issaiah is now one-year-old.

“I’m a really selfish person…I want to be treated as the baby. I want to be spoiled. I want to have everything I want. And now it’s like, you know, he’s got to be spoiled. He’s gotta have everything he wants. It’s always his way. But it doesn’t really bother me. He’s part of me, you know, it’s like, that’s me, right there, so I feel like my selfishness is just going towards him.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series airs on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Randy’s Diary: Remembering Ozell

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:11

While living on a farm in the Mississippi Delta that was once part of a slave plantation, Randy searches for clues about the life of his great-grandfather, the civil rights leader Ozell Mitchell. This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

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While living on a farm in the Mississippi Delta that was once part of a slave plantation, Randy searches for clues about the life of his great-grandfather, the civil rights leader Ozell Mitchell.

“My great-grandfather dies two weeks before I was born and I never got to know him personally. A lot of people know about Malcolm X , Martin Luther King, and all the others. But most people my age around here today, they don’t know that Civil Rights really started right across the fence or down the road.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series  produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series is broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.

 

Emily’s Diary: Teenage Days

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:14

Emily gives an inside look at “sportos,” “krusties,” “krinkles,” and how being a teenager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Emily gives an inside look at “sportos,” “krusties,” “krinkles,” and how being a teenager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“I always wanted to be older when I was little. ‘Cause it was cool. You know, go to the drive-thru and order hamburgers, like on Happy Days. You know, getting in fights with your parents and getting grounded. You just thought it was the coolest thing. I mean, you need a goal when you’re little. That’s your goal: to grow up and be a teenager.”

Emily’s Diary: Teenage Days

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:14

Emily gives an inside look at “sportos,” “krusties,” “krinkles,” and how being a teenager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Td_emily_002_l_small

Emily gives an inside look at “sportos,” “krusties,” “krinkles,” and how being a teenager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

“I always wanted to be older when I was little. ‘Cause it was cool. You know, go to the drive-thru and order hamburgers, like on Happy Days. You know, getting in fights with your parents and getting grounded. You just thought it was the coolest thing. I mean, you need a goal when you’re little. That’s your goal: to grow up and be a teenager.”

Frankie’s Diary, Part 2: Football

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 16:24

Frankie’s second Teenage Diary follows his season playing running back for the Valley Head Tigers. Recorded in 1997, Frankie documents his life as a teenager.

Sixteen years later, Frankie records another diary, documenting his life now and what's happened since. Hear a sneak peak of Frankie's new diary in the Radio Diaries Podcast below.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

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Frankie’s second audio diary follows his season playing running back for the Valley Head Tigers. 
“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.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series airs on NPR’s All Things Considered 

Frankie's Diary, Part 1: Welcome Home, Dad

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:10

Frankie always thought his family was pretty normal until the day the FBI showed up. His dad had been hiding from the law for 15 years, and Frankie had no idea.

“I was coming home from school. I got off the school bus. My Dad and Mom were in the kitchen fixing a waffle iron. And about 10 minutes after I got off the bus, all these cops pulled in our yard. And my Dad looked out the window and he looked at our family in the kitchen.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

Td_frankie_002_l_small

Frankie always thought his family was pretty normal until the day the FBI showed up. His dad had been hiding from the law for 15 years, and Frankie had no idea.

“I was coming home from school. I got off the school bus. My Dad and Mom were in the kitchen fixing a waffle iron. And about 10 minutes after I got off the bus, all these cops pulled in our yard. And my Dad looked out the window and he looked at our family in the kitchen. 

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series airs on NPR’s All Things Considered

Juan's Diary, Part 2: Back to Mexico

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 25:51

In Juan’s second audio diary, he travels back to Mexico to visit his dying grandfather. This is his first time back since he immigrated to the United States.

“I search in my pockets and I find, you know, some money and I say, ‘Well, you know, now I can help out, you know.’ And he just laugh. And I say, ‘Why are you laughing?’ He says, ‘Well, I never expect you to give me some money, ’cause it’s like it was yesterday when you were a kid, and everything.’ And then, I still remember the smile on his face. He kept saying that he was proud of me. He was proud, you know?”

Juan first recorded his audio diary with us 16 years ago. In a recent podcast, we hear from Juan today as he reflects back on his life now and the past 16 years.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

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In Juan’s second audio diary, he travels back to Mexico to visit his dying grandfather. This is his first time back since he immigrated to the United States.

“I search in my pockets and I find, you know, some money and I say, ‘Well, you know, now I can help out, you know.’ And he just laugh. And I say, ‘Why are you laughing?’ He says, ‘Well, I never expect you to give me some money, ’cause it’s like it was yesterday when you were a kid, and everything.’ And then, I still remember the smile on his face. He kept saying that he was proud of me. He was proud, you know?”

This story is part of the  Teenage Diaries series  produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series airs on NPR’s  All Things Considered  

 

Melissa's Diary, Part 2: Raising Issaiah

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:37

This is Melissa’s second audio diary. Her son Issaiah is now one-year-old.

“I’m a really selfish person…I want to be treated as the baby. I want to be spoiled. I want to have everything I want. And now it’s like, you know, he’s got to be spoiled. He’s gotta have everything he wants. It’s always his way. But it doesn’t really bother me. He’s part of me, you know, it’s like, that’s me, right there, so I feel like my selfishness is just going towards him.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

Td_melissa_002_l_small

This is Melissa’s second audio diary. Her son Issaiah is now one-year-old.

“I’m a really selfish person…I want to be treated as the baby. I want to be spoiled. I want to have everything I want. And now it’s like, you know, he’s got to be spoiled. He’s gotta have everything he wants. It’s always his way. But it doesn’t really bother me. He’s part of me, you know, it’s like, that’s me, right there, so I feel like my selfishness is just going towards him.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series airs on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Juan's Diary, Part 1: Looking at the Rio Grande

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 24:32

Juan crossed the Rio Grande illegally into Texas four years before he first recorded with Radio Diaries. At the time of his original diary, Juan and his family lived in a poor community just this side of the US-Mexican border.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

*Podcast with Juan's Teenage Diary also included.

Juan_small Juan and his family crossed the Rio Grande illegally into Texas four years ago. Now they live in a poor community just this side of the US-Mexican border.

This story is part of the  Teenage Diaries series  produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series airs on NPR’s  All Things Considered    

Melissa's Diary, Part 1: Teen Mom

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 29:20

Melissa didn't mean to get pregnant. After 12 years of living in the foster care system, she's trying to build the family she never had. "The funny thing about a having a baby, especially a boy, is that he always pisses on me. Always. Any time I change him, he's always peeing on me. I don't know why. He's marking his territory. Like he says, 'This is mine.'"

Melissa first recorded with Radio Diaries in the late 1990's. Now 16 years later we're giving her a microphone again to hear what's happened since and how much has changed. Audio here includes her original diary and our recent podcast, where we meet the Melissa of today.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

Td_melissa_004_l_small Melissa didn't mean to get pregnant. But now, after 12 years of living in the foster care system, she's trying to build the family she never had. "The funny thing about a having a baby, especially a boy, is that he always pisses on me. Always. Any time I change him, he's always peeing on me. I don't know why. He's marking his territory. Like he says, 'This is mine.'"

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series  produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series is broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.

 

Josh's Diary, Part 1: Growing Up with Tourette's

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:25

Josh has Tourette's Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. "It feels like there's a big balloon inside my stomach. And the balloon keeps growing bigger and bigger, like every second extra the tic stays inside it feels like somebody blows up the balloon another notch, until I let it out."

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR

Td_josh_003_sql_copy_small Josh has Tourette's Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. "It feels like there's a big balloon inside my stomach. And the balloon keeps growing bigger and bigger, like every second extra the tic stays inside it feels like somebody blows up the balloon another notch, until I let it out."

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series  produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series is broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.  

Josh's Diary, Part 2: First Kiss

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 18:11

In Josh's second diary, he packs his tape recorder for his first summer away from home. "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."

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

Td_josh_002_l_small In Josh's second diary, he packs his tape recorder for his first summer away from home. "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."

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. 

Ricky's Diary: What if God...

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 11:25

Ricky’s father is an atheist activist. These days, Ricky is beginning his own search for God, and something to believe in. This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR.

“Kids at school think that, being an atheist, you worship the devil, and you think that the devil is the best thing in the whole wide world. I tell them that an atheist doesn’t believe in the devil. And also, I’m not an atheist, really. I used to think that I was an atheist. Now I’m not really so sure. I’m sorta confused, because I don’t know what to believe.”

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Ricky’s father is an atheist activist. These days, Ricky is beginning his own search for God, and something to believe in.
“Kids at school think that, being an atheist, you worship the devil, and you think that the devil is the best thing in the whole wide world. I tell them that an atheist doesn’t believe in the devil. And also, I’m not an atheist, really. I used to think that I was an atheist. Now I’m not really so sure. I’m sorta confused, because I don’t know what to believe.”

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries series produced by Radio Diaries for NPR. Since 1996, Executive Producer Joe Richman has been giving tape recorders to young people around the country to document their lives. In December of 2012, Radio Diaries will revisit five of the original diarists 16 years after their first recordings. The series is broadcast on NPR's All Things Considered.  

Mandy's Diary: God is my Guy

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries series | 12:20

Mandy attends an evangelical Christian church. Every Sunday, she arrives at least an hour early for services, because that’s one of the things you do when your father is the pastor. This story was originally broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.

Td_001_l_small Mandy attends an evangelical Christian church. Every Sunday, she arrives at least an hour early for services, because that’s one of the things you do when your father is the pastor. This story was originally broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered.

March of the Bonus Army

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 11:56

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.

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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. Desperate for relief in the worst year of the Depression, the vets wanted their bonuses now. They called themselves the Bonus Army.

As they traveled east, veterans from all over the country joined up. By July, more than 20,000 veterans and their families had arrived in the nation’s capital. They established a tent city and vowed to stay until their demands were met. But finally, in a historic confrontation, General Douglas MacArthur’s Army troops routed the Bonus Army and burned their camp to the ground.

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

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 14:40

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men – an ocean apart – sat before a microphone and began to play.

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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.


The Gospel Ranger

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 14:42

One of the last songs that Johnny Cash recorded before he died was called, “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).”

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One of the last songs that Johnny Cash recorded before he died was calle, “There Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down).”

But that song is not a Johnny Cash original. “Ain’t No Grave” was actually written in 1934, by a 12-year-old boy named Claude Ely. Ely went on to become an itinerant Pentecostal preacher known to his followers as Brother Claude, the Gospel Ranger. Brother Claude was a fiery speaker and an electrifying singer. Outside the Appalachian mountains, his name was barely known. But his music helped influence some of the pioneers of rock & roll.

Strange Fruit: Voices of a Lynching

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 14:35

Poet and songwriter Abel Meeropol wrote that lament after seeing a photograph of two black teenagers hanging from a tree.

Strange-fruit_001_l_small Poet and songwriter Abel Meeropol wrote that lament after seeing a photograph of two black teenagers hanging from a tree. Strange Fruit was later made famous by Billie Holiday. But a third boy escaped being lynched that fateful day, 80 years ago, in Marion, Indiana. James Cameron was believed to be the only African American to have survived a lynching. Decades later, a box of recordings was found in a basement. They contained the recollections of people who witnessed or took part in the events of that day.

The Square Deal

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 16:09

George F. Johnson was the owner of the Endicott Johnson Corp. — at one time the country’s leading shoe manufacturer — and one of the nation’s leading welfare capitalists known for his labor policy, the “Square Deal.”

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When George F. Johnson died, the nation witnessed one of the largest funerals in U.S. history.

George F. Johnson was the owner of the Endicott Johnson Corp. — at one time the country’s leading shoe manufacturer — and one of the nation’s leading welfare capitalists.

The company was based in the Triple Cities of upstate New York: Endicott, Johnson City and Binghamton. The region was known as the “Valley of Opportunity,” so-called because of Johnson’s generous labor policies, known as the “Square Deal.”

 

The Last Man on the Mountain

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 13:59

In the 1990s, Arch Coal began mining Pigeonroost Hollow. Now Jimmy Weekley is the last person left there.

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In West Virginia, people say that in the old days, communities turned into ghost towns when the coal ran out. Now, they turn into ghost towns when mountaintop mines move in.

Jimmy Weekley has lived in Pigeonroost Hollow, West Virginia for 70 years. He worked as a coal miner, as did his grandfather, father, uncles, and sons. And like most West Virginians, Weekley saw coal as the economic lifeblood of his community. Then in the 1990s, Arch Coal moved into his area and began work on the Spruce Number One mine. It was one of the largest mountaintop removal mining sites ever proposed, and it was virtually in Weekley’s backyard. Almost overnight, Weekley became an unlikely anti-mining activist.

Over the last decade, Weekley has watched his family and neighbors take buyouts from Arch Coal and leave the area. But Weekley refuses to sell. Now he’s the last person remaining in Pigeonroost Hollow.

The Two Lives of Asa Carter

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 01:13:55

Asa Carter and Forrest Carter couldn’t have been more different. But they shared a secret.

Asa_001_t_small 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.

NOTE: We produced two different versions of this piece, one for NPR and one for This American Life.

Today, The Education of Little Tree is sold as an “autobiographical novel” by Forrest Carter. Readers won’t find any mention of Asa Carter in its pages.

Reporter Wayne Greenhaw, the first person to expose Carter, died earlier this year.

The music that ends this piece is by banjo player Adam Hurt. Also featured in the story: Tennessee, by interviewee Ron Taylor, with lyrics by Asa Carter.

Special thanks to Douglas Newman, Laura Browder, Marco Ricci, and Michael Fix, whose film documentary,The Reconstruction of Asa Carter, airs this month on PBS stations. 

 

Segregation Now, Segregation Forever: The Infamous Words of George Wallace

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 10:23

On the 50th anniversary of Wallace’s inaugural speech as the Governor of Alabama, Radio Diaries tells the story behind those infamous words, and the man who delivered them.

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It was just a single line in an inauguration speech given 50 years ago. But Alabama Governor George Wallace’s ‘Segregation Now, Segregation Tomorrow, Segregation Forever’ is remembered as one of the most vehement rallying cries against racial equality in American history.
 
The year was 1963. Civil rights activists were fighting for equal access to schools and the voting booth, and the federal government was preparing to intervene in many southern states. In Montgomery, Alabama, newly elected governor George Wallace stepped up to a podium to deliver his inaugural address.
 
On the speech’s fiftieth anniversary, Radio Diaries looks back at the story behind those famous words, and the man who delivered them.
 
In his later years, George Wallace embarked on an apology tour, paying amends to civil rights activists and appearing in black churches to ask forgiveness. In his last election as governor of Alabama, in 1982, he won with more than ninety percent of the black vote.
 
This story is part of our Audio History Project and was produced by Samara Freemark, with help from Joe Richman, Sarah Kramer, Ben Shapiro, Nellie Gilles, and edited by Deborah George.

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series | 19:36

As an 18-year-old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Isaaiah. 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 her new diary, Melissa chronicles her life as a working single mother, and reveals things about her past that her son has never known.

Melissa_thumbnail_small As an 18 year old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Isaaiah. 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 her new diary, Melissa chronicles her life as a working single mother, and reveals things about her past that her son has never known. (You can also listen to Melissa's two Teenage Diaries on PRX.)

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Frankie

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series | 30:26

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—when he was arrested for drug related crimes. In his new diary, Frankie tells his story of crystal meth addiction and takes his recorder along while he attempts to repair his relationship with his family. With a baby on the way, Frankie is hoping for a second chance.

Frankie_thumbnail_small 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—when he was arrested for drug related crimes. In his new diary, Frankie tells his story of crystal meth addiction and takes his recorder along while he attempts to repair his relationship with his family. With a baby on the way, Frankie is hoping for a second chance. This is part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series, in which we followed up with five of the original Teenage Diarists 16 years after their stories aired on NPR. Frankie's Teenage Diary is also available on PRX: http://www.prx.org/pieces/86560-frankie-s-diary-part-1-welcome-home-dad

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Josh

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series | 19:25

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. Josh’s new diary is about trying to live a normal adult life with a brain that often betrays him.

Josh_thumbnail_small 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. Josh’s new diary is about trying to live a normal adult life with a brain that often betrays him. This story is part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series, in which we catch up with five of the original Teenage Diarists. You can also hear Josh's two Teenage Diaries on PRX: http://www.prx.org/pieces/457-josh-s-diary-part-1-growing-up-with-tourette-s

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Juan

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series | 29:09

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 builtince 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.

Juan_thumbnail_small 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 builtince 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.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series, in which Radio Diaries caught up with five of the people who recorded their Teenage Diaries in 1996-7. Juan's two Teenage Diaries are also available on PRX: http://www.prx.org/pieces/459-juan-s-diary-part-1-looking-at-the-rio-grande

Teenage Diaries Revisited: Juan

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series | 29:09

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 builtince 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.

Juan_thumbnail_small 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 builtince 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.

This story is part of the Teenage Diaries Revisited series, in which Radio Diaries caught up with five of the people who recorded their Teenage Diaries in 1996-7. Juan's two Teenage Diaries are also available on PRX: http://www.prx.org/pieces/459-juan-s-diary-part-1-looking-at-the-rio-grande

The View From the 79th Floor (Podcast)

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Radio Diaries Podcast series | 14:09

Stories from the day a plane crashed into the Empire State Building.

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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 Long Shadow of Forrest Carter

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Audio History Project series | 15:54

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.

Forestcarter_image_200x200_small 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.

Radio Diaries is proud to be a founding member of Radiotopia from PRX — a collective of the best story-driven shows on the planet. This week’s theme in Radiotopia: The Long Shadow. Check out all the shows at radiotopia.fm. 

Jeff's Diary: Revisited

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Radio Diaries Podcast series | 19:02

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. I met Jeff back in 1998, and I gave him a tape recorder to document his life for our Teenage Diaries series.

I 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 I recently had with him, more than 15 years later.

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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. I met Jeff back in 1998, and I gave him a tape recorder to document his life for our Teenage Diaries series.
I 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 I recently had with him, more than 15 years later.

Working: Then & Now

From Radio Diaries | 10:13

In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country interviewing people about their jobs. Studs recorded more than 130 interviews, and the end-result was a book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” And — something very rare for an oral history collection — it became a bestseller. “Working” struck a nerve because it elevated the stories of ordinary people – and the most ordinary parts of their daily lives.

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In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country interviewing people about their jobs. Studs recorded more than 130 interviews, and the end-result was a book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” And — something very rare for an oral history collection — it became a bestseller. “Working” struck a nerve because it elevated the stories of ordinary people – and the most ordinary parts of their daily lives.

After the book came out, the cassettes were packed away in boxes and stored in Studs’ home office. This year Radio Diaries and Project& have been given access to the original raw field interviews, many of which have not been heard in 40 years. This story features Helen Moog, a taxi driver in Youngstown, Ohio and grandmother of five, and Lovin’ Al Pommier, a car hiker in Chicago, Illinois.

This is a pilot for a national initiative from Project& that includes a week-long public radio series that we’re co-producing. Thanks to the Chicago History Museum, WFMT, the Studs Terkel Radio Archive and Studs’ longtime collaborators Sydney Lewis and Lois Baum.

Busman's Holiday

From Radio Diaries | 17:37

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.

Cimillo_portrait_film_small 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. 

The Man Who Put the 'P' in NPR

From Radio Diaries | 19:24

One of the best mission statements I’ve 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.

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One of the best mission statements I’ve 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’s the link).

Here at Radio Diaries we like history – including our own. So with help from the good folks at Transom.org,  I brought Bill into a studio because I was curious how he came to write that original mission statement, and why. I asked him to look back at the history of public media, and to imagine the future. I also asked him to read part of that original NPR mission statement.  You can hear our conversation on this special episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast.

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.

The Man Who Put the 'P' in NPR

From Radio Diaries | 19:24

One of the best mission statements I’ve 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.

Joe_and_bill_siemering_thumbnail_small

One of the best mission statements I’ve 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’s the link).

Here at Radio Diaries we like history – including our own. So with help from the good folks at Transom.org,  I brought Bill into a studio because I was curious how he came to write that original mission statement, and why. I asked him to look back at the history of public media, and to imagine the future. I also asked him to read part of that original NPR mission statement.  You can hear our conversation on this special episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast.

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.

Identical Strangers

From Radio Diaries | 15:05

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 at the age of 35, and discovered that they had been part of a unique research study on the ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ question.

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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 at the age of 35, and discovered that they had been part of a unique research study on the ‘Nature vs. Nurture’ question. Hear their story on the Radio Diaries Podcast: Identical Strangers.

Contenders (Hour Special)

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Contenders series | 53:25

Portraits of some of America’s most groundbreaking and unusual presidential candidates...who never won the white house.

Bryan_t_small Portraits of some of America’s most groundbreaking and unusual presidential candidates, who never won the white house. From Margaret Chase Smith to Shirley Chisholm… from William Jennings Bryan to Adlai Stevenson… some candidates make history, even when they lose. 

This one-hour special spans 150 years and features the stories of six losing presidential candidates:
Victoria Woodhull: The First Woman to Run for President
William Jennings Bryan: The Speech That Changed American Politics
Adlai Stevenson: Believing in Words in the Age of Television
Alben Barkley: The Veep
Margaret Chase Smith: Cold War Hawk in Pearls
Shirley Chisholm: The Politics of Principle
 
Contenders is presented by Radio Diaries and PRX. For more information visit www.radiodiaries.org. 
*News hole and 2 floating breaks 

The Working Tapes: Advertising Executive

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 03:19

Studs Terkel interviews a female advertising executive in the 1970's for his book "Working."

Studs1_small Studs Terkel interviews a female advertising executive in the 1970's for his book "Working." Part of the Radio Diaries series The Working Tapes. 

The Working Tapes: Auto Mechanics

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 06:27

In the 1970's, Studs Terkel interviewed Duke and Lee Singer at their auto repair shop in Geneva, Illinois. He was looking for a story about fixing cars. Instead, he found a story about fathers and sons working together... and the tensions within a family business. Four decades later, Radio Diaries went back and found the family business still intact -- tensions at all.

Lee_singer__square_small In the 1970's, Studs Terkel interviewed Duke and Lee Singer at their auto repair shop in Geneva, Illinois. He was looking for a story about fixing cars. Instead, he found a story about fathers and sons working together... and the tensions within a family business. Four decades later, Radio Diaries went back and found the family business still intact -- tensions at all.

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 54:59

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," which quickly became a bestseller. But until now, few of the taped interviews have ever been heard. In this hour, The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel. Featuring interviews with a telephone switchboard operator, a hotel piano player, a Chicago police officer, a private investigator, an auto factory worker and more.

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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: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do." The book 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. Studs celebrated the un-celebrated.
But until now, few of the interviews have ever been heard. For decades, the tapes were packed away in Studs’ home office. Radio Diaries and our partner Project& were given exclusive access to those recordings and spent a year combing through them to produce a new series for NPR. We also tracked down some of the people Studs interviewed more than 40 years ago.
In this hour, our series The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel. Featuring interviews with a telephone switchboard operator, a hotel piano player, a Chicago police officer, an auto factory work, an advertising executive and more. 

Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Last Witness series | 04:44

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. Russell Gackenbach was a second lieutenant and a navigator on the Necessary Evil. Today, he is the only surviving member of the mission.

Russell_gackenbach_thumnail_small

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 observation planes, the Great Artiste and the Necessary Evil. But most of the 34 crew-members didn’t know that they were carrying the most powerful weapon in the world. Russell Gackenbach was a second lieutenant and a navigator on the Necessary Evil. Today, he is the only surviving member of the mission.

Last Witness: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Last Witness series | 06:20

On May 31, 1921, Olivia Hooker was six-years-old when white mobs launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1,000 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_then_square_small On May 31, 1921, Olivia Hooker was six-years-old when white mobs launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1,000 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. This story is part of our ongoing series Last Witness. 

The Story of Jane

From Radio Diaries | 11:59

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.

Jane_advertisement_square_small 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.

The Working Tapes: Press Agent

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 01:43

Eddie Jaffe was a press agent "legendary for his lost causes, chutzpah and angst," according to his obituary in the New York Times. He represented Broadway and Hollywood stars. In his interview with Terkel, Jaffe looked back on his career and wondered if somehow he had made the wrong choice. This story was produced for the NPR series Working: Then & Now.

Eddie_jaffe_square_small Eddie Jaffe was a press agent "legendary for his lost causes, chutzpah and angst," according to his obituary in the New York Times. He represented Broadway and Hollywood stars. In his interview with Terkel, Jaffe looked back on his career and wondered if somehow he had made the wrong choice. This story was produced for the NPR series Working: Then & Now. 

The Working Tapes: Union Rep

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 04:17

Gary Bryner tells Studs Terkel about being a union member and working in an auto factory for General Motors. Four decades later, he reflects on how factory work and the role of unions have changed. This story was produced for our series The Working Tapes.

Gary_bryner_square_small

Gary Bryner tells Studs Terkel about being a union member and working in an auto factory for General Motors. Four decades later, he reflects on how factory work and the role of unions have changed.
This interview and others that Terkel recorded for his 1974 book, Working, were boxed away in his house until recently, when Radio Diaries and Project& combed through them and produced a series of audio stories. Thanks to the WFMT Studs Terkel Archive and the Chicago History Museum. More stories from the series are also available on The Radio Diaries Podcast.

The Working Tapes: Phone Operator

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 04:32

Sharon Griggins was 17 years old and working for Illinois Bell as a telephone operator when she was interviewed by Studs Terkel. For a job that required talking to people all day long, Griggins told Terkel that it was a remarkably lonely profession. This is part of the series, The Working Tapes from Radio Diaries and Project&. Radio Diaries dug up Terkel's never-before-broadcast recordings and tracked down surviving interviewees, including Griggins, 45 years later.

Sharon_griggins_square_small Sharon Griggins was 17 years old and working for Illinois Bell as a telephone operator when she was interviewed by Studs Terkel. For a job that required talking to people all day long, Griggins told Terkel that it was a remarkably lonely profession. This is part of the series, The Working Tapes from Radio Diaries and Project&. Radio Diaries dug up Terkel's never-before-broadcast recordings and tracked down surviving interviewees, including Griggins, 45 years later. 

Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima

From Radio Diaries | Part of the Last Witness series | 04:44

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. Russell Gackenbach was a second lieutenant and a navigator on the Necessary Evil. Today, he is the only surviving member of the mission.

Russell_gackenbach_thumnail_small

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 observation planes, the Great Artiste and the Necessary Evil. But most of the 34 crew-members didn’t know that they were carrying the most powerful weapon in the world. Russell Gackenbach was a second lieutenant and a navigator on the Necessary Evil. Today, he is the only surviving member of the mission.

The Working Tapes: Advertising Executive

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 03:19

Studs Terkel interviews a female advertising executive in the 1970's for his book "Working."

Studs1_small Studs Terkel interviews a female advertising executive in the 1970's for his book "Working." Part of the Radio Diaries series The Working Tapes. 

The Working Tapes: Jockey

From Radio Diaries | Part of the The Working Tapes series | 04:10

When he was first interviewed by Studs Terkel in 1971, jockey Eddie Arroyo had been racing for 6 years. He said it was the hardest and most dangerous job he'd ever had. The interview appeared in Terkel's seminal book "Working," but the original recordings have never been heard. Four decades later, Radio Diaries dug up Terkel's interview tapes and tracked down the now-retired jockey Eddie Arroyo.

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When he was first interviewed by Studs Terkel in 1971, jockey Eddie Arroyo had been racing for 6 years. He said it was the hardest and most dangerous job he'd ever had. The interview appeared in Terkel's seminal book "Working," but the original recording has never been heard. Four decades later, Radio Diaries dug up Terkel's interview tapes and tracked down the now-retired jockey Eddie Arroyo.
This interview and others that Terkel recorded for his 1974 book, Working, were boxed away in his house until recently, when Radio Diaries and Project& combed through them and produced a series of audio stories, Working Then And Now. Thanks to the WFMT Studs Terkel Archive and the Chicago History Museum. More stories from the series are also available on The Radio Diaries Podcast.

Prisoners of War

From Radio Diaries | 18:19

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. By the summer of 1968, over half the men in Long Binh Jail were locked up on AWOL charges. And 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, the situation erupted. Fifty years later, we’re bringing you that story.

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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.