Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries

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

Episodes

February 14, 2021 14 min

One year ago, on Valentine’s Day 2020, Peter Fodera’s heart broke. It stopped working. He collapsed in the middle of teaching a dance class. Someone performed CPR, someone called an ambulance. EMT’s showed up and he lay motionless. He technically died that day. But later at the hospital, Peter’s heart started beating again. On the anniversary of Peter’s brief death, he sat down with his daughter Juliana who has Noonan Syndrome, a r...

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February 5, 2021 31 min

In 2012, Claressa Shields was a 16-year-old boxer in Flint, Michigan. She had an audacious dream: to be the Muhammad Ali of womens boxing. We gave her tape recorder to keep an audio diary as she fought to make it onto the first ever women’s Olympic boxing team.

Claressa is now 25 and fights professionally. With two gold medals and four world championships, she’s achieved her boxing dreams. But with boxing shut down during COVID, s...

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January 16, 2021 25 min

After the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th, we've all been trying to grapple with an event that feels so different from anything we’ve experienced before in this country. But this attack wasn’t the first time the Capitol has been violently breached. History books mention 1814 — when the British army set fire to the Capitol. Less well known is what happened on March 1st, 1954. That’s when four young Puerto Rican New Yor...

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December 17, 2020 24 min

Robert and Wendy Jackson have been socially distancing under the same roof for 8 months. Robert is 71 and had a kidney transplant four years ago. His immune system is severely compromised. His wife, Wendy, is a pediatric emergency room doctor. When the pandemic hit in March, the couple made the difficult decision to live together…six feet apart. We also revisit the audio diary of 11-year-old Francesca Montanaro, who was going to sc...

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December 4, 2020 28 min

When the pandemic hit back in March, Gali Beeri and Joshua Boliver decided to quarantine together, after their very first date. Today on the show, we check back in with them — eight months later — to see how a new relationship weathers a pandemic. Their story is part of our series Hunker Down Diaries, stories of people in unexpected situations during the pandemic. You can listen to the whole series on past episodes of the Radio Dia...

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November 20, 2020 15 min

It’s been 9 months since Joe Newman (107) and Anita Sampson (100) recorded their story about surviving the 1918 pandemic, getting older, and staying in love during lockdown. We’re thrilled to announce they just won a Third Coast Award! We share their story and check in with them in Sarasota, Florida where COVID cases are surging.

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Support this week from AcornTV and their new series “A Suitable Boy” from the BBC.

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November 2, 2020 19 min

Presidential campaigns are essentially dramas, and we’re in the final act of this one. The curtain is about to come down.For the past century, the moment of closure has come in the form of one simple act: the public concession. From William Jennings Bryan to Adlai Stevenson to John McCain to Al Gore and Hillary Clinton…. A History of How To Lose An Election.

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We have support from Imagined Life, a podcast from Wondery.
https:...

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October 1, 2020 20 min

In an election season when the words "Will you condemn white supremacy" are considered a gotcha question at a presidential debate, it seems like a good time to look back at another moment in American history when race and ethnic division took center stage.

On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro...

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September 10, 2020 16 min

In the summer of 1932, a group of World War I veterans in Portland, Oregon hopped a freight train and started riding the rails to Washington DC. They were demanding immediate payment of a cash bonus the government had promised them after the war – but delayed until 1945. More than 20,000 veterans and their families arrived in the nation’s capital. They established a tent city and vowed to stay until their demands were met. But, in ...

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August 27, 2020 16 min

This summer, videos of Black people killed by police officers have sparked outrage and protests across the country. 65 years ago, it was a photograph that shocked the nation. The image of 14-year-old Emmett Till.

Till had traveled from Chicago to the Mississippi Delta to visit family, when he was kidnapped, horribly beaten and killed by white men after allegedly flirting with a white woman. His body was later found in the Tallahat...

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August 6, 2020 12 min

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

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July 13, 2020 10 min

The Kearns family funeral business was founded in New York City in the year 1900. Over 120 years, the family has seen a lot of history. Patrick Kearns and Paul Kearns-Stanley are the owners. After 4 months, they finally had a chance to reflect on the COVID-19 pandemic, and how it's looked from their corner of New York. They sat down together on a recent evening — at the end of a long work day — in their funeral home in Queens.

...

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July 2, 2020 10 min

COVID-19 has forced many families to improvise childcare. For some, it's been like a four month long 'bring your child to work' day. Paul Montanaro runs a pizza shop in the Bronx. That's where his 11-year-old daughter Francesca has been spending her days since her school shut down in March. Both of Francesca's parents are essential workers - her mom is an ICU nurse at a hospital in Manhattan.

For our Hunker Dow...

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June 25, 2020 9 min

Coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country and the five largest clusters of the virus are in correctional institutions. This isn’t a surprise. Prisons are often overcrowded, social distancing is difficult, bathrooms and public spaces are shared by hundreds of inmates. Guards are constantly going in and out. In a pandemic, prison is probably the worst place a person could be.

Robbie Pollock spent 8 years in New York state...

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June 16, 2020 12 min

Back in March, as the pandemic hit, many people across the country found themselves without a safety net. Naida Lavon was one of them. Naida is 67 and a former school bus driver. She was recently furloughed from her part time job at a rental car company. For the past few months, Naida’s been living in her car on the streets of Portland, Oregon. As part of our Hunker Down Diaries series, we bring you her story.

Music this week from...

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Renault Robinson was one of Chicago's few black police officers in the 1970s. He was a founder of the Afro-American Patrolmen's League.

We first learned about Robinson from Studs Terkel's book Working. Studs went around the country in the 1970s interviewing people about their jobs. Robinson's interview is one of the most powerful parts of the book. He is incredibly honest and blunt about what it was like to be a bl...

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May 15, 2020 20 min

Gali Beeri and Joshua Boliver both live in New York City and they were both single back in March when the city was preparing to lock down. Then they decided to quarantine together, after their very first date. Their story is part of our series Hunker Down Diaries, a collaboration with NPR, bringing you stories of people in unexpected situations during the pandemic. If you have an idea for the series, write to hunkerdown@radiodi...

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April 24, 2020 20 min

Most of the country is social distancing in public, but some people are doing it under the same roof. Robert Jackson is 71 and had a kidney transplant four years ago. His immune system is severely compromised. His wife, Wendy Jackson, is a pediatric emergency room physician. She runs the risk of being exposed to the coronavirus at work. So the couple made the difficult decision to live together... six feet apart. Their story is par...

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April 10, 2020 13 min

Joe Newman is 107 years old. He was 5 during the flu pandemic of 1918. Today, he lives in a senior apartment complex in Sarasota, Florida with his fiancé, Anita Sampson. The complex is on lockdown, so we sent them a recorder and they interviewed each other on Anita's 100th birthday.

This story is the first in a new series called Hunker Down Diaries, surprising stories from people thrown together by the pandemic. Produced in co...

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March 11, 2020 35 min

There’s a long history in America of white people imagining black people’s lives - in novels, in movies, and sometimes in journalism.  In 1969, Grace Halsell, a white journalist, published a book called Soul Sister.

It was her account of living as a “black woman” in the United States. Lyndon Johnson provided a blurb for the book, and it sold over a million copies.

Halsell was inspired by John Howard Griffin’s Black Like Me, which...

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