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Society & Culture
Documentary

Radio Diaries

Updated 3 days ago

Society & Culture
Documentary
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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 keepers. The extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Radio Diaries is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at radiotopia.fm

Read more

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

iTunes Ratings

842 Ratings
Average Ratings
674
94
35
23
16

History made personal

By mineking1 - Jul 02 2018
Read more
The best way to hear about life... from those living it. We’ve all got a story to tell.

Best podcast

By bufflord - May 29 2018
Read more
This is the best podcast. Period.

iTunes Ratings

842 Ratings
Average Ratings
674
94
35
23
16

History made personal

By mineking1 - Jul 02 2018
Read more
The best way to hear about life... from those living it. We’ve all got a story to tell.

Best podcast

By bufflord - May 29 2018
Read more
This is the best podcast. Period.

Listen to:

Cover image of Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries

Updated 3 days ago

Read more

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

The Last Place

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

Sep 21 2017

30mins

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

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

Nov 21 2017

34mins

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Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa

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

Jun 12 2013

42mins

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Serving 9-5: Diaries from Prison Guards

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

Oct 22 2015

24mins

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Prisoners of War

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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 bring you the incredible story.

Sep 19 2019

20mins

Play

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

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In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: "Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do." This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country.

Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and forgotten for decades. A couple years ago, Radio Diaries and the organization Project& were given exclusive access to the tapes. On this episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast, we're bringing you eleven stories from Studs' Working tapes. There's the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.

Sep 05 2019

59mins

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Identical Strangers

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

Feb 18 2016

17mins

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Burma ’88: Buried History

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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.

Aug 08 2013

15mins

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Stories from a Vanishing New York

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

Aug 22 2019

24mins

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Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima

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On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It was the first time a nuclear weapon had been used in warfare. There were three strike planes that flew over Hiroshima that day: the Enola Gay which carried the bomb, and two escort planes, the Great Artiste and the Necessary Evil. Russell Gackenbach was a Second Lieutenant and a navigator on the mission. Today, he is the only surviving crew member from those three planes.

Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch! You can find us on Twitter and Facebook, use the hashtag #LastWitness.

Sponsors:

LinkedIn – Get $50 off your first job posting at www.linkedin.com/diaries and use code DIARIES at checkout.

Quip – Get first refill pack FREE by going to www.getquip.com/diaries

Aug 06 2018

15mins

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Working, Then and Now

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

Sep 01 2014

14mins

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Crime Pays

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This month’s podcast is about what it takes to get people to change. We focus on a group of people that might be the hardest to change – or at least they’ve had the most money thrown at them in hopes of change: Criminals.

Back in 2006, Richmond, CA was named the ninth most dangerous city in the country, with 42 murders for a population of about 100,000. Then they brought in a new police chief and started doing all kinds of things differently. And it worked. Homicides are now a third of what they were. Crime has dropped in a way that is dramatic and impressive. And police say that one of the things that helped is a program called the Office of Neighborhood Safety, or ONS. That’s a bland name for what is actually a very unusual program with one particular tactic that you do not hear about people trying very often: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds crazy, but the even crazier part is…it works.

This story originally aired on This American Life, in the episode, The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind. Thanks to Ira Glass and the entire staff of This American Life for their help on this story.

Sep 11 2015

22mins

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When Nazis Took Manhattan

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On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro-American rally." Inside, on the stage, there was a 30-foot tall banner of George Washington, sandwiched between American flags...and two huge swastikas.

Today’s episode is a special collaboration with The Memory Palace.

***

This episode is sponsored by Care/Of, a monthly subscription vitamin service. For 50% off your first month, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter radiodiaries50.

Feb 20 2019

21mins

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First Kiss

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Josh Cutler has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. In this episode, listen to his teenage diary about getting his first kiss.

“What I have here is an envelope on which this girl Nicole wrote down instructions on how to kiss. It says: ‘pucker lips, slowly open mouth, slowly slide tongue in, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.’ She made that list for me because I made out with her and she said I was doing it wrong. So I guess that’s the main thing I learned this summer.”

Feb 12 2015

20mins

Play

Strange Fruit – Voices of a Lynching

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The images coming out of Ferguson, MO this summer have reminded us of another upsetting image of race in America. It’s a photograph that was taken just a few hours from Ferguson, but eight decades ago…and it inspired the Billie Holiday song, Strange Fruit.

Listen to our story (and be advised that it is disturbing.)

Aug 25 2014

17mins

Play

The Working Tapes – Part 1

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An auto union worker, a switchboard telephone operator, a press agent…

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs for his book, “Working.” It was a surprise bestseller. But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before.

For decades, the reel-to-reel tapes were packed away in Terkel’s home office. Over the past year, Radio Diaries, along with Project&, combed through them to produce a new NPR series. This is the first of a three-part podcast series on The Working Tapes.

Also – please fill out this survey to let us know what you think of our podcast! http://surveynerds.com/diaries

Sep 30 2016

17mins

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Last Man on the Mountain – Updated

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A few years ago, we produced a story about the greatest underdog we’d ever met: Jimmy Weekley.

Jimmy was the last remaining resident of Pigeonroost Hollow, West Virginia. Jimmy spent most of the last two decades fighting one of the largest coal companies in the country in an attempt to save his hometown. He said he was born in Pigeonroost Hollow, and he planned to die there. This year, he did. He was 74. Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering Jimmy Weekley, The Last Man on the Mountain.

Dec 11 2014

16mins

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The Man in the Zoo

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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.

Mar 25 2016

12mins

Play

Busman’s Holiday

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The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947, left his regular route in the Bronx, and drove his municipal bus down to Florida. This story originally aired on This American Life.

***

Radio Diaries is a non-profit organization. We couldn’t do this work without support from our listeners. If you like this podcast, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution before December 31st. Go to www.radiodiaries.org to donate.

Dec 20 2016

20mins

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“Halfrican” Revisited

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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. We met Jeff back in 1998, and gave him a tape recorder so he could document his life for our Teenage Diaries series. We started thinking about Jeff when we produced our Teenage Diaries Revisited series last year for NPR. On today’s show, Jeff’s original teenage diary, plus…a conversation we recently had with him, more than 15 years later.

Jun 23 2014

21mins

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Thembi's Diary, Revisited

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

****

Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today.

#RadiotopiaForever

Dec 05 2019

32mins

Play

The Last Witness

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For this episode, Radiotopia gave all of us in the network a prompt: if we were to create another show, any show, what would it be? Well, we’d make an obituary show.

Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today.

#RadiotopiaForever

Nov 29 2019

10mins

Play

The Press is the Enemy

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Fifty years ago, on November 13, 1969, Spiro Agnew delivered the most famous speech ever given by a vice president. His message: the media is biased.

President Nixon was getting beaten up by the press, and in response, his administration had been trying to undercut the credibility of the media, especially television news.

The war between politicians and the media has a long history. Today on the podcast, the story of Agnew’s speech. Also, the story of Adlai Stevenson, a presidential candidate doomed to fail on this new-fangled thing called television.

Nov 13 2019

16mins

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The View from the 79th Floor

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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 crash prompted new legislation that – for the first time – gave citizens the right to sue the federal government.

Oct 17 2019

16mins

Play

The Dropped Wrench

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Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time.

It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo.

This story was produced in collaboration with This American Life.

***

If you enjoy this podcast, please consider making a donation to support our work! www.radiodiaries.org/donate

Thank you!

Oct 03 2019

41mins

Play

Prisoners of War

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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 bring you the incredible story.

Sep 19 2019

20mins

Play

The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel

Podcast cover
Read more

In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: "Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do." This collective portrait of America was based on more than a hundred interviews Studs did around the country.

Studs recorded all of his interviews on a reel-to-reel tape recorder, but after the book came out the tapes were packed away in boxes and forgotten for decades. A couple years ago, Radio Diaries and the organization Project& were given exclusive access to the tapes. On this episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast, we're bringing you eleven stories from Studs' Working tapes. There's the telephone switchboard operator, the Chicago police officer, the private eye, the hotel piano player and many more.

Sep 05 2019

59mins

Play

Stories from a Vanishing New York

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

Aug 22 2019

24mins

Play

Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed

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Today…there’s “The Squad.” But 50 years ago, there was only one woman of color in the U.S. Congress, and she was the first. Shirley Chisholm, of New York City, was elected to Congress in a historic victory in 1968. And like the squad...Chisholm made her voice heard.

In 1972, Chisholm launched a spirited campaign for the Democratic nomination. She was the first woman and first African American to run. Declaring herself “unbought and unbossed,” she took on the political establishment, declaring herself “the candidate of the people.”

Jul 25 2019

16mins

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The Square Deal

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100 years ago, George F. Johnson ran the biggest shoe factory in the world. The Endicott-Johnson Corporation in upstate New York produced 52 million pairs of shoes a year.

But Johnson wasn’t only known for his shoes. Johnson had an unusual theory at the time, about how workers should be treated. Some people called it “Welfare Capitalism.” He called it “The Square Deal.”

Jun 20 2019

17mins

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Amanda's Diary: Revisited

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

Jun 06 2019

21mins

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Last Witness: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

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On May 31, 1921, six-year-old Olivia Hooker was home with her family when a group of white men launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1000 homes and businesses. It’s estimated as many as 300 people were killed. The Tulsa Race Riot is considered one of the worst incidents of racial violence in American history. Olivia Hooker was the last surviving witness to the events of that day.

Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch. You can find us on Twitter and Facebook @RadioDiaries.

May 20 2019

9mins

Play

Juan's Diaries: Undocumented, Then and Now

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

May 02 2019

34mins

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The Bonus Army

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In 1932, 20,000 WWI veterans set up a tent city in Washington. They called themselves the Bonus Army.

See photos of the Bonus Army here: http://www.radiodiaries.org/march-of-the-bonus-army/

Apr 18 2019

16mins

Play

The Working Tapes

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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. He turned these interviews into a book called, “Working.” After the book was released in 1974, the tapes were packed away in Studs home office. A few years ago, we at Radio Diaries, along with our collaborator Jane Saks of Project&, were offered the chance to make a radio and podcast series out of the recordings. In today’s episode, we bring you some of our favorite stories from The Working Tapes.

Apr 04 2019

25mins

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The Story of Jane

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Before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade, abortions were illegal in most of the United States. But that didn't mean women didn't have them.

Hundreds of women were dying every year in botched abortions. In 1965, an underground network formed in Chicago to help women who wanted to have abortions, in a medically safe way.  At first, they connected women with doctors willing to break the law to perform the procedure. Eventually, women in the collective trained to perform abortions themselves.

Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast...The Story of Jane.

And a heads up -  this story includes some graphic descriptions that may not be appropriate for all listeners.

Mar 21 2019

14mins

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The Ski Troops of WWII

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

Mar 07 2019

25mins

Play

When Nazis Took Manhattan

Podcast cover
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On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro-American rally." Inside, on the stage, there was a 30-foot tall banner of George Washington, sandwiched between American flags...and two huge swastikas.

Today’s episode is a special collaboration with The Memory Palace.

***

This episode is sponsored by Care/Of, a monthly subscription vitamin service. For 50% off your first month, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter radiodiaries50.

Feb 20 2019

21mins

Play

A Voicemail Valentine

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Nowadays we’re very accustomed to recording and hearing the sound of our own voices. But in the 1930s many people were doing it for the first time. And a surprising trend began. People started sending their voices to each other, through the postal service. It was literally: voice-mail.

We recently combed through a large collection of early voicemail at the Phono Post Archive, and we discovered that many of these audio letters are about the same thing: Love.

***

This episode is supported by Robinhood, an investing app that lets you buy and sell stocks, ETFs, options, and cryptos, all commission-free. Sign up and get a free stock at diaries.robinhood.com.

Feb 11 2019

14mins

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The Border Wall

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Stories about walls and borders, and what happens when – instead of people crossing the border – the border crosses the people.

Act 1: Wrong Side of the Fence

Pamela Taylor technically lives in the U.S. But somehow, her house is on the Mexican side of the border wall.

Act 2: The Chamizal

Ever since Texas became a state, the Rio Grande has been the official border between the US and Mexico. The problem is, rivers can move – and that’s exactly what happened in 1864. Torrential rains caused the river to jump its banks and go south. All of a sudden, the border was in a different place… and that was a problem.

Featuring the song, “Chamizal Blues” by Bob Burns and the Tekewoods.

****

This episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast has support from Audible, the largest collection of audiobooks on the planet. Select from thousands of best sellers, mysteries, memories, wellness guides, histories and more.  

Try audible by downloading a book for free today. Go to Audible.com/diaries or text DIARIES to 500500.

Jan 16 2019

18mins

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