Rank #1: The Last Place
When you spend so much of your life getting to the next stage, thinking about the next move, what is it like to find yourself in…the Last Place? In this episode, we bring you audio diaries from a retirement home.
Sep 21 2017
Rank #2: Majd’s Diary: Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl
Majd Abdulghani is a teenager living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. She wants to be a scientist. Her family wants to arrange her marriage. From the age of 19 to 21, Majd has been chronicling her life with a microphone, taking us inside a society where the voices of women are rarely heard. In her audio diary, Majd documents everything from arguments with her brother about how much she should cover herself in front of men, to late night thoughts about loneliness, arranged marriages, and the possibility of true love.
Nov 21 2017
Rank #3: Teenage Diaries Revisited: Melissa
As an 18-year-old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Issaiah. Over the past 16 years Melissa and her son have faced many challenges, from eviction notices to her son’s life-threatening medical diagnosis. In this podcast episode, listen to Melissa’s Teenage Diary and her new ‘grown-up’ diary from Teenage Diaries Revisited. Plus, Joe interviews Melissa about the process of documenting her life over the years.
Jun 12 2013
Rank #4: Serving 9-5: Diaries from Prison Guards
Polk Youth Institution in Butner, North Carolina is a prison for young men between the ages of 19-25. For our series Prison Diaries, I gave tape recorders to a handful of inmates at Polk to tell the story of life behind bars. After visiting the prison for a few months, I realized I had been overlooking the stories of the guards. Pretty much every guard I talked to said they serve time too – in eight hour shifts. In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, listen to the audio diaries of prison guards.
Oct 22 2015
Rank #5: Identical Strangers
Paula Bernstein and Elyse Schein were both born in New York City and adopted as infants. When they were 35 years old, they met and found they were “identical strangers.”
Feb 18 2016
Rank #6: The Dropped Wrench
Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time.
It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo.
This story was produced in collaboration with This American Life.
If you enjoy this podcast, please consider making a donation to support our work! www.radiodiaries.org/donate
Oct 03 2019
Rank #7: Burma ’88: Buried History
25 years ago, university students in Burma sparked a countrywide uprising. They called for a nationwide strike on 8/8/88, a date they chose for its numerological power.
Aug 08 2013
Rank #8: Strange Fruit – Voices of a Lynching
The images coming out of Ferguson, MO this summer have reminded us of another upsetting image of race in America. It’s a photograph that was taken just a few hours from Ferguson, but eight decades ago…and it inspired the Billie Holiday song, Strange Fruit.
Listen to our story (and be advised that it is disturbing.)
Aug 25 2014
Rank #9: Working, Then and Now
In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country, tape recorder in hand, interviewing people about their jobs. Studs collected more than 130 interviews, and the result was a book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do.” And – something unprecedented for an oral history collection – it became a bestseller. In this episode of The Radio Diaries Podcast, we bring you two of the lost interviews that never made it into the book: Helen Moog, a taxi driver and grandmother of five who happened to drive Studs to the Youngstown, OH airport; and Lovin’ Al Pommier, a “car hiker.”
Sep 01 2014
Rank #10: Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima
On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It was the first time a nuclear weapon had been used in warfare. There were three strike planes that flew over Hiroshima that day: the Enola Gay which carried the bomb, and two escort planes, the Great Artiste and the Necessary Evil. Russell Gackenbach was a Second Lieutenant and a navigator on the mission. Today, he is the only surviving crew member from those three planes.
Know someone who’d make a good Last Witness? Get in touch! You can find us on Twitter and Facebook, use the hashtag #LastWitness.
Aug 06 2018
Rank #11: Crime Pays
This month’s podcast is about what it takes to get people to change. We focus on a group of people that might be the hardest to change – or at least they’ve had the most money thrown at them in hopes of change: Criminals.
Back in 2006, Richmond, CA was named the ninth most dangerous city in the country, with 42 murders for a population of about 100,000. Then they brought in a new police chief and started doing all kinds of things differently. And it worked. Homicides are now a third of what they were. Crime has dropped in a way that is dramatic and impressive. And police say that one of the things that helped is a program called the Office of Neighborhood Safety, or ONS. That’s a bland name for what is actually a very unusual program with one particular tactic that you do not hear about people trying very often: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds crazy, but the even crazier part is…it works.
This story originally aired on This American Life, in the episode, The Incredible Rarity of Changing Your Mind. Thanks to Ira Glass and the entire staff of This American Life for their help on this story.
Sep 11 2015
Rank #12: When Nazis Took Manhattan
On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro-American rally." Inside, on the stage, there was a 30-foot tall banner of George Washington, sandwiched between American flags...and two huge swastikas.
Today’s episode is a special collaboration with The Memory Palace.
This episode is sponsored by Care/Of, a monthly subscription vitamin service. For 50% off your first month, go to TakeCareOf.com and enter radiodiaries50.
Feb 20 2019
Rank #13: The Press is the Enemy
Fifty years ago, on November 13, 1969, Spiro Agnew delivered the most famous speech ever given by a vice president. His message: the media is biased.
President Nixon was getting beaten up by the press, and in response, his administration had been trying to undercut the credibility of the media, especially television news.
The war between politicians and the media has a long history. Today on the podcast, the story of Agnew’s speech. Also, the story of Adlai Stevenson, a presidential candidate doomed to fail on this new-fangled thing called television.
Nov 13 2019
Rank #14: Busman’s Holiday
The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947, left his regular route in the Bronx, and drove his municipal bus down to Florida. This story originally aired on This American Life.
Radio Diaries is a non-profit organization. We couldn’t do this work without support from our listeners. If you like this podcast, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution before December 31st. Go to www.radiodiaries.org to donate.
Dec 20 2016
Rank #15: The Working Tapes – Part 1
An auto union worker, a switchboard telephone operator, a press agent…
In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs for his book, “Working.” It was a surprise bestseller. But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before.
For decades, the reel-to-reel tapes were packed away in Terkel’s home office. Over the past year, Radio Diaries, along with Project&, combed through them to produce a new NPR series. This is the first of a three-part podcast series on The Working Tapes.
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Sep 30 2016
Rank #16: When Borders Move
What happens when, instead of people crossing the border, the border crosses the people? In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, two stories from the U.S.-Mexico border.
Oct 06 2014
Rank #17: First Kiss
Josh Cutler has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. In this episode, listen to his teenage diary about getting his first kiss.
“What I have here is an envelope on which this girl Nicole wrote down instructions on how to kiss. It says: ‘pucker lips, slowly open mouth, slowly slide tongue in, repeat steps 1, 2, and 3.’ She made that list for me because I made out with her and she said I was doing it wrong. So I guess that’s the main thing I learned this summer.”
Feb 12 2015
Rank #18: The View from the 79th Floor
On July 28, 1945 an Army bomber pilot on a routine ferry mission found himself lost in the fog over Manhattan. A dictation machine in a nearby office happened to capture the sound of the plane as it hit the Empire State Building at the 79th floor.
Fourteen people were killed. Debris from the plane severed the cables of an elevator, which fell 79 stories with a young woman inside. She survived. The crash prompted new legislation that – for the first time – gave citizens the right to sue the federal government.
Oct 17 2019
Rank #19: Strange Fruit, Revisited
Over the past few years, there’s been a movement to tear down the Confederate monuments dotted all over the south. At the same time, there are some new monuments going up. On April 26, the nation’s first lynching memorial will open in Montgomery, Alabama. It’s called the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, and it pays tribute to the more than 4,400 black people who were killed by lynch mobs between 1877 and 1950. Visitors will walk underneath more than 800 suspended columns, each representing a county where a lynching occurred.
One of those columns represents a lynching in Marion, Indiana. It’s the lynching that inspired the song, Strange Fruit. And it’s the only known lynching where a person survived. His name was James Cameron. This is his story – and the story of the white residents who witnessed and took part in the events of that day.
This is Strange Fruit.
Apr 19 2018
Rank #20: Last Man on the Mountain – Updated
A few years ago, we produced a story about the greatest underdog we’d ever met: Jimmy Weekley.
Jimmy was the last remaining resident of Pigeonroost Hollow, West Virginia. Jimmy spent most of the last two decades fighting one of the largest coal companies in the country in an attempt to save his hometown. He said he was born in Pigeonroost Hollow, and he planned to die there. This year, he did. He was 74. Today on the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering Jimmy Weekley, The Last Man on the Mountain.
Dec 11 2014