Radio Diaries

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Founded by Joe Richman, Radio Diaries has been giving people tape recorders and working with them to report on their own lives and histories for almost two decades. 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. Radio Diaries has won every major award in broadcast journalism and produced some of the most memorable documentaries ever heard on public radio. Our stories are broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered, This American Life, BBC, and on The Radio Diaries Podcast. We also publish educational materials, including the Teen Reporter Handbook. Radio Diaries is a not-for-profit organization.

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Teenage DiariesTeenage Diaries
Since 1996, the Teenage Diaries series has given tape recorders to young people around the country. They conduct interviews, keep audio journals, and record the sounds of daily life — usually collecting more than 30 hours of raw tape over the course of a year, edited into documentaries airing on NPR’s All Things Considered. Whether it’s the story of Amanda, a gay teen trying to understand her sexuality, or the story of Juan, who crossed the Rio Grande with his family illegally, these stories offer insight into the mysterious life of teenagers.

Teenage Diaries RevisitedTeenage Diaries Revisited
16 years ago, Radio Diaries gave a group of young people tape recorders to report on their own lives for our NPR series, Teenage Diaries. Five of the diarists return to chronicle their grown-up lives in Teenage Diaries Revisited. A lot of life happens in 16 years.

Mandela: An Audio History
"Mandela: An Audio History" is a groundbreaking project that weaves together an unprecedented collection of archival sound materials documenting and preserving the story of Nelson Mandela and the struggle against apartheid. Hear a rare recording of the 1964 trial that resulted in Mandela's life sentence; a visit between Mandela and his wife, Winnie, secretly recorded by a prison guard; marching songs of guerilla soldiers; government propaganda films; and pirate radio broadcasts from the African National Conference (ANC).

There have been 43 presidents in American history. But the names of the hundreds who sought the office – and lost – are often forgotten. "Contenders" tells the stories of some of the most groundbreaking and unusual presidential candidates from elections past.

CristelPrison Diaries
Five inmates, four correctional officers and a judge were given tape recorders. For six months, the diarists kept audio journals and recorded the sounds and scenes of everyday life behind bars: shakedowns, new inmate arrivals, roll call, monthly family visits, meals at the chow hall, and quiet moments late at night inside a cell.

New York Works: Audio Portraits of a Vanishing City

94-year old Selma Koch runs one of New York's last old-style bra fitting shops. Walter Backerman still delivers seltzer along the same route worked by his father and grandfather. Frank Sabatino is one of two commercial fisherman left in Jamaica Bay. Charlie Zimmerman builds the rooftop water tanks that dot Manhattan's skyline. New York Works tells the stories of those who keep the city's past alive.

Willie McGeeAudio HistoriesThese audio documentaries weave together oral histories and archival tape to bring the past to life. From World War II to the Civil Rights movement, from the mining industry to the music industry, this series shares a rich, in depth look into our history. 



Caption: Studs Terkel
12 Pieces

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people for his book "Working." But until now, few of these interviews have ever been heard before.


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Alberta Martin and Daisy Anderson are the last living Civil War Widows.

Bought by WXAV 88.3FM,, WNPR, The Story, KRCB-FM "Radio 91" and more

  • Added: Dec 07, 2003
  • Length: 12:59
  • Purchases: 14
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The NBA, now a multi-billion dollar entertainment industry, looked very different a half century ago.

Bought by Third Coast Festival/Re:sound (Outside Purchaser), Remix Radio, and WOUB

  • Added: Dec 07, 2003
  • Length: 18:59
  • Purchases: 3
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A group of residents of The Presbyterian Home in Evanston, Illinois use tape recorders to document their lives in retirement.

Bought by KGNU, Remix Radio, KGLT, KVNF, KFAI and more

  • Added: Dec 07, 2003
  • Length: 27:24
  • Purchases: 6
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A 26-year-old Los Angeles resident gets deported to his parents' home country of El Salvador, which he has not seen since age five.

Bought by KGNU, KUT, Remix Radio, Space Gallery, KUNM and more

  • Added: Dec 07, 2003
  • Length: 31:42
  • Purchases: 6
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Look up from nearly any street in Manhattan and you'll see the rooftop wooden water tanks that Charlie Zimmerman has been installing for 23 years.

Bought by The Story, PRX Remix, Remix Radio, PRX to iTunes, and WFUV

  • Added: Dec 07, 2003
  • Length: 06:05
  • Purchases: 5
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The story of the first female pilots in WWII.

Bought by KVSC, KALW, KISU, KVSC, Marfa Public Radio and more

  • Added: Nov 24, 2003
  • Length: 22:42
  • Purchases: 42
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When Walter's grandfather drove his cart there were thousands of seltzer men in the city; today Walter is one of the last.

Bought by WNPR, PRX Remix, PRX to iTunes, and WFUV

  • Added: Oct 29, 2003
  • Length: 12:27
  • Purchases: 4