21 December 2006

The Miltyway - Airs January 3

As a child, independent producer Kristina Lund of Minneapolis received unusual gifts from her father: Recordings of her favorite songs. But not by the stars. By her father, Milt. In her audio essay, The Miltyway, Lund remembers those days. "My father was the most famous person I knew. His backup singers were Neil Diamond, Waylon Jennings and Tanya Tucker ... I felt a sense of pity for the other 4-year-olds in my neighborhood with their boring Dads. My father would present me with cassettes of his newest hits." Listen in as Milt sings, Lund remembers and a star isn't born.

14 December 2006

The One-Room School, Part 2 - Airs December 27

My mom rode a horse to a one-room school in rural South Dakota in the 1940s. While kids may not ride horses to one-room schools anymore (who knows ... maybe they do), they still exist. Reporter Neenah Ellis tells us that these tiny schools still serve a purpose in the American educational system. Farm kids depend on them. And educators look to one-room schools for clues about what might work at larger, urban and suburban schools. Emily Hanford at WUNC describes this documentary as "a gorgeous piece that is full of ideas yet moves ... gracefully from scene to scene."

07 December 2006

Cutting - Airs December 13


I'm not sure what to make of this piece by producer Amanda Wells and that's a good thing. It's eerie. It's educational. It's an inside look at how cutting, or self-mutilation, caught on at one American school. A girl named Christie described her initiation to cutting this way: "I had an eating disorder going on at the time ... I didn't know what else to do. I would binge and purge each night and that didn't help anymore. I needed something more. Why not cut?" The reporter says 1 out of 10 teens cuts. Come along for a wild ride. The story, and the other piece I'll air on December 13, are from KRCB Radio in Rohnert Park, California.

Off to the Army - Airs December 13


I listened to this story yesterday on PRX. I liked it so much I wrote this review: This piece made me chuckle in the first few moments. "Tell me the whole story in one minute," the producer says. So the protagonist, he says, "Got expelled from school. Failed out of JC. Got my ass whupped at a party. Went to Mapp's. Chilled with my girlfriend. Girlfriend cried. Now I'm here." This cool, loping beginning is reason enough to license this piece. It's real. It's not a story trying to be real. The interview continues of the protagonist, a young man, some kid in his late teens and he's telling this story in a lazy, out-of-body way while he's eating a taco or sandwich or something. After a few minutes (and by the title, of course) we figure out that this is a piece about why this boy/man joined the U.S. Army to become a soldier. "Do you think you afraid of dying?" asks the producer. "No. That part I don't mind." And then this tale takes an unexpected turn. It's no longer about war or signing up for the army, it's about something related, but completely different. I'm not satisfied with the ending, but maybe that's the point. I love this piece!

05 December 2006

Update on the Sunshine Hotel

On November 29, we aired a great piece on the Sunshine Hotel, one of the last flophouses in the SoHo neighborhood of New York. If you heard the show, and at the moment it's playing in the KFAI archives, you met Fat Anthony, a fellow so big he only wears a bedsheet. That documentary was recorded in 1998. Three years later, hotel manager Nathan Smith wrote producer David Isay with an update. "Fast coming are the days when all of this well be no more than a chapter in someone's book of memories of days gone by," writes Smith. There's also a link to Smith's actual letter.

29 November 2006

Between Friends - Airs December 6


Not all great radio comes from the U.S. On December 6, we'll air Between Friends from the CBC's Outfront series. In this first-person narrative, we hear a woman's dark secret from her childhood. By Neil Sandell and Jody Porter, this piece won a Radio Impact Award from the Third Coast International Audio Festival in 2006. I won't give away the secret, but this is a powerful 13 minutes of radio. Tune in.

Charlie's Story - Airs December 6

What's it like to live in a flophouse for 25 years? Listen in on Wednesday for Charlie's Story. Charlie Geter lived in the Palace Hotel in New York City. He's always had trouble completing things. After being handed a tape recorder to document his life, he procrastinates before finishing his goal: Telling his life story. You can hear this --- the last piece in our David Isay of Sound Portraits series --- on the Listening Lounge.

22 November 2006

The Sunshine Hotel - Airs November 29



Get an inside look at a skid row hotel. Producers Stacy Abramson and David Isay spent 24 hours at the Sunshine Hotel, one of the last flophouses in New York's Bowery neighborhood. "It was like stepping into King Tut's Tomb," Isay says. "The Sunshine is this fascinating, self-contained society full of unbelievable characters. While it's a profoundly sad place, it is, at the same time, home to men with powerful and poetic stories." Listen in on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. And don't forget to bring your own towels.

Witness to an Execution - My Review

I often take the time to review documentaries on the Public Radio Exchange (PRX). My review of Witness to an Execution can be read here. Feel free to add your own comments on this blog or become a member of PRX (it's free to listen and review) and share your insights with people who love great radio.

16 November 2006

Witness to an Execution - Airs November 22


Last week, we listened as David Isay visited a Louisiana prison where many inmates had been sentenced to life without parole. This week, we tag along as Isay interviews people who carry out executions at a Texas prison. Here's how Sound Portraits, Isay's production company, describes the documentary: "Witness to an Execution tells the stories of the men and women involved with the execution of deathrow inmates at the Walls Unit in Huntsville, Texas. Narrated by Warden Jim Willett, who oversees all Texas executions, Witness to an Execution documents, in minute-by-minute detail, the process of carrying out an execution by lethal injection. Most of the Texas Department of Criminal Justice employees interviewed have witnessed over one hundred inmates be put to death. One-third of all executions in the US have taken place in Texas, since the death penalty was reinstated in 1977." Chelesea Merz of Atlantic Public Media urges stations to air this insightful documentary: "This piece is too poetic to not leave you feeling something. The cumulative effect of images, and information leaves you breathless. As long as there is capital punishment in this country ... in the world, it is essential to broadcast this." So, we will.

09 November 2006

Tossing Away the Keys - Airs November 15


Every prisoner has his release date memorized. It's his future, his hope for a new beginning. But what about those condemned to life in prison? What do they think about? What are their days like? "I've been here so long that it's difficult to imagine what it feels like to be free," says inmate Joe White. "I don't think people can conceive what it's like to spend your whole life in prison." In this documentary, David Isay of Sound Portraits traveled to Angola State Penitentiary in Louisiana to examine life behind bars for those destined to be locked up until death. Reviewer Bill McKibben called it "a great piece of radio, one of the finest half hours around." Listen in to this program as David Isay month continues on the Listening Lounge.

01 November 2006

Ghetto Life 101 - Airs November 8


This is the documentary that started it all. David Isay's "Ghetto Life 101" transformed public radio docs in this country. Here's how Sound Portraits, Isay's nonprofit organization, describes this piece: "In March, 1993, LeAlan Jones, thirteen, and Lloyd Newman, fourteen, collaborated with public radio producer David Isay to create the radio documentary Ghetto Life 101, their audio diaries of life on Chicago's South Side. The candor in Jones and Newman's diaries brought listeners face to face with a portrait of poverty and danger and their effects on childhood in one of Chicago's worst housing projects. Like Vietnam War veterans in the bodies of young boys, Jones and Newman described the bitter truth about the sounds of machine guns at night and the effects of a thriving drug world on a community. Ghetto Life 101 became one of the most acclaimed programs in public radio history, winning almost all of the major awards in American broadcasting, including: the Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Ohio State Award, the Livingston Award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Awards for Excellence in Documentary Radio and Special Achievement in Radio Programming, and others. Ghetto Life 101 was also awarded the Prix Italia, Europe's oldest and most prestigious broadcasting award. It has been translated into a dozen languages and has been broadcast worldwide."

30 October 2006

Third Coast Winners


What timing! I attended the Third Coast International Audio Festival on Oct. 25-27 in Chicago. "My Lobotomy," by Piya Kochhar and David Isay of Sound Portraits won the Gold for Best Documentary of 2006. That documentary airs Wednesday on the Listening Lounge. It's really quite amazing. Howard Dully, a bus driver from California, was lobotomized at age 12 and is the subject of the story. He accepted the honor with Piya. Congratulations.

24 October 2006

My Lobotomy - Airs Nov. 1

On January 17, 1946 a psychiatrist named Walter J. Freeman launched a radical new era in the treatment of mental illness in this country. On that day he performed the first-ever transorbital or “ice pick” lobotomy in his Washington, D.C. office. After rendering his patient unconscious through electroshock, Freeman inserted an ice pick above the patient's eyeball, banged it through the eye socket into the brain, and then made cuts in the frontal lobes. Produced by David Isay of SoundPortraits, this documentary has been called "the most chilling radio story I have ever heard." Remember, November is David Isay Month on the Listening Lounge. In coming weeks, you'll hear documentaries on life in the ghetto, the emotional turmoil of murdering inmates on death row and other topics. Stay tuned.

18 October 2006

The Scary Plan - Airs Oct. 29


Get ready for Halloween with the eccentric Barrett Golding from Hearing Voices. He's the creator of The Plan, half-hour radio programs centered on specific topics. He's tackled sex, Elvis, hitchiking, jazz and Jesus. And now he's bringing us weird Halloween tales. This show features Lon Chaney, Jr., Alfred Hitchcock's "Ghost Stories for Young People," Marianne Faithful and more. One reviewer calls the show "ghoulish fun ... offbeat and quirky."

12 October 2006

David Isay


November is "David Isay Month" on the Listening Lounge. We'll be airing his best documentaries, including My Lobotomy, Ghetto Life 101, Sunshine Hotel, Tossing Away the Keys. You won't want to miss it. This is what his production company say about his approach: "Sound Portraits radio documentaries are audio profiles of men and women surviving in the margins. Told with care and dignity, the work depicts the lives of Americans living in communities often neglected or misunderstood. Sound Portraits frequently collaborates with people living in these hard-to-access corners of America, giving them tape recorders and microphones and helping them tell their own stories."

Legal Status: Airs 18 October 2006


Pledge drive continues on KFAI, so we'll have time to air just a couple of pieces. In July, we aired this intimate story from Veralyn Williams. He's what I wrote about the piece on PRX: "Here's another excellent piece from the "Radio Rookies" in New York City. Veralyn, a native of Sierra Leone, has lived in the U.S. almost her entire life. And that's the hitch. She wasn't born here. Her parents never got around to filling out the proper paperwork to make her official in the eyes of the government. "I've lived in American nearly all my life but it feels like I don't exist," she says. So Veralyn, a feisty teen, begins questioning the adults in her life. Her Dad admits to being "really laid back" when it comes to helping her secure citizenship. Her uncle yells at her about exploring the topic on the radio: "You could get yourself deported. Do you understand that September 11 has changed the rules of the game?" Her siblings, all born in the U.S., shrug their shoulders. What's the big deal? Get the green card, they say. A programmer looking to put a personal face on the country's immigration debate should strongly consider airing this story. At just over 10 minutes long, it eats up a lot of airtime, but listeners love well-told personal stories and this is one of them."

16 September 2006

What We Love - Airs 11 October 2006


As host of the Listening Lounge, I get to choose what airs on the program. This week, it's pledge drive at Fresh Air Radio, so we're airing favorites from the past few months as enticements (and rewards) for donating money to the best darn radio station in the country. We're sure to air Just Another Fish Story, an offbeat tale of a dead whale on a Maine beach and In a Bubble, an inside look at the lives of really shy teenagers. So join us for this edition of the Listening Lounge. And don't forget to pledge your support to KFAI Fresh Air Radio. You can pledge online too.

The Music Boat Man - Airs 4 October 2006



Meet Reinier, the Music Boat Man of Amsterdam. He's an eccentric man who travels the canals of this great European city playing the barrel organ, trumpet and conch. Says Reinier, "I try to make as beautiful as possible my music." What a wonderful goal that is! Find out if he succeeds by coming along for a ride with producer Dheera Sujan of Radio Netherlands as she discovers the musical wonders of the Music Boat Man.

Movin' Out the Bricks - Airs 27 September 2006


In this documentary, producers Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister of Long Haul Productions follow Coco and her family as she moves "out the bricks" of Stateway Gardens high-rise public housing to a private market apartment. PRX Editorial Board Member Dmae Roberts describes this story as one that's handled with "tenderness, care and professionalism. It's the small stories that can often be bigger than the headlines of the day. This is no exception." A few months ago, we aired another story by this producing pair: House of Pain. It's also about living in Chicago Public Housing. And it's definitely worth a listen.

Domestic Violence in Hmong Society: Airs 20 September 2006


Tsim Txom: Domestic Violence in Hmong Society is a story of arranged marriages. Produced by Brian Bull of Wisconsin Public Radio, this riveting documentary quotes a young bride as saying: "My mom mentioned that I'm only 13. I wouldn't know what to do, what to cook and so that they needed to teach me... Once I was married to him and told to go cook a certain meal and I didn't know, they would say, 'How come I'm such a stupid wife.'" This documentary won a regional Edward R. Murrow award for best large market radio documentary.

08 September 2006

Hip-Hop in Unusual Places - Airs 13 September 2006


Many people still consider hip-hop to be just an urban thing. This half-hour of the Listening Lounge is designed to dispell that myth. We begin with a piece called Story of a Yup'ik Eskimo Rapper, produced by Ashley Gross of Alaska Public Radio. Gross describes the piece this way: "This story takes us into the life of Jaye Ulak, a 20-year-old Yup'ik Eskimo man from the Bering Sea village of Scammon Bay. Like many other young Alaska Natives, Ulak has tried to kill himself. But he found a way out - through music. And then his life takes another surprising turn." And then we're off to Duluth, Minnesota to meet singers who rap about camp fires and chilli in Hip-Hop in Hunting Boots. We round out the show with Hop Fu and the Asia-Hip Hop Connection, produced by Michael Jones. This piece examines how Asian hip-hop has been influenced by 1970s Kung Fu movies. Wow! I can't wait for this show.

24 August 2006

From Brooklyn to Banja Luka - Aired 6 September 2006


This program is an endearing, yet unsentimental, 30 minutes of radio. Created by Radio Netherlands International, producer Dheera Sujan interviews an interracial, international 30-something couple. He's from Brooklyn. She's from Banja Luka. In this quasi-documentary, the couple talk bluntly about what attracted them to each other and what they now love and hate about each other. I first heard this program in Berlin, at a radio festival called Prix Europa. It had dozens of Europeans (and a few Americans) laughing and loving it.

Cooking with MOMbo - Aired 30 August 2006


Dare I say it? Autumn isn't too far away. (Here in Minnesota, one is usually a realist.) With the harvest upon us, we thought it would be nice to take a break from documentaries and learn how to prepare a nutritional, hearty meal. That's why we're airing Cooking with MOMbo by Nance Olesen in Minneapolis. Olesen knows seemingly everything about parenting; she's the long-time host of the MOMbo radio show, which has morphed into a great radio enterprise. Its mission: "MOMbo broadasts the everyday truth about motherhood (in order to change the world)."

Hurricane Katrina Anniversary > Aired 23 August 2006


This week, we start off with two Hurricane Katrina stories. The first, Katrina Photojournalist, is an interview with Times-Picauyne photographer John McCusker, one of the few staffers to stick around and cover New Orleans throughout the hurricane and subsequent flooding. In Rebuilding NOLA, Adeline Goss records an audio diary of building homes in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity for musicians. We follow up those pieces with Residence Elsewhere, a story of urban nomads contemplating staying or leaving, produced by Joan Schumnan. Finally, we take a minute to really slow down and listen to a man as he builds his mother's casket. It's a short piece from the Salt Institute's pause series, Bringing the Work into You by Megan Martin.

16 August 2006

Aboriginal Australians > Aired 16 August 2006


In this hour-long documentary from Radio Netherlands, Dheera Sujan brings us back to her native Australia with two deeply moving stories. Both are personal accounts of Aboriginals, who - like many older generation Native Americans in the US - were taken from their homes at an early age and 'relocated' to be schooled and molded into mainstream white culture. Part 1 is the story of the Collard family, whose children were separated. While one suffered abuse and neglect, another was brought up in the white way. Today the children and their parents are trying to come to terms with being worlds apart. In Part 2, Archie Roach and Ruby Hunter met on the streets when they were both teenagers and they’ve been together ever since. They’re amongst the “lucky ones” as they’ve managed to channel their pain into their music. The programme is liberally sprinkled with the songs that Archie wrote and sings together with Ruby.

19 July 2006

The Plan - Jesus - Aired on 2 August 2006


Way out in Montana, at a little radio station called KGLT, independent producer Barratt Golding produces some very fine work. It's also a bit strange and that's why I like to air it. He's fond of quirky, creative producers. In this show (his new series is called "The Plan"), Golding focuses on the life of Him. (That capital "H" is intentional.) Him, of course, is our Lord and Savior, Jesus. This piece includes an excerpt from the band King Missle and a song called "Jesus Was Way Cool." Sample lyrics: "He turned water into wine. And if he wanted to he could have turned wheat into marijuana or sugar into cocaine or vitamin pills into amphetamines." You get the idea. This show also includes a story from the legendary Scott Carrier.

Offbeat Environmental Stories from the GLRC - Aired 26 July 2006


Many radio and print stories on environmental issues are tough to relate to for nonscientists. (And that includes me, I worked my butt off just to get a C in a college course called "Physics for Poets.") This show features stories from GLRC, the Great Lakes Radio Consortium that are far from typical. Reporter Rebecca Williams ponders a question many of us have faced: How Long Do You Keep a Polluting Heap? In this story, we ride along with Rebecca as mechanics and other experts tell her about all the environmental damage her piece-of-crap rust bucket is inflicting on the environment. This show also includes Prairie Burn Audio Postcard, a great aural experience produced by Mark Brush. GLRC does a lot of great work. If you want to track environmental issues on a regular basis, listen to their stories. A list of stations can be found here.

18 July 2006

The House of Pain: Aired July 19


If you've ever driven through Chicago's South Side on the Dan Ryan Expressway, you've seen the towers. The high-rise public housing that dominates neighborhoods and imprisons people. What's it like to live there? This documentary takes you there. Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister of Long Haul Productions produced this piece, which won an Edward R. Murrow award a few years ago. The story is narrated by a man who lives there. His name is Andre Williams. When you listen to his story, you'll get closer to the people who lived in the place that gangbangers call The House of Pain, also known as Stateway Gardens. This piece originally aired in 2002. One year later, the producers returned to Stateway to find out what happened to people forced to leave. That doc is called Movin' Out the Bricks and also originally aired on Chicago Public Radio.

12 July 2006

Youth Radio! > Aired 12 July 2006


This week we air five short pieces by or about youth. Fashion Obsession by Shakima Swain-Ridley gives us insight into the importance of teen fashion. At Risk Youth Design Sweatshop-Free Fashions by Jim Moses features a community arts prgram in Rhode Island that helps at-risk youth create clothing with an anti-sweatshop message. Blunt Youth Radio Project producer Sarah Smith seriously considered dropping out of high school in her piece, Hopeless in High School. The last two pieces are by Sarah Elzas, who delves inside the world of teen moms in School for Little Wanderers and Cathy, 16, Mom.

05 July 2006

American Exceptionalism > Aired 5 July 2006


We are re-broadcasting this program from the Theory of Everything about the attempt to understand American Exceptionalism. It seems to work with Independence Day holiday... There are some great segments - a "recess appointment party" for John Bolton last summer, Howard Zinn explains that American Exceptionalism is a Myth, Dennis Madalone sings an exceptional new American Anthem, and host Benjamen Walker checks out the right wing blogosphere and comes up EMPTY.

Moving the Village > Aired 28 June 2006

Global Warming! Temperatures in Alaska have risen three-to-four times faster than the rest of the globe over the last 50 years. The people of Shishmaref have been called the first American refugees from global warming. Chronic erosion and flooding driven by climate change is making this remote Alaska village uninhabitable. In Moving the Village, the Inupiaq Eskimo community of Shishmaref wants to pick up their village, and put it down somewhere safe. This piece has amazing natural sound and does a great job of examining all of the issues involved in moving Shishmaref.

16 June 2006

Shy, Undocumented and Angry>Aired 21 June 2006


With this show, we focused on teen angst. We started with Hillary Frank's In a Bubble. In this moving piece, she records thoughts that are rarely spoken by asking questions of the introverted. These quiet voices shine in Frank's story. Then we move to Legal Status by Veralyn Williams, a Radio Rookie from WYNC. She uncovers, with little help from her parents, what she can and can't do as an immigrant from Sierra Leone. The show ends with a harrowing piece from another Radio Rookie at WNYC: Derrick Hewitt (pictured). In Aggression, we quickly learn how difficult it is for 14-year-old Derrick to control his rage. We hear him interview his little brother about fights. However, the interview turns into a beating as Derrick bangs his brother with the microphone. It's painful to hear.

Father's Day>Aired 14 June 2006


Jake Warga has a problem with Father's Day. The celebration, he writes, "will eventually become a 'holiday' to remind us of what's missing." After his father died, Jake found an old cassette tape. On the tape was an interview his Dad made with him while he was a toddler. Jake's story was one of several rifts on Dad we aired. Others include essays by Jay Allison, Nance Olesen and a piece called My Dad's Records, which aired on the CBC's Outfront show. We also aired a bit of Paul Westerberg singing about his old man ("My Dad" from the Folker album). Happy Dad's Day.

Flatlined: How Illinois Shortchanges Rural Students>Aired 7 June 2006


What happens when a high school doesn't offer students classes like Spanish and calculus? Zach Lotz (left) of La Harpe, Illinois says it leaves him unprepared for college. And that's one reason he's joining the Army. In LaHarpe, located about halfway between Chicago and St. Louis, high school students don't have access to classes suburban kids take for granted. That's because La Harpe's homes and farms generate less property tax revenue for the schools than they did about 20 years ago. It's also because Illinois does little to equalize spending among school districts. This documentary originally aired on Chicago Public Radio as part of the Chicago Matters: Valuing Education series. It was produced by Todd Melby and Diane Richard.

31 May 2006

Memorial Day stories > Aired 31 May 2006


The first piece comes from Radio Diaries producer Joe Richman. The WASPS: Women Pilots of WW II is the story of the first female pilots in World War II. Our second piece is the story of Lavinia Gelineau and the loss of her husband Chris, a young soldier killed in Iraq. The Cost of War was produced by Blunt Youth Radio Project producer S. Spencer Scott.

17 May 2006

Crossing East: Refuge from War > Aired May 17 and 24, 2006


The Vietnam War and related political upheavals caused devastation throughout Southeast Asia. Vietnamese, Cambodian, and Laotian families often had no choice but to seek a new life in America. Vietnamese left on crowded boats, braving pirates. In refugee camps, they met with Mien and Hmong from Laos who had helped the CIA during the war and feared for their lives. Cambodians either fled the Khmer Rouge regime or left after it ended. These immigrants had to negotiate a new country with little notice. US government systems were swamped with new languages and cultures, and in Minneapolis and other cities, Hmong from Laos are still arriving. Hosted by Margaret Cho.

The Whale Plan > Aired 3 May 2006

After the excellent "Just Another Story About a Fish," we play Barrett Golding's show on whales, "The Whale Plan".

Salt Institute pieces > Aired 26 April 2006

This program featured stories produced by graduates from the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies. Students at this Maine-based school use the surrounding towns as radio laboratory, recording the people and their stories. We found the following pieces on the Public Radio Exchange: "Just Another Story About a Fish" and "75 State Street Salon"

08 May 2006

A Tribute to Spalding Gray > Aired 10 May 2006




The documentary, "A Tribute to Spalding Gray", is an inside look at the troubled life of performance artist Spalding Gray. The writer wowed audiences with his monologues, including "Swimming to Cambodia."

12 April 2006

Crime Pays > Aired April 12 & 19, 2006


Crime Pays: A Look At Who's Getting Rich From the Prison Boom takes an in-depth look at the corporations that have profited so greatly from the prison system: private prison corporations, telephone companies, for-profit prison health care services, private prison transportation companies and corporate vendors. Crime Pays was written and produced by JoAnn Mar in collaboration with Grassroots Leadership. This documentary will air in two parts on April 12 and 19 on the Listening Lounge, KFAI, Wednesdays at 11:30am.

05 April 2006

Lies and Secrets > Aired 5 April 2006


The Lies My Grandma Told Me is an examination of what makes a lie and why we tell them. How can you tell a lie from the truth? Does it really matter? Local producer Kristina Lundino recorded this piece with John Gerlach on a reel-to-reel. We will also be re-airing a piece called Keeping Secrets by producer Aaron Henkin. Keeping Secrets is an extended interview with artist Frank Warren, who has become the recipient of thousands of secrets submitted from anonymous individuals by postcard. (4/3/06)

28 March 2006

Reflections on Return > Aired 29 March 2006


Welcome to a special KFAI pledge drive edition of Listening Lounge. We are pleased to air selections from Reflections on Return. An Iraqi war veteran struggles to adjust to life in the United States again. American troops reflect on the abuse at Abu Ghraib prison. And three African-American soilders tell their stories of the Iraq war. Reflections on Return is a Youth Radio project.

Taming the Snake > Aired 22 March 2006


Heroin addicts often bring to mind images of disheveled homeless people littering city parks and doorways. The truth is that intravenous drug use and heroin addiction is everywhere. Taming the Snake is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning documentary.

19 March 2006

True Story of St. Patrick > Aired 15 Mar 2006

Spend St. Patrick's Day boozing in Butte, Montana and you might think it's a good idea to explore empty buildings at night. Listen to the "True Story of St. Patrick" --- a tale of drinking, adventure and incarceration ---- on the Listening Lounge.

26 February 2006

Maxey's Mansion > Aired 1 March 2006


Alva Maxey-Boyd, now in her nineties, defied race covenants, urban renewal bulldozers, and two Mayor Daleys in a seven-decade battle to get and keep her gorgeous 19th-century mansion. Now, she's left as the last resident on her block of Chicago's South Prairie Avenue. Produced by Dan Collison and Elizabeth Meister of Long Haul Productions.

Black History Month: Mandela > Aired 22 Feb 2006



Mandela: An Audio History is narrated by Desmond Tutu and is the story of South Africa's struggle against apartheid, told in the words of Nelson Mandela, as well as those who fought with him - and against him. 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).

Mandela: An Audio History was produced by Radio Diaries.

13 February 2006

Black History Month: Race > Aired 15 Feb 2006


We go back to (((Hearing Voices))) this week for a special Black History Month program. The Plan - Race contains the following four pieces: *Living Flag- In her street performance, "living flag," artist damali ayo collects reparations for the enslavement of African Americans by panhandling from white people and distributing the payments to black people. Her stage is a busy city sidewalk corner anywhere in the U.S.. damali ayo presents the images and text of her performance art piece and teamed up with Producer Dmae Roberts to document this audio of the street. Stoplight Politics is a poem from Ruth Forman who won the Barnard Poetry Prize in 1993. *Jeff, Hafrican- As part of the series, Teenage Diaries, producer Joe Richman gave tape recorders to teenagers to document their lives: Jeff Rodgers is sixteen, and lives with his family in Boston. More and more these days he finds himself thinking about race and being forced to answer the question "What are you?" This is his radio diary. *A Prohibition- Three Carleton College (Chicago) students reflect on what it means to be "Black".

08 February 2006

Love's Labors > Aired 8 Feb 2006


A (((Hearing Voices))) special for Valentine's Day: Love's Labors. The Kitchen Sisters find "Love & Marriage Atop the Trade Towers". Jessica & Scott Carrier's have a "Parent & Child" discussion. Amy Dickinson joins the "Leftover Brides" at a mass Moonie marriage. Special thanks to BG. To hear the complete special, visit hearingvoices.com

01 February 2006

Black History Oral History > Aired 1 Feb 2006


In honor of Black History Month, Listening Lounge brings you Port Chicago 50: An Oral History On July 17, 1944, two Liberty ships anchored at the Port Chicago Munitions Case near San Francisco exploded, killing 320 men and injuring 390. It was the worst homefront disaster of World War II. A majority of the casualties were African-American sailors who loaded ammunition onto the ships at Port Chicago. Shortly after the explosion, the African-American munitions loaders who survived were transferred to a nearby base and ordered back to work. Shaken by the death of their workmates and afraid that another explosion might occur, 50 men refused. In the largest courtmartial in Navy history, they were all convicted of mutiny and sentenced to up to fifteen years of hard labor. In January 1946, only months after the war ended, all convicted men's sentences were suspended as part of a general amnesty. While these men were allowed to return to civilian life, they were left angry, ashamed, and afraid they would be fired from their jobs or worried that they would be seen as unpatriotic. As a result, some did not discuss the case, even with family members, for more than 50 years. This is the story of five of these men. Produced by Dan Collison of Long Haul Productions.

25 January 2006

Snelby > Aired 25 Jan 2006

Locally-produced radio today on Listening Lounge. Dedicated KFAI volunteer Bill Lindeke continues our local street-corners theme with a documentary exploring the intersection of Snelling and Selby in Saint Paul. Filled with the sounds of place, this piece connects us to the history and stories of a neighborhood through interviews with small business owners.

18 January 2006

Mongolia Exchanges > Aired 18 Jan 2006

We dug deep and pulled together three documentaries describing cultural exchanges between Mongolia and the US. Exchanges between cowboy musicians, healers and radio stations.
From Sagebrush to Steppe produced by Hal Cannon of the Western Folklife Center In September 2005, a group of American cowboys traveled to Mongolia for a musical exchange.
Shamans by Allan Coukell introduces us to two shamans: one living a traditional life among the reindeer herders, one with a tent 'clinic' in the capital city. It also tells how a bunch of westerners set off on a foolish errand to save a couple of poisoned kids.
Finally, Massachusetts/Mongolia Sister Project from Jay Allison and Viki Merrick of Atlantic Public Media and WCAI/WNAN. A public radio station in Massachusetts pioneered a unique radio exchange with Gobi Wave, a Developing Radio Partners -supported station in Mongolia. We love the idea of exchanging local, everyday sounds across so many miles, something that ties two places together in the minds of each station's listeners. What a creative use of the possibilities new technology lays open to us. You may notice that the story we aired and all these links point to the very beginnings of this exchange, and imply there is much "more to come". Unfortunately, LL has learned that the post-script to this story reminds us that technology's limitations sometimes trump its potential. The sister station project was scuttled when Gobi Wave's computer servers failed to live up to the new demands placed on them.

11 January 2006

Secrets/Suicide > Aired Jan 11 2006

This week, two stories in a somber vein. Post Secrets by producer Aaron Henkin is an extended interview with artist Frank Warren, who has become the recipient of thousands of secrets submitted from anonymous individuals by postcard. We highly recommend you take a look at his site, because the visual aspect of many of these postcard secrets is really remarkable. This image of Frida is one example. Next, Four Seconds: Suicide off the Golden Gate Bridge a portrait of a friend and a personal struggle for meaning from Jake Warga. Subtle, moving and beautifully crafted.

04 January 2006

Ukraine Democracy > Aired 4 Jan 2006


The orange-revolution, led by Viktor Yushchenko, was a dramatic expression of people power. How much more democratic can political action get than in the mass exercise of the popular will?

This week we continue with the BBC series Looking for Democracy. Robin Lustig produced this week's piece, Ukraine: People's Democracy (including an interesting parallel between borscht and democratic governance).

The conditions were all in place for the campaign of street protests to be effective. There was a charismatic leader figure, a growing and educated middle class, an independent (enough) judiciary - and, a point often overlooked, a renewed pride in the country (a result, not least, of triumph in the Eurovision song contest). And yet there are real drawbacks to people power. The expectations on Yuschenko to deliver are now immense - far more so than if his victory had arisen purely through the ballot box.

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We finish with Thomas Grove's Return to Shaklat.