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. 



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10 Pieces

The extraordinary stories of ordinary life.

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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The 1952 presidential campaign pitted the immensely popular General Dwight D. Eisenhower against the ferociously intellectual and intensely private...

Bought by New Hampshire Public Radio,, WXAV 88.3FM, PRX Remix, WDET Detroit Public Radio and more

  • Added: Oct 16, 2012
  • Length: 07:36
  • Purchases: 6
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In 1940 the United States was just emerging from the shadow of the Great Depression and war loomed in Europe. Into these serious times stepped Grac...

Bought by KBCS 91.3 FM Community Radio, WEZU, New Hampshire Public Radio, Troy Public Radio, WXAV 88.3FM and more

  • Added: Oct 16, 2012
  • Length: 05:12
  • Purchases: 10
Caption: Claressa Shields, Credit: Sue Jaye Johnson
Boxing has been an Olympic sport since the time of the ancient Greeks. But only men have taken part. This year, that changes. For the first time ev...

Bought by WXDU, KUOW, PRX Remix, KGOU, KUT and more

  • Added: Jul 19, 2012
  • Length: 15:53
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: Impact Site of Plane
On the morning of July 28, 1945 a B-25 bomber left Massachusetts and headed to New York City on a routine ferry mission. Lost in the fog over Manha...

Bought by KFAI and HowSound

  • Added: Sep 27, 2011
  • Length: 11:47
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: Bridgette McGee holds a photo of her grandfather, Credit: Teri Havens
In 1951, Willie McGee was executed in Mississippi's traveling electric chair for raping a white woman. Six decades later, his granddaughter is on a...

Bought by WCAI / WNAN, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, KUT, WRPI, KUOW and more

  • Added: Oct 12, 2010
  • Length: 22:59
  • Purchases: 8
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In the summer of 1968, students in Mexico began to challenge the country's authoritarian government. But the movement was short-lived, lasting less...

Bought by KVSC, Marfa Public Radio, KUT, KCRW, PRX Remix and more

  • Added: Jul 10, 2009
  • Length: 22:25
  • Purchases: 8
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A portrait of Nelson Mandela in the years before he was sent to prison

Bought by KZMU Moab Community Radio, WCAI / WNAN, WRNC-LP, WXDU, KFAI and more

  • Added: Jul 16, 2008
  • Length: 12:02
  • Purchases: 9
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Introduction by Nelson Mandela to the series, Mandela: An Audio History

Bought by KZYX, WXAV 88.3FM, and PRX to iTunes

  • Added: Jul 11, 2008
  • Length: 01:01
  • Purchases: 3
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A year in the life of a South African teenager.

Bought by WUTC, Remix Radio, PRX to iTunes, WRNC-LP, KPFA and more

  • Added: May 30, 2006
  • Length: 27:09
  • Purchases: 17
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15-year-old Nick chronicles a turbulent year in his life. “If you could give me any advice or give me some potion that would make people my age st...

Bought by KZMU Moab Community Radio, KFAI, KUT, PRX Remix, Remix Radio and more

  • Added: Jun 26, 2004
  • Length: 17:48
  • Purchases: 10