Pro-choice. Pro-life. Most people have already chosen sides in the ongoing debate, so why revisit the issue? Shades of Gray shares a range of stories told by people young and old who have been directly affected by abortion, instead of the polemics of irreconcilable extremes. It’s a carefully crafted audio mosaic and a stark portrayal of the intensely personal nature of our relationship with abortion. This is the fair and frank discussion America rarely has but desperately needs.
Winner of the 2004 Golden Reel for National Documentary. A longer version is at PRX. Produced and original music score by Jonathan Mitchell of The Truth. Co-produced and narrated by Ahri Golden of Thin Air Media.
The Maddox Bros. & Rose were America’s Most Colorful Hillbilly Band. In the 1930s, 40s & 50s, the four brothers and sister/singer Rose paraded thru America in their colorful Cadillacs and cowboy outfits. “Their costumes make Liberace look like a plucked chicken,” said Tennisee Ernie Ford.
Born to sharecroppers in Boaz, Alabama, they rode the rails and hitch hiked to California in 1933, where they formed the band. Their sound was both old-timey and western swing; their rhythms helped plant the roots of rockabilly. Ginna Allison’s sound-portrait features interviews with Rose Maddox, Tennesse Ernie Ford, Cliffie Stone, and her co-prodcuer on this piece, TJ Meekins of KVMR-Nevada City CA. (Images: Maddox Bros. & Rose: Myspace, Rockin’ County Style)
A preacher’s son, met in a North Carolina thrift shop, comes over the house to play guitar, and talk Jesus, G chords, and Gilligan’s Island. Carmen’s grandmother would not approve. Produced by Jay Allison for This American Life (PRX).
It takes four seconds to hit the water from the Golden Gate Bridge. A year ago the producer’s friend Phil took that fatal jump. They met several years before that when Phil’s brother committed suicide (transcript).
“The Man with the White Cane” (1980 / 9:36) Josh Darsa
Herman Porter, a blind man, slipped unseen beneath a moving subway train: 90 tons of steel and electricity. (Hear Alex Chadwick’s eulogize for NPR’s pioneering producer: “Josh Darsa Obituary“.)
Scott Carrier talks to the family, the ex-husband, the mortuary, the doctors, even the grave digger, in piecing together the memory of a life. Prodcued for New American Radio. (Scott’s most recent book is Prisoner of Zion.)
“Kaddish” (1994 / 3:26)
Messages on my the producer’s mother’s tape machine, found after his father’s death; original music by Skyward. This Kaddish is a mourner’s prayer.
Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson publicly debates FOX News host Sean Hannity. The spectacle took place inside a chasm called Us versus Them. Produced in 2007 for This American Life; music: Rickie Lee Jones, “Nobody Knows My Name” from Sermon On Exposition Boulevard.
Great novels induce empathy for others’ experiences. So how is it a man now on trial for crimes against humanity is an avid fiction reader of fiction? Might he simply be reading the wrong books? We take a trip to The Hague to hand-deliver the ‘right’ books to Slobodan Milosevic. Produced with Michael Kavanagh of The Next Big Thing and HV’s Larry Massett. Ben Walker hosts WFMU’s Too Much Information, where “the sober hangover after the digital party has run out of memes, apps and schemes” (TMIplaylists / archives). He also produces The Big Ideas podcast for The Guardian.
“Keep going (feat. Tony Joe White)” (2005 / 5:03) Boozoo Bajou
“Where you boys going? The swamp… you’re not from around here, are you?” Off Dust My Broom.
Scott’s first radio piece: he and his microphone hitch from his home in Salt Lake City to the doorstep of NPR, recording the people he meets along the way (mixed by NPR’s Dawn Warneke). Scott’s most recent book is Prisoner of Zion.)
Wobbly, People Like Us and Matmos circled their wagons in the lecture hall of the San Francisco Art Institute. Having mutually agreed upon a country-and-western theme, Vicki Bennett (PLU), Jon Leidecker (Wobbly), and Drew Daniel and M. C. Schmidt (Matmos) pored over their archives of honky-tonk classics, chopping and dicing Nashville’s finest almost beyond recognition, and collectively re-stitched the mangled shreds in crazed digital quilting bee.
Miles has the wrong body. He was born a woman, Megan. After 15 years of serious depression and confusion about his place in the world, at age 28, he decided to make a change. He chose the name Miles and began his slow, difficult transition into manhood. All along the way, he carried an audio recorder with him. This is his story. Produced for Transom (available at PRX); edited by Jay Allison.
For most of his high school career, Louis robbed people: for money, and for thrills. He never got caught. Then, in his senior year, he decided to stop. Louis talks to friends and family, and to himself, about why he was a criminal, and why he needs to change. Produced for Transom (also at PRX) and the 826NYC writing center.
“It’s Gonna Rain” was composed in San Francisco in January 1965. The voice belongs to a young black Pentecostal preacher who called himself Brother Walter. I recorded him along with the pigeons and traffic one Sunday afternoon in Union Square in downtown San Francisco. Later at home I started playing with tape loops of his voice and, by accident, discovered the process of letting two identical loops go gradually out of phase with each other.
In the first part of the piece the two loops are lined up in unison, gradually move completely out of phase with each other, and then slowly move back to unison. In the second part two much longer loops gradually begin to go out of phase with each other. This two-voice relationship is then doubled to four with two voices going out of phase with the other two. Finally the process moves to eight voices and the effect is a kind of controlled chaos, which may be appropriate to the subject matter – the end of the world.
“It’s Gonna Rain” is the first piece ever to use the process of gradually shifting phase relations between two or more identical repeating patterns. The second was “Come Out.” Composed in 1966, it was originally part of a benefit presented at Town Hall in New York City for the retrial, with lawyers of their own choosing, of the six boys arrested for murder during the Harlem riots of 1964. The voice is that of Daniel Hamm, now acquitted and then 19, describing a beating he took in Harlem’s 28th precinct station. The police were about to take the boys out to be “cleaned up” and were only taking those that were visibly bleeding. Since Hamm had no actual open bleeding he proceeded to squeeze open a bruise on his leg so that he would be taken to the hospital.
“I had to like open the bruise up and let some of the bruise blood come out to show them.” More…
January 25, 2011. One year ago, a revolution began in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. For the next eighteen days, millions of Egyptians across the country would demonstrate in the streets, demanding the end of their 30-year dictatorship. They were inspired by Tunisians, whose protests, that same month, had forced out the authoritarian regime of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Now it was time for Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to go.
A few weeks after the protests, the advocacy group Human Rights Watch interviewed some of the organizers of the January uprising: union leaders, civil rights workers, young social media activists, family members of of murdered protestors, and mothers who brought their kids to Tahrir to clean after the protests.. These Human Rights Watch interviews provide a rare, eyewitness account of a revolution, told by the Egyptian people, the activists, human rights defenders, and bloggers who persevered during those eighteen days.