In 1996 Radio Diaries producer Joe Richman gave “Melissa Rodriguez from New Haven: Teen Mom” a microphone and tape recorder. Melissa was 18 and pregnant. Joe asked her to make an audio journal of her life, for the series Teenage Diaries.
Amy Jo, single mother of two toddlers, is “Surrounded by Lights,” by producer Erin Mishkin of Public Radio Redux and SALT Institute for Documentary Studies.
Myra Dean tells StoryCorps of the day her son was killed by a reckless driver.
Ben Adair takes his mom in search of her mom and “Family Baggage.” Ben heads American Public Media‘s Sustainability and Global Climate Change Reporting Initiative.
In the womb, our first connection to the outside world is through sound. Heartbeats. Voices.
When we’re born, our first impulse is to make sound.
Some creation myths say, in so many words, in the beginning there was sound.
Our voice starts deep within us and moves out into the world and into another person. Touch at a distance someone once said. And yes, sound enters us — all the time. We can’t help but hear. We don’t have earlids, as producer Jay Allison likes to say.
Our voice is a mixture of the air and our thoughts. They mingle together.
And this is a new thought to me. I’m still working on it. But, humans make sound. Think about it. We don’t make light. We don’t make taste. We don’t make touch, per se. Okay, I suppose you could aruge we make smells but that’s not something we fully control. But sound…we can create sound. We talk. We sing. We’re able to make noise with our bodies and because of our bodies — that’s how we’re constructed. That’s unique among the senses.
Have I gone off the deep end yet? No? Well try this.
Radio taps into something ancient. Something primal. Long before the printed word. Long before pictures and film. Waaay before Facebook, we communicated in sound. It’s all we had. We’ve been passing along information and telling stories sonically for about a bazillion years. At this point, it’s just how we’re wired. Radio plugs right into that.
With radio, the listener is a co-author. Radio engages the mind like a good book and we paint our own pictures. Television, which I know is an easy target, but for comparison, television tells you everything you need to know with its combination of pictures and sound. Radio lets you think.
Radios are inexpensive and ubiquitous — most homes have a good half dozen. You can be illiterate and ‘get’ radio.
There’s something magical about the radio. How the hell does sound get into that little box? If you talk to old school radio engineers, they’ll tell you the “M” in “F. M.” Stands for magic. I’ll let you guess what the “F” stands for. In fact, when radio was first discovered, it was thought that we tapped into a mysterious atmospheric element, the ether. I actually like to believe that’s true. More…
SALTcast is the podcast of the SALT Institute for Doc Studies (w/ PRX help). Each cast contains an audio story, accompanied by an appropos nugget of journalistic insight from SALT radio instructor Rob Rosenthal. Listen weekly and you’ve got yourself the equivalent of an online J-Skool degree.
Aired on NPR Day to Day, a wide-eyed glimpse into the world of Michael White, insomniac; how it feels and sounds to spend night after sleepless night. By producer Matthew Swenson for SALT, “Night of the Insomniac” (4:45 mp3):
Recently on NPR Day to Day— Like his father before him, Michael Scott breeds “primo” pigeons, trained athletes, in his native Brooklyn. One of his coops is in Canarsie, on top of his grandmother’s house. By producer Owen Agnew, for HV and SALT.
Aired on NPR Day to Day, a very busy day with Amy Jo, a single mother of two toddlers. Everyday she strives to fulfill a promise for a better life, made to her daughter two years ago. By producer Erin Mishkin, “Surrounded by Lights” (6:50 mp3):
Two old friends Cedric Chambers and John Gallagher have been caring for each other into old age. After John’s wife passed away and his children moved across the country, John turned to Cedric when he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Together they face the end of his life. Produced by Jen Nathan for the SALT. Broadcast today on NPR Day to Day, “A Square Meal, Regardless” (7:20 mp3):
C’mon, bait your line. Let’s go smelt fishin’ on the ice. Ten shacks on a frozen river are filled with ice fishermen for ten weeks each year. Owner Steve Leighton provides the bait; his patrons bring the beer; and the fish take care of the rest. Produced by Grant Fuller of the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies, premiered on Weekend America, “What Are You Gonna Do with 400 Fish?” (5:13 mp3):