Audio diaries document a decade of life with CF, a chronic, often deadly, genetic disease:
“Radio Diaries: My So-Called Lungs”” (2001 / 21:13) Joe Richman
A classic Radio Diaries: When this program premiered, Laura Rothenberg was 21 years old, or, as she likes to say, she already had her mid-life crisis a couple of years ago, and even then it was a few years late. Laura has cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs and other organs. People with CF lived an average of 30 years then (now it’s 37). Radio Diaries gave Laura a tape recorder and, for two years, she kept an audio diary of her battle with the disease and her attempts to lead a normal life with lungs than often betray her.
“My So-Called Lungs” was reported by Laura Rothenberg and produced by Joe Richman, for Radio-Diaries-dot-org, with support from the Open Society Institute and Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Deborah George was the Editor. Laura Rothenberg died in March 2003. Her memoir, Breathing For a Living was published a few months later. And Joe Richman had this Laura Rothenberg Remembrance on NPR.
In 2010, there were 1,770 lung transplants performed in the United States — the most ever in a single year. For a person with Cystic Fibrosis, the transplant may extend life by years — or it could lead to continued suffering and rejection of the new organ. This documentary follows two young people struggling with end-stage Cystic Fibrosis, and struggling with a decision about transplant. While most of us are just hitting our stride in our late 20s, Beth Peters and Brian Sercus are medicating, massaging and coaxing their lungs into lasting as long as possible. Producer Catie Talarski documented Beth and Brian for a year to understand what its like to live with this chronic disease.
Thruout the hour, we hear excerpts from the tracks “Zhangmu: Crossing A Landslide Area” (2300 meters above sea level), “Palung: A Yak Caravan is Coming (5400m), “Cho Oyo Basecamp: Morning” (5700m), “Jobo Rabzang: A 6666 metre peak in the Cho Oyu Himal”, “Camp 3: Neighbours On Oxygen” (7500m), “Summit: Only slight breeze on the summit at 8201m.” Also this piece “sampled and processed from a cassette of Tibetan music.”
For twenty years, Reverend Robert Shields, of Dayton, Washington, kept a written record of absolutely everything that happened to him, day and night. For four hours each day, Shields holes himself up in the small office in his home, turns on his stereo, and types. His diary, at 35 million words, is believed the world’s longest. A Sound Portraits production, on the CD Holding On: Dreamers, Visionaries, Eccentrics And Other American Heroes (and companion book)
“Nick in SLC: Home School to High School” (1999 / 16:39) Radio Diaries
For RD’s Teenage Diaries project, they gave “tape recorders to young people around the country to report on their own lives. They conduct interviews, keep an audio journal and record the sounds of daily life — usually collecting more than 40 hours of raw tape over the course of a year. Nick Epperson of Salt Lake City began his audio diary when he was 13. The talented singer/cellist music, but has a hard time making friends.
Pasquale Spensieri spends his days driving around Brooklyn looking for dull blades. When he rings the bell on his truck, the owners of upholstery shops, restaurants and pizza parlors come out with knives and scissors to sharpen. Pasquale’s father first started sharpening knives during the Depression, with a pedal-operated grinding machine strapped to his back. At that time, there were hundreds of door-to-door grinders in New York. Today, at the age of 71, Pasquale is one of the last. Produced by Joe Richman and Emily Botein (WNYC) for their series New York Works.
Since the 1880s, Mohawk Indian ironworkers have been known for their ability to work high steel. From the Empire State Building to the the World Trade Center, generations of Mohawks have helped shape New York City’s skyline. Each week, they commute to Manhattan from their reservation in Canada, framing the city’s skyscrapers and bridges. In September 2001, after the fall of the Trade Center Towers, the sons and nephews of these men returned to the site to dismantle what their elders had helped to build.
South Africa has been hit hardest with H-I-V/AIDS. Five million people are infected (Avert: SA). One of them, Thembi Ngubane, at nineteen years old, carried a recorder in 2005 to document her life (NPR | PRX). Produced by Joe Richman, edited by Debra George and Ben Shapiro; more of Thembi’s story, with an audio-visual gallery, is at AIDSdiary.org.
“Day without Art” (5:02) Barrett Golding
December 1st is World AIDS Day. In the arts community it also had this other name, DWA.
Poet Kwame Dawes travels his native Jamaica talking about HIV/AIDS. This is part of the hour-program “Live Hope Love: HIV/AIDS in Jamaica” (PRX) Support came from the MAC AIDS Fund, of MAC Cosmetics, and from and PRX, the Public Radio Exchange. Produced by Stephanie Guyer-Stevens and Jack Chance of Outer Voices, for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. Their emmy-winning muchomedia website for the project Live Lope Love.
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.
W.H.O. World AIDS Day
The 1st of December A Day Without Art
Sister Agnes Ramashiga makes her rounds at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto; 2000 patients check in daily, half are HIV positive. It’s “Just Another Day At the Biggest Hospital In the World,” a Radio Diaries by Joe Richman & Sue Johnson (Picture-Projects).
HIV-Positive teenagers, Tanya, Mark, and Tenisha, record audio diaries about living “The Positive Life”; produced by by Stephen Smith & Stephanie Curtis for American RadioWorks (photos and journals at ARW).)
And Trouble Came: An African AIDS Diary (CD at Arkiv Music) by Laura Kaminsky is a compositon for viola, cello, piano, and for a narrator, reciting poems, biblical verse, and stories of Tamakloe, a warrior, tailor, and AIDS victim.
AIDS once meant death. Now improved treatments keep HIV-positive people alive for decides. So what’s that like, being brought back from the dead; as when Jesus revived his dead friend “Lazarus;” by Krandall Kraus from his book Book: It’s Never About What It’s About.
“Letters to Butchie” are a dying mother’s writings to a son she’ll never see, produced by Dave Isay Sound Portraits (music: Nick Drake).
A Prison Diary (2001 CD | NPR series) from a former Polk Youth Institution, North Carolina. Former inmate. John Mills is out now and co-hosts our hour with Prison Dairies producer Joe Richman. (Check the accompanying Picture Projects360 Degrees, a multimedia “Perspectives on the U.S. Criminal Justice System.”
Voices and sounds of youth in at Utah’s Washington County Crisis Center, a techno tone poem. Handcuffs, metal detectors and slamming cell doors are striking musical instruments, and incarcerated teenagers in this streetwise chorus. (PBK: site | space.)
The Louisiana State Penitentiary, Angola Prison, is a sprawling old plantation on the Mississippi River. Angola holds more than five-thousand prisoners, mostly African Americans. Unless they’re pardoned by the Governor, lifers know they will never again see the outside world — that they will die inside Angola prison. Producer: David Isay with Wilbert Rideau and Ron Wikberg; mix engineer: Anna Maria deFrietas.
Grief and guts fill the work day of Aftermath,® Inc: Specialists in Crime Scene and Tragedy Cleanup, Trauma Cleanup, Accidental Death Cleanup. Interview with Tim Reifsteck by Laura Kwerel, produced by Nick van der Kolk; an excerpt from “Aftermath,” a Love and Radio podcast. (L & R’s slogan: “What Ira Glass might make if he showed up to work drunk.”) More…