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.
Land of 10K Homeless is a Minneapolis music-audio documentary project by Voices of the Streets, “An Artistic Portrayal of Homelessness in Minnesota.” Thier “website of artistic activism provides a space for the disadvantaged to share their stories.” Producer Danny Burke created this mix of the main theme, blended with interviews with individuals staying at a family shelter in Minneapolis.
After leaving the Marines, George Hill became addicted to drugs and alcohol. He soon found himself on the streets of Los Angeles, homeless for 12 years. But the kindness of another homeless man changed everything. Hill is now off the streets, working for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and pursuing a computer information systems degree at Cal State University. Recorded in Santa Monica, CA; part of StoryCorps’Griot Initiative.
A portrait of the self-named, Crazy John, who lives on the streets of Austin, Texas. He tells writer Carmen Delzell about his life. Carmen was homeless for a couple of years in the early 1990s. This piece was made after she got on her feet and was living in Austin. Produced by Jay Allison (PRX).
Germans in the Woods: Joseph Robertson was an infantryman in the U.S. Army during World War II, where he fought in the Battle of the Bulge. The stark black and white images in this short haunt the viewer, just as Robertson is haunted by his memories from that battle. (Directed by: The Rauch Brothers. Art Direction: The Rauch Brothers. Background Painting: Iandry Randriamandroso & Tim Rauch. Producers: Mike Rauch & Lizzie Jacobs. Animation: Tim Rauch. Audio Produced by: Michael Garofalo. Music: Fredrik. Label: The Kora Records. Publisher: House of Hassle.)
For Veterans Day, Vietnam, Korean, and World War Two vets, recorded by StoryCorps, along with a Marine Sergeant’s recent “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” discharge. And we plug into the iPods of active-duty troops in Iraq (photo gallery), asking them what they’re listening to, and what their lives are like:
Bob Harlee served as an Army Chaplain for 18 years. In 1965, Harllee was sent to Vietnam, and he had to leave his wife and three children behind. One of those children, Carol, now 47, recently asked her father about his life in those days. As part of the 101st Airborne out of Fort Campbell, Ky., Harllee had to reconcile his role as a spiritual guide within a unit whose job it was to destroy the enemy. Still, Harllee says, his task was clear: “to encourage everybody to keep their faith strong, even though they’re in the midst of the most terrible thing that mankind can bring upon itself.” Bob Harllee died in Charlottesville, Va., several months after his interview session. He was 73.
Soldier Soundtrack, Iraq- Song: “Send in the Clowns” by Barbara Streisand from The Broadway Album. “They’re not really geared towards a democratic or republic sort of society… the biggest issue will be trying to keep Iran or Syria from moving into the power vacuum when we leave…”
In Mom, Dave Isay, StoryCorps founder and editor of the bestselling book, Listening Is an Act of Love, presents a celebration of American mothers from all walks of life and experiences. Selected from StoryCorps’ extensive archive of interviews, Mom presents the wisdom that has been passed from mothers to their children in StoryCorps’ recording booths across the country.
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…
Holiday cheer and holiday weird, a mix of lotsa holiday stories, found-sound, and sprinkling of sampled songs:
A home-recording of a “Christmas Gathering 1947” (4:08 excerpt), on an unlabeled 7″ Wilcox Gay Recordio Disc, was found by Bob Purse. The complete recording is posted at the 365 Days Project, “Christmas Gathering 1947” (6:32 mp3):
StoryCorps declares November 28 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening, and offer a Do-It-Yourself Guide to help you:
This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.