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.
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).
Mormons believe Native Americans are descendants of the ancient House of Israel. It’s a Mormon mission to bring them back to the Kingdom of God. So they brought children, mostly Navajo, from their reservation homes, and placed them in Mormon foster families across the West. From 1954 to 1996, more than 20,000 kids went through the Indian Student Placement Program. Producer Kate Davidson spent a year interviewing people about their experiences. Her story, edited by Deb George, ran on the Worlds of Difference series from Homeland Productions.
“Take the road toward the top secret army base. Go past Muskrat Spring until you get near Salt Mountain.” A statue of a Hawaiian chief overlooks the Utah desert, with a plaque reading: “Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono. Ua mau ke ea o ka aina i ka pono,” the motto of the kingdom of Hawaii: “The life of the land is perpetuated in righteousness.” A tale of two states, lost tribes, and the Polynesians of Skull Valley who named their town, Iosepa, after Joseph Smith III.
Song & Memory: Rebel Chef Anthony Bourdain is known for his raucous ways in the world of the professional kitchen, detailed in his book “Kitchen Confidential.” We asked him to put away his pans and think back to when he was a kid — is there a song from childhood that brings it all back? Bourdain can pinpoint his desire sex-drug-rock n’ roll start to a single song: “96 Tears” by ? and the Mysterians. (The Song & Memory series was produced for PRI Weekend America.)
Musicians in their own words:Trudy Pitts and her husband, drummer Bill “Mr C.” Carney do a first-person duet. Trudy is an unsung hero of the Hammond B-3 electric organ. With her husband, Mr C, they’ve played with the Lionel Hampton, Clark Terry and Pat Martino. Their 50s R&B band, the Hi-Tones, featured a young sax player: name of John Coltrane. Their most rewarding musical partnership, though, is the one they share with each other. (MITOW stories were produced for NPR and are archived at PRX)
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).
Lost another friend and great keyboardist, Dave Arnott (Band Universal and & Triumphant, FOG ) died at 49yo.
One early 1980s night, I was leaving KGLT about 3am, and this wild, ethereal piano was echoing up the stone stairwell. Odd, since the building had been closed for hours. Tracked it down to the grand in the 1st floor lounge, being played by one very serious and very accomplished young man. I introduced myself, so did he: Dave Arnott.
He was (as I recall) on a break from helping sound-wire the Student Union Theatre. I sat and listened. He played another half-hour.
I’ve seen some of this land’s best musicians of many genres in excellent venues across USA. But that pre-dawn Dave solo performance, to an audience that had just increased from 0 to 1, was among the most memorable concerts I’ve ever attended.
Music (“Yellow Jacket” by FOG from Rain) and Footage by David Arnott. Edited by Tol. Additional Footage by Tol, Blue, and Mike.More…
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.
Megan Taylor grew up feeling she was living in the wrong body. In her 20s, she decided to do something about it. First, she changed her name to Miles. Miles began taking testosterone, scheduled a double mastectomy — part of sex reassignment surgery — and began changing his body into one that felt right. The hardest part was telling his parents. Through it all, he kept an audio diary.
Voices from all sides of adoption. Stories about living with questions and searching for answers. We hear from birth families (mothers, siblings and a father), adoptees (both kids and adults), and various adoptive families including open adoption and international adoption (China).
In 1945, Willie McGee was accused of raping a white woman. The all-white jury took less than three minutes to find him guilty and McGee was sentenced to death. Over the next six years, the case went through three trials and sparked international protests and appeals from Albert Einstein, William Faulkner, Paul Robeson, and Josephine Baker. McGee was defended by a young Bella Abzug arguing her first major case. But in 1951, McGee was put to death in Mississippi’s traveling electric chair. His execution was broadcast live by a local radio station. Today, a newly discovered recording of that broadcast provides a chilling window into a lost episode of civil rights history. Narrated by granddaughter Bridgette McGee, this documentary follows a her search for the truth about a case that has been called a real-life To Kill A Mockingbird.
It is with a mixture of sadness and relief I announce the passing of my Grandmother: Alma J. Kelsey (Warga, Smith).
Born in Lincoln, Nebraska on July 4th, 1910, she passed away this weekend, 99 years later.
Alma was the oldest of seven siblings but the last to depart. She is survived by myself and her son Robin.
In 1928, at the age of 17, Alma Smith eloped with Wayne Warga, 19, and headed West for Hollywood to start a new life and a family. The family was harder to come-by for her husband was not medically able: but in 1938 she bore my father, Wayne (Bud), after a secret affair with an LAPD officer. Then in 1949 she met another man to have another child: Robin. She wanted a family so bad and bore the weight of her secrets until she started AA and revealed all.
In the 1970’s she met and married Dick Kelsey, painter and animator. They moved to Leisure Village in Camarillo where her Lilly Garden won village awards year after year. She stayed by Dick through his Alzheimer’s and eventual death.
In 1985 AA became Alma’s new church, where she grew to become a guru in the program. In 1994 we stood together and buried her son, my father, Wayne. It’s around that time Alzheimer’s started pulling her away.
In 2005 NPR aired a story about her (transcript). I invite you to hear Alma in her own voice, “Grandmother: Aging, Decline & Love” (8:16 mp3):
How strange is the lot of us mortals! Each of us is here for a brief sojourn; for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he senses it. But without deeper reflection one knows from daily life that one exists for other people — first of all for those upon whose smiles and well-being our own happiness is wholly dependent, and then for the many, unknown to us, to whose destinies we are bound by the ties of sympathy. A hundred times every day I remind myself that my inner and outer life are based on the labors of other men, living and dead, and that I must exert myself in order to give in the same measure as I have received and am still receiving…
—Albert Einstein, “Mein Weltbild” (“My World-view” 1931)
More from his essay: “The World as I See It“
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.
A century ago, Troy, New York, was a thriving industrial capital. Today many of its residents live in poverty. Studio 360’s Lu Olkowski went to Troy with poet Susan B.A. Somers-Willet and photographer Brenda Ann Kenneally to document some of Troy’s stories. They spent a lot of time with a single mother, Billie Jean Hill.
The result is poetry as journalism w/ some staggeringly accurate and beautiful photos:
At the new series Snap Judgement, Glynn Washington (a PRTQ winner) posted the story of Kevin and Brian Fisher-Paulson. They become foster parents to medically fragile triplets, nurse them thought extended, expensive hospital stays to health, then are told the mentally unstable birth mother wants them back.
Sarah Vowell is a gunsmith’s daughter, in “Shooting Dad,” produced for This American Life (from Lies Sissies & Fiascoes). Sarah’s latest book is The Wordy Shipmates. (Music: “Rebel Rouser” Duane Eddy 1958 Have Twangy Guitar Will Travel, “Burnt Down With Feedback” Phono-Comb 1996 Fresh Gasoline, “Your Good Girl’s Gonna Go Bad” Jonathan Richman 1990 Jonathan Goes Country.)
Joe Frank lets us eavesdrop on a father-son phone call between “Larry and Zachary” Block, from Joe’s hour Karma 3.
Host Larry Massett and several other sons try to get to know their “Lost and Found Fathers,” produced for Soundprint, with help from Barrett Golding, Brian Brophy, Bob Burrus, and Henry Dennis.