Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries

First-person diaries, sound portraits, and hidden chapters of history from Peabody Award-winning producer Joe Richman and the Radio Diaries team. From teenagers to octogenarians, prisoners to prison guards, bra saleswomen to lighthouse keepers. The extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Radio Diaries is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at

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First-person diaries, sound portraits, and hidden chapters of history from Peabody Award-winning producer Joe Richman and the Radio Diaries team. From teenagers to octogenarians, prisoners to prison guards, bra saleswomen to lighthouse keepers. The extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Radio Diaries is a proud member of Radiotopia, from PRX. Learn more at
🇬🇧 English
last modified
2019-08-23 13:55
last episode published
2019-08-22 22:12
publication frequency
18.92 days
The Center for Investigative Reporting and PRX owner  
Radio Diaries author  
Number of Episodes
Detail page
Society & Culture



Date Thumb Title & Description Contributors
22.08.2019 Radio Diaries

Stories from a Vanishing New York

Today on the podcast, we pay a visit to Walter the Seltzer Man, and also remember Selma Koch, the iconic bra fitter in the Upper West Side's Town Shop.
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
25.07.2019 Radio Diaries

Shirley Chisholm: Unbought and Unbossed

Today…there’s “The Squad.” But 50 years ago, there was only one woman of color in the U.S. Congress, and she was the first. Shirley Chisholm, of New York City, was elected to Congress in a historic victory in 1968. And like the squad...Chisholm made he...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
20.06.2019 Radio Diaries

The Square Deal

100 years ago, George F. Johnson ran the biggest shoe factory in the world. The Endicott-Johnson Corporation in upstate New York produced 52 million pairs of shoes a year. But Johnson wasn’t only known for his shoes. Johnson had an unusual theory at t...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
6.06.2019 Radio Diaries

Amanda's Diary: Revisited

This month marks the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall uprising, a turning point in the gay rights movement. The anniversary is a reminder of how much has changed since 1969, when "homosexual acts" were illegal in all states but one - Illinois. Today, ...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
20.05.2019 Radio Diaries

Last Witness: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

On May 31, 1921, six-year-old Olivia Hooker was home with her family when a group of white men launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1000 homes and businesses. It’s estimated...
Radio Diaries author
2.05.2019 Radio Diaries

Juan's Diaries: Undocumented, Then and Now

Back in the 1990s, Juan crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally, and settled with his family next to the Rio Grande river in Texas. We gave him a cassette recorder to document his life there for NPR. Almost two decades later, we gave Juan another reco...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
18.04.2019 Radio Diaries

The Bonus Army

In 1932, 20,000 WWI veterans set up a tent city in Washington. They called themselves the Bonus Army. See photos of the Bonus Army here:
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
4.04.2019 Radio Diaries

The Working Tapes

In the early 1970’s, author Studs Terkel went around the country with a reel-to-reel tape recorder interviewing people about their jobs. He turned these interviews into a book called, “Working.” After the book was released in 1974, the tapes were packe...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
21.03.2019 Radio Diaries

The Story of Jane

Before the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Roe vs. Wade, abortions were illegal in most of the United States. But that didn't mean women didn't have them. Hundreds of women were dying every year in botched abortions. In 1965, an underground network f...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
7.03.2019 Radio Diaries

The Ski Troops of WWII

The men of the 10th Mountain Division led a series of daring assaults against the Nazis in the mountains of Italy during WWII. After returning home, many of these soldiers helped to create the modern ski industry.
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
20.02.2019 Radio Diaries

When Nazis Took Manhattan

On February 20th, 1939, 20,000 people streamed into Madison Square Garden in New York City. Outside, the marquee was lit up with the evening's main event: a "Pro-American rally." Inside, on the stage, there was a 30-foot tall banner of George Washingto...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
11.02.2019 Radio Diaries

A Voicemail Valentine

Nowadays we’re very accustomed to recording and hearing the sound of our own voices. But in the 1930s many people were doing it for the first time. And a surprising trend began. People started sending their voices to each other, through the postal serv...
Radio Diaries author
16.01.2019 Radio Diaries

The Border Wall

Stories about walls and borders, and what happens when – instead of people crossing the border – the border crosses the people. Act 1: Wrong Side of the Fence Pamela Taylor technically lives in the U.S. But somehow, her house is on the Mexican side o...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
19.12.2018 Radio Diaries

Thembi Ngubane carried a tape recorder from 2004 to 2005 to document her life. She was willing to speak out at a time when few South Africans were willing to say, “I have AIDS.”

We first met Thembi when she was 19 and living in one of the largest townships in South Africa. We were struck by her candor, sense of humor and her courage. She was willing to speak out about having AIDS at a time when very few South Africans were wil...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
10.12.2018 Radio Diaries

Bonus Episode: Hear the World Differently

There’s an old saying that “sound is like touch from a distance.” We think it’s a perfect metaphor for what we at Radio Diaries — and all the shows at Radiotopia — try to do. We want to help you hear the world differently. We’re in the middle of our ...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
15.11.2018 Radio Diaries

A Guitar, A Cello, and the Day that Changed Music

November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men – an ocean apart – sat before a microphone and began to play. One was a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain; the other played guitar and was a regular in the juke joints of...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
1.11.2018 Radio Diaries

The Song That Crossed Party Lines

Our country is so politically polarized these days, it’s hard to remember a time when Republicans and Democrats could agree on anything at all. In today’s episode, we’re going back almost 80 years, to another extremely polarized moment in American his...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
18.10.2018 Radio Diaries

Campaigning While Female

A record-breaking number of women are running for Congress in the midterm elections this November. There are 257, dwarfing all previous years. And in 2020, we’ll likely see a record number of women running for President as well. It's a historic moment ...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
4.10.2018 Radio Diaries

Serving Time 9 to 5: Diaries from Prison Guards

Sergeant Furman Camel spent 27 years in a North Carolina Prison. That's as many years as Nelson Mandela spent behind bars. But Camel did his time, as likes to say, in 8 hour shifts. "I wear this uniform with pride. Everyday that I come in here I'm c...
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
20.09.2018 Radio Diaries

Matthew and the Judge

We gave Judge Jeremiah, a Rhode Island juvenile court judge, and Matthew, a 16-year-old repeat offender, tape recorders. Through their audio diaries, Matthew and the judge tell the same story from two different sides of the bench.
Radio Diaries & Radiotopia author
29.08.2018 Radio Diaries

#80: Prisoners of War

During the war in Vietnam, there was a notorious American military prison on the outskirts of Saigon, called Long Binh Jail. But LBJ wasn't for captured enemy fighters, it was for American soldiers. These were men who had broken military law. And ther...
Radio Diaries author
6.08.2018 Radio Diaries

#79: Last Witness: Mission to Hiroshima

On August 6, 1945 the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan. It was the first time a nuclear weapon had been used in warfare. There were three strike planes that flew over Hiroshima that day: the Enola Gay which carried t...
Radio Diaries author
17.07.2018 Radio Diaries

#8: Nelson Mandela at 100

Nelson Mandela would have been 100 years old this week. And we’re marking the anniversary by bringing you our documentary, Mandela: An Audio History. This award-winning series chronicles the struggle against apartheid through intimate first-person acco...
Radio Diaries author
21.06.2018 Radio Diaries

#23: Busman’s Holiday

The story of William Cimillo, a New York City bus driver who snapped one day in 1947 and went on a 1,300 mile detour with his bus... to Florida.
Radio Diaries author
14.06.2018 Radio Diaries

#78: Last Witness: The General Slocum

On June 15, 1904, a steamship called the General Slocum left the pier on East Third Street in New York City just after 9 AM. The boat was filled with more than 1,300 residents of the Lower East Side. Many of the passengers were recent German immigrants...
Radio Diaries author
31.05.2018 Radio Diaries

#77: Surviving the Tulsa Race Riot

On May 31, 1921, six-year-old Olivia Hooker was home with her family when a group of white men launched an attack on the Greenwood section of Tulsa, Oklahoma. In less than 24 hours, the mobs destroyed more than 1000 homes and businesses. It’s estimated...
Radio Diaries author
3.05.2018 Radio Diaries

#31: Fly Girls

In the early 1940s, the U.S. Air Force faced a dilemma. Thousands of new airplanes were coming off assembly lines and needed to be delivered to military bases nationwide, yet most of America’s pilots were overseas fighting the war. To solve the problem...
Radio Diaries author
19.04.2018 Radio Diaries

#61: Strange Fruit, Revisited

James Cameron is the only known person to have survived a lynching in America.
Radio Diaries author
6.04.2018 Radio Diaries

#38: Crime Pays

There's a program in Richmond, CA that has a controversial method of reducing gun violence in their city: paying criminals to not commit crimes. Sounds crazy, but the even crazier part works.
Radio Diaries author
22.03.2018 Radio Diaries

#76: The Green Book

A guide to "traveling while Black" during Jim Crow. A story from our friends and fellow Radiotopians at 99% Invisible.
Radio Diaries author
8.03.2018 Radio Diaries

#22: Deported: Weasel’s Diary

At 26-years-old, Jose William Huezo Soriano—a.k.a. Weasel—was deported back to his parents’ home country, El Salvador, a country he hadn’t seen since he was 5. This is his audio diary.
Radio Diaries author
28.02.2018 Radio Diaries

#30: Nine Months Before Rosa Parks

You've heard of Rosa Parks, but do you know about Claudette Colvin?  On March 2, 1955, when Claudette was 15 years old, she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a segregated bus in Montgomery, AL. This was nine months before Rosa Parks ...
Radio Diaries author
14.02.2018 Radio Diaries

#75: A Voicemail Valentine

Audio love letters from the 1930s and 1940s.
Radio Diaries author
19.01.2018 Radio Diaries

#74: The Story of Jane

Before Roe vs. Wade, an underground abortion service in Chicago helped women get abortions.
Radio Diaries author
23.12.2017 Radio Diaries

#73: The Dropped Wrench

Every day, we go about our lives doing thousands of routine, mundane tasks. And sometimes, we make mistakes. Human error. It happens all the time. It just doesn’t always happen in a nuclear missile silo. A collaboration with This American Life. *** ...
Radio Diaries author

#49: Majd’s Diary: Two Years in the Life of a Saudi Girl

Majd Abdulghani is a teenager living in Saudi Arabia, one of the most restrictive countries for women in the world. She wants to be a scientist. Her family wants to arrange her marriage. From the age of 19 to 21, Majd has been chronicling her life with...
Radio Diaries author

#72: Under the Radar

16 years after recording his teenage diary, Juan now lives in Colorado. He has a house, a good job, and three American kids. But...he’s still undocumented.
Radio Diaries author

#71: Juan’s Story, Live at the Moth

Juan crossed the U.S.-Mexico border illegally as a teen, and settled with his family in Texas. In 1996, he recorded an audio diary for our Teenage Diaries project. Now he tells his story live at The Moth.
Radio Diaries author

#34: The Two Lives of Asa Carter

Asa Carter and Forrest Carter couldn’t have been more different. But they shared a secret. "The Education of Little Tree," by Forrest Carter, is an iconic best-selling book, with a message about living in harmony with nature, and compassion for people ...
Radio Diaries author

#42: The Last Place

When you spend so much of your life getting to the next stage, thinking about the next move, what is it like to find yourself at...the Last Place? In this episode, we bring you audio diaries from a retirement home.
Radio Diaries author

#70: The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel (Hour Special)

For Labor Day, we’re bringing you a special, one hour episode of our series The Working Tapes of Studs Terkel. In 1974, oral historian Studs Terkel published a book with an unwieldy title: “Working: People talk about what they do all day and how they f...
Radio Diaries author

#11: Willie McGee and The Traveling Electric Chair

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 protes...
Radio Diaries author

#25: Miss Subways

Most beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But this contest celebrated something different: the everyday working girl.
Radio Diaries author

#69: Mexico ’68 and the Tlatelolco Massacre

A Movement, a Massacre, and Mexico’s Search for the Truth
Radio Diaries author

#68: The Rubber Room

Meet the NYC teachers who are "doing time."
Radio Diaries author

#67: The Oddest Town in America

Gibsonton, Florida: Where the Sideshow went to Retire
Radio Diaries author

#66: Radio Diaries Live at the Moth

For Mother's day, we're bringing you our diarist Melissa's story, as she told it live at The Moth.
Radio Diaries author

#17: The Gospel Ranger

This is the story of a song, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down,” written by a 12-year-old boy on his deathbed. A boy who – instead of dying – went on to become a Pentecostal preacher. A boy who would later help inspire the birth of Rock & Rol...
Radio Diaries author

#65: Remembering Robben Island

Nelson Mandela famously spent 27 years in prison for fighting against apartheid in South Africa. He was sentenced to life in 1964 for treason, along with 7 others. One of them was Ahmed Kathrada who died this week. He was 87.  Mandela, Kathrada and the...
Radio Diaries author

#64: The Vietnam Tapes of Michael A. Baronowski

In 1966, a young Marine took a reel-to-reel tape recorder with him into the Vietnam War. For two months, Michael A. Baronowski made tapes of his friends, of life in foxholes, of combat. And he sent those audio letters home to his family in Norristown, ...
Radio Diaries author