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Radio Diaries

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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 radiotopia.fm
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In 1921, a man named Harry Pace started the first major Black-owned record company in the United States. He called it Black Swan Records. In an era when few Black musicians were recorded, the company was revolutionary. It launched the careers of Ethel Waters, Fletcher Henderson, William Grant Still, and Alberta Hunter, artists who transformed Ameri…
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This week, we’re featuring an episode of a podcast we’re big fans of: The Last Archive! The Last Archive tells little known histories and how they affect our modern lives. Today’s story, “Parakeet Panic,” explores when invasive parakeets began to spread in New York City in the 1970s — and the government decided that the solution was to kill them al…
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At the age of 16, he played with the Duke Ellington Orchestra. He went on to make landmark recordings with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonious Monk. He’s considered one of the most important drummers in history — and he would’ve turned 100 years old this week. Max Roach: The Drum Also Waltzes is a new film about the musician by award-win…
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We bring you a lot of stories each year, but we don’t often get to share the work behind them. We recently held an event at WNYC’s The Greene Space in New York City, where our subjects and producers reflected on the challenges, and joys, of telling these untold stories. For the last podcast of the year, we’re bringing you that live show: a behind t…
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Today marks 60 years since the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. There are many photos from that day in 1963, but one image in particular caught people’s attention, spreading in newspapers across the country: a photo of a Secret Service agent jumping onto the back of the presidential limousine during the shooting. Today on the podcast, th…
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Back in 1995, LaMont Dottin was 21 years old and a freshman at Queens College when, one evening, he didn’t come home. His mother went to the local police precinct to try to report him missing, and his name was added to a list of thousands of cases that the NYPD’s Missing Persons Squad was supposed to be investigating. Then his case fell through the…
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The Belvedere Hotel is in the heart of New York City’s theater district. Many of its guests come to see the sights, take in a show. But there are a few dozen people who call the Belvedere home. Decades ago, they came to New York and rented rooms there. As the hotel changed hands over the years, they never left. One of them was Hisako Hasegawa. This…
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Angel Irizarry spent years working as a detective, and in 2021 he set out on a personal investigation to track down an uncle who’d been estranged from his family for decades. But early in his search he made a disappointing discovery: his uncle Cesar had died. So Angel embarked on a new quest, to learn what had become of Cesar during his long absenc…
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Dawn Powell wrote novels about people like herself: outsiders who’d come to New York City in the early twentieth century to make a name for themselves. For a few years, those novels put her at the center of the city’s literary scene. Ernest Hemingway even called her his favorite living writer. When she died of colon cancer in 1965, Powell donated h…
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For more than a century, it was almost impossible to find out much about people buried on Hart Island. But in 2008, that all changed — thanks in large part to a woman named Melinda Hunt. Melinda is a visual artist who has spent more than 30 years documenting America’s largest public cemetery, and advocating for families with loved ones buried there…
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When Annette Vega was seven years old, she found out the man she called “dad” wasn’t her biological father. But all she knew was that her mom had had a teenage romance with a guy named Angel Garcia. Annette has searched for Angel for more than 30 years, a search that is finally coming to the end. This is episode three in our series The Unmarked Gra…
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When Noah Creshevsky learned he was dying of bladder cancer two years ago, he decided to decline medical treatment. Soon, he and his husband David were faced with another decision: what would become of his body after he died? This is episode two in our new series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. E…
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A few years ago, a young man who called himself Stephen became a fixture in Manhattan’s Riverside Park. Locals started noticing him sitting on the same park bench day after day. He said little and asked for nothing. When Stephen’s body was found in 2017, the police were unable to identify him, and he was buried on Hart Island. Then, one day, a woma…
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