133 episodes

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.

Radio Diaries Radiotopia

    • Documentary

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.

    History Had Me Glued to the Seat

    History Had Me Glued to the Seat

    You know the story of Rosa Parks. But have you heard of Claudette Colvin?

    Claudette grew up in the segregated city of Montgomery, Alabama. On March 2, 1955, when she was 15 years old, she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger.

    Nine months later, Rosa Parks did the exact same thing. Parks, of course, became a powerful symbol of the civil rights movement. But Claudette Colvin has largely been left out of the history books.

    In 1956, about a year after Colvin refused to give up her seat, her attorney Fred Gray filed the landmark federal lawsuit Browder v. Gayle. This case ended segregation on public transportation in Alabama. Claudette Colvin was a star witness.

    This is her story.

    • 11 min
    Voicemail Valentine

    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 service. It was literally: voice-mail.

    We combed through a large collection of early voicemail at the Phono Post Archive, and we discovered that many of these audio letters have the same subject matter: love.

    You can see photographs of the voice-o-graphs on our website: http://www.radiodiaries.org/a-voicemail-valentine/

    • 14 min
    My So-Called Lungs

    My So-Called Lungs

    Laura Rothenberg spent most of her life knowing she was going to die young.

    She had cystic fibrosis, a genetic disorder that affects the lungs. When she was born, the life expectancy for people with CF was around 18 years. (It's more than double that now.) Laura liked to say she went through her mid-life crisis when she was a teenager.

    Joe met Laura when she was 19 and gave her a tape recorder. And for two years, she kept an audio diary of her battle with cystic fibrosis and her attempts to live a normal life - with lungs that often betrayed her.

    • 31 min
    The Teenage Diaries Revisited Hour Special

    The Teenage Diaries Revisited Hour Special

    Back in the 1990s, Joe Richman gave tape recorders to a bunch of teenagers and asked them to report on their own lives. These stories became the series “Teenage Diaries.” 16 years later, in “Teenage Diaries Revisited,” we check back in with this group to see what’s happened in their lives.

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    • 59 min
    Thembi's Diary, Revisited

    Thembi's Diary, Revisited

    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 did. Thembi carried a tape recorder from 2004 to 2005 to document her life. In this episode, we revisit Thembi’s diary, and we introduce listeners to Thembi’s daughter, Onwabo.

    ****

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    • 32 min
    The Last Witness

    The Last Witness

    For this episode, Radiotopia gave all of us in the network a prompt: if we were to create another show, any show, what would it be? Well, we’d make an obituary show.

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    • 10 min

Customer Reviews

Daniel Casey Hopkins ,

Makes ya warm and cozy

Just great content

riot.thyme ,

The Same 8 Stories

This has great content and I’ve learned a lot about people I wouldn’t have otherwise heard their stories. But three years in I think I’ve heard the same 8 episodes at least a dozen times. If you want to continue to be relevant, you should continue to produce new content. I’m done.

hdkdbhxijrn ,

The content is great, but I’m sick of the re-runs.

While I enjoy the stories, this show continually recycles content, which discourages long-term listening. Occasionally they will preface the title with “revisited”, but sometimes they won’t. For instance, they aired “The Working Tapes” twice within six months and it wasn’t even the first time.

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