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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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November 23, 1936 was a good day for recorded music. Two men, an ocean apart, sat before a microphone and began to play. One, Pablo Casals, was a cello prodigy who had performed for the Queen of Spain. The other, Robert Johnson, played guitar and was a regular in the juke joints of the Mississippi Delta. These recordings would change music history.…
 
Voting rights was just as hot an issue in 1872 as it is today. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony and 14 other women went to cast a ballot in the election - and Anthony ended up arrested and tried. But another woman named Victoria Woodhull took things even further. That same year, she ran for president of the United States - the first woman in American hist…
 
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. He had a unusual idea of how workers should be treated. Some people called it “Welfare Capitalism.” Johnson called it “The Square Dea…
 
In October 1968, Mexico City was preparing to host the Olympics - the first Latin American country to do so. It was an opportunity to showcase the new, modern Mexico. However, at the same time, student protests were erupting throughout the city. On October 2, just days before the Olympics were supposed to begin, the Mexican army fired on a peaceful…
 
This week we’re featuring an episode from our fellow Radiotopia show, Ear Hustle. Ear Hustle is produced inside San Quentin State Prison, in California. The show tells stories about what life is really like in prison, and after you get out. This episode is the first in Ear Hustle’s new season. It’s a beautiful, funny, and surprising story about the…
 
In the early 1970s, radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel went around the country, tape recorder in hand, interviewing people about their jobs. The interviews were compiled into a 1974 book called “Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do,” which became a bestseller. This week, we’re revisiting two o…
 
In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league game of little importance. But over the course of 33 innings – 8 hours and 25 minutes – the game made history. It was the longest professional baseball game ever played. This is an excerpt of a story in collaboration with ESPN's 30 for 30.…
 
This week we’re bringing you a story from independent producer Erica Heilman, who makes the Rumble Strip podcast. The story is about a teenager named Finn Rooney who loved to fish and play baseball. It’s also about what happened in Finn’s community in Vermont after he took his life in January 2020. (A warning that this story discusses suicide) The …
 
In the 1960s, the U.S. was in a tense space race with the Soviet Union - and was losing. The Soviets had sent the first satellite and the first man into space. So, President Kennedy pledged to do something no country had done: send a man to the moon. This mission excited many white Americans, but many Black Americans thought the space program waste…
 
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 who were headed up the East River for a church outing, a boat cruise and picnic on Long Island. T…
 
Only one human disease has ever been completely eradicated: Smallpox. Smallpox was around for more than 3,000 years and killed at least 300 million people in the 20th century. Then, by 1980, it was gone. Rahima Banu was the last person in the world to have the deadliest form of smallpox. In 1975, Banu was a toddler growing up in a remote village in…
 
Before the U.S. Supreme Court decided Roe v. Wade, abortion was illegal throughout most of the country. But that doesn't mean women didn't get them. In 1965, an underground network formed in Chicago to help pregnant women get abortions. At first, they connected women with doctors willing to break the law to perform the procedure. Eventually, they w…
 
You probably don’t know her name, but you definitely know her songs. Rose Marie McCoy would’ve turned 100 years old today. On this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, we’re remembering the woman behind smash hits by Tina Turner, Elvis Presley, Diana Ross and many others.بقلم Radio Diaries
 
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