About 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 radiotopia.fm
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, the story of the man in that photo: Clint Hill. Note: This episode contains a description of violence. Tell a friend or share your thoughts about this story on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook @RadioDiaries. Radiotopia’s Fall Fundraiser is here! Donate today to support independent creators like us. Thank you! https://on.prx.org/3Si7UXr
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 cracks. This is the final episode of The Unmarked Graveyard: Stories from Hart Island. Listen to all 8 stories in our podcast feed, tell a friend and share your thoughts with us on Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), and Facebook. @RadioDiaries Radiotopia’s fall fundraiser is here! Donate today to support independent creators like us. Thank you! https://on.prx.org/3Si7UXr
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 is episode seven of our series The Unmarked Graveyard, next week will be our final episode. You can listen to the entire series in the podcast feed. Radiotopia’s fall fundraiser is here! Donate today to support independent creators like us. Thank you! https://on.prx.org/3Si7UXr
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 absence. This is episode six of our series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. This story was reported in collaboration with The City’s Missing Them project.
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 her body to science. But then her books disappeared from shelves, and, unbeknownst to her family, her body went missing too. This is episode five of The Unmarked Graveyard, a series untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. To hear more stories from Hart Island, subscribe to the Radio Diaries feed.
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. She is the founder of The Hart Island Project, a searchable database of more than 75,000 burial records. This week, producer Alissa Escarce sits down with Melinda to discuss the history of Hart Island and how it’s changed over the last few decades. This is episode four of our series The Unmarked Graveyard. New episodes published each week.
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 Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. New episodes drop every Thursday.
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. Each week, we’re bringing you stories of how people ended up on Hart Island, the lives they lived and the people they left behind.
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 woman who knew him from the park stumbled upon his true identity, and his backstory came to light. This is the first episode in our new series The Unmarked Graveyard, untangling mysteries from America’s largest public cemetery. Each week, we’re bringing you stories of how people ended up on Hart Island, the lives they lived and the people they left behind.
On September 28th, we’re launching a new series: The Unmarked Graveyard: Stories from Hart Island. Hart Island is America’s largest public cemetery—sometimes known as a “potter’s field.” The island has no headstones or plaques, just numbered markers. More than a million people are buried on Hart Island and many are shrouded in anonymity. Explanations for how they ended up there can be hard to find. Over the next seven weeks, we’ll untangle mysteries about the lives they lived and the people they left behind.
In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league baseball 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 story was produced in collaboration with ESPN's 30 for 30.
On July 19, 1963, at least 15 Black girls were arrested while marching to protest segregation in Americus, Georgia. After spending a night in jail, they were transferred to the one-room Leesburg Stockade and imprisoned for the next 45 days. Only twenty miles away, the girls’ parents had no knowledge of their location. A month into their confinement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) heard rumors of the girls’ detention and sent photographer Danny Lyon, who took pictures of them through barred windows. Within days, those photographs appeared in publications around the country. As the girls’ ordeal gained national attention, they were released without charges. This is the story of the ‘Stolen Girls.’ ***** To see more photos by Danny Lyon, visit bleakbeauty.com and http://instagram.com/dannylyonphotos2.
One day in 1947, NYC bus driver William Cimillo showed up to his daily bus route, but instead of turning right, he turned left. Over the next week, he traveled 1,300 miles in his municipal bus, ending up in Hollywood, Florida. The bus had broken down, he’d run out of money, and had no way of getting home. Plus, he was now the most wanted bus driver in the country. This story originally aired on This American Life in 2014. Go to www.radiodiaries.org to find more stories and sign up for our monthly newsletter.
This week we’re featuring a story from NPR’s Embedded podcast. It’s the first episode in a new series called Buffalo Extreme, which follows a cheer team from Buffalo, New York, during the year after a racist mass shooting in their neighborhood. On May 14, 2022, the world changed for residents of Buffalo when a white man approached the Jefferson Street Tops supermarket and started shooting. He murdered ten and injured three people, almost all Black. That day, teenagers and children from a Black cheer team called BASE were at their gym around the corner. “Buffalo Extreme” is their story: a 3-part series that hands the mic to the girls, their moms, and their coaches as they navigate the complicated path to recovery.
This is the story of a song, “Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down.” It was written by a 12-year-old boy on what was supposed to be his deathbed. But the boy didn’t die. Instead, he went on to become a Pentecostal preacher, and later helped inspire the birth of Rock & Roll. The boy’s name was Brother Claude Ely, and he was known as The Gospel Ranger.
In the spring of 1981, the Pawtucket Red Sox and the Rochester Red Wings met for a minor league baseball 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. If you liked this episode, vote for us in the Webby Awards! The Webby’s celebrate the best of the internet, andThe Longest Game has been nominated for Best Documentary. You can vote at https://vote.webbyawards.com/PublicVoting#/2023/podcasts/individual-episodes/documentary.
Beauty pageants promote the fantasy of the ideal woman. But for 35 years, one contest in New York City celebrated the everyday working girl. Each month starting in 1941, a young woman was elected “Miss Subways,” and her face gazed down on transit riders as they rode through the city. Her photo was accompanied by a short bio describing her hopes, dreams and aspirations. The public got to choose the winners – so Miss Subway represented the perfect New York miss. She was also a barometer of changing times. Miss Subways was one of the first integrated beauty pageants in America. An African-American Miss Subways was selected in 1948 – more than thirty years before there was a black Miss America. By the 1950s, there were Miss Subways who were black, Asian, Jewish, and Hispanic – the faces of New York’s female commuters. In this episode of the Radio Diaries Podcast, meet the Miss Subways. This episode originally aired on NPR in 2012.
This week we’re bringing you a story about the 10th Mountain Division, a World War II military experiment to train skiers and climbers to fight in the mountains. The men of the 10th led a series of daring assaults against the German army in the mountains of Italy. Though the division fought in WWII for only four months, it had one of the highest casualty rates of the war. After they returned home, many of the soldiers helped to create the modern ski industry. This story originally aired on NPR’s All Things Considered in 2007.
Sofia Bretl has lived in New York City for the last decade. But she was born and raised in the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv, about 25 miles from the Russian border. The city has received some of the worst shelling so far in the war. That’s where her mother lived when war broke out. As conditions in Kharkiv worsened, they faced a difficult choice. Music in today’s episode includes the Ukrainian band Dakha Brakha — playing at San Francisco Jazz Center on March 14th. Proceeds and donations go to organizations supporting Ukraine. Other music from Blue Dot Sessions and Dakh Daughters.
On Valentine’s Day 2020, Peter Fodera’s heart broke. It stopped working. He collapsed in the middle of teaching a dance class. Someone performed CPR, someone called an ambulance. EMT’s showed up and he lay motionless. Many people in the class thought they had just witnessed the death of their favorite teacher. But later at the hospital, Peter’s heart started beating again. On the anniversary of Peter’s brush with death, he sat down with his daughter Juliana who has Noonan Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. While Peter’s experience may seem miraculous to some of us, it doesn’t to Juliana. By her count, she’s died 21 times. **** Music this week from Podington Bear, Blue Dot Sessions, Man Man, and Gotan Project.