Sixteen years ago, independent producer Joe Richman gave a group of teenagers tape recorders to report on their own lives. The groundbreaking series Teenage Diaries produced some of the most personal and memorable stories heard on NPR and pioneered a movement of first-person narratives on public radio. Since then, listeners often ask: where are those teenagers now? NPR and Radio Diaries revisit the series 16 years later with new stories from the five original diarists in May on All Things Considered on witf.
Since 1996, Radio Diaries has been giving people tape recorders and working with them to report on their own lives and histories. Radio Diaries has won every major award in broadcast journalism and has produced some of the most memorable documentaries ever heard on public radio.
The stories broadcast on All Things Considered on witf beginning May 6:
Amanda (New York City)
At the age of 17, Amanda knew she was gay, but her Catholic parents kept insisting she'd grow out of it. Today, a lot has changed in the country, and within her own family. In her new story, Amanda goes back to her parents to find out how they came to accept her sexuality.
Sixteen years ago, Juan documented his life as a recent Mexican immigrant living in poverty in Texas. Juan's updated diary tours the life he has built since he first crossed the Rio Grande. It looks a lot like the typical American dream: a house, 2 cars, 3 kids -- except for the fact that he's still living as an undocumented immigrant in the U.S.
Melissa (New Jersey)
As an 18-year-old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Issaiah. Since then, Melissa and her son have faced many challenges, from eviction notices to her son's life-threatening medical diagnosis. In her new diary, she talks to her son for the first time about the circumstance of his birth.
Frankie was a high school football star and a staple feature in his hometown newspaper. Years after graduating, Frankie was back in the paper -- this time, for a drug-related arrest. Now after a devastating addiction to crystal meth and with a baby on the way, Frankie documents his attempts to repair his relationship with his family.
Josh (New York City)
In high school, Josh documented his life with Tourette's Syndrome: a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts. Today, Josh has overcome Tourette's enough to become a NYC public school teacher, but not enough to remain one. Josh's new diary is about trying to live a normal adult life with a brain that often betrays him
Get involved with the listener contest:
Teens are invited to submit their multimedia stories through May 31st at Cowbird.com; two winners will be selected to produce their stories with Radio Diaries, to air on All Things Considered in 2014.
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