Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life
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Diaries

We give people tape recorders and help them to document their own lives for public radio.

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New Podcast: Weasel’s Diary, Revisited

We check in with Jose William Huezo Soriano – aka Weasel – 15 years after he recorded his audio diary about being deported to El Salvador.

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Frankie: 16 Years Later

As a teenager, Frankie was a high school football star whose picture was in his hometown newspaper every week. Years after graduating, Frankie was back in the paper—when he was arrested for drug related crimes. In his new diary, Frankie tells his story of crystal meth addiction and takes his recorder along while he attempts to repair his relationship with his family. With a baby on the way, Frankie is hoping for a second chance.

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Josh: 16 Years Later

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 it hasn’t been easy for him. Josh’s new diary is about trying to live a normal adult life with a brain that often betrays him.

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Amanda: 16 Years Later

At the age of 17, Amanda knew she was gay. But her 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 having a daughter who is gay.

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Melissa: 16 Years Later

As an 18 year old raised in the foster care system, Melissa took NPR listeners along when she gave birth to her son Issaiah. Over the past 16 years Melissa and her son have faced many challenges, from eviction notices to her son’s life-threatening medical diagnosis. In her new diary, Melissa chronicles her life as a working single mother, and reveals things about her past that her son has never known.

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Juan: 16 Years Later

16 years ago, Juan reported on his life as a recent Mexican immigrant living in poverty in Texas. In his new diary, Juan takes us on a tour of 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 he’s still living illegally in the U.S.

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Teen Contender

At 16, Claressa Shields was the youngest woman to compete for a spot on the first-ever women’s Olympic boxing team.

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Teenage Diaries Series

Since 1996, Radio Diaries has given tape recorders to young people around the country and worked with them to produce the Teenage Diaries series for NPR.

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Weasel’s Diary: Deported

A 26-year-old Los Angeles resident gets deported to his parents’ home country of El Salvador, which he has not seen since age five.

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Thembi’s AIDS Diary

Thembi Ngubane was willing to stand up and speak out at a time when few South Africans were willing to say, “I have AIDS.”

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The Last Place: Diary of a Retirement Home

A group of residents of The Presbyterian Home use tape recorders to document their lives in retirement.

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My So-Called Lungs

Laura Rothenberg tried to live a normal life, with lungs that betrayed her and the awareness that she might not live to see her 30th birthday.

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Going Home: Cristel’s Diary

At 15, Cristel attacked a classmate with a razor blade. After 3 years of incarceration, she’s being released.

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Serving 9 to 5: Correctional Officers’ Diary

Diaries from officers who work behind bars at Polk Youth Institution.

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Doing Time: John’s Diary

As a kid, John dreamed of becoming a police officer, but by the age of 17, John had committed more than 75 armed robberies.

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Matthew and the Judge: Juvenile Court Diary

Through their diaries, Matthew and Judge Jeremiah tell the same story from two different sides of the bench.

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Amanda’s Diary: Girlfriend

Amanda is gay. Amanda’s family is Catholic. And she’s having a hard time convincing her parents that this is not “just a phase.”

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Josh’s Diaries: Tourette’s / First Kiss

Josh has Tourette’s Syndrome, a neurological disorder that causes uncontrollable tics and involuntary verbal outbursts.

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Melissa’s Diaries: Teen Mom / Raising Issaiah

Melissa never meant to get pregnant. But now, after 12 years of living in the foster care system, she’s trying to build the family she never had.

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Frankie’s Diaries: Welcome Home, Dad / Football

Frankie always thought his family was pretty normal until the day the FBI showed up.

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Juan’s Diaries: Looking at the Rio Grande

Juan and his family crossed the Rio Grande illegally into Texas four years ago.

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Jeff’s Diary: Halfrican

More and more these days Jeff finds himself thinking about race as he’s confronted with the question “What are you?”

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Randy’s Diary: Remembering Ozell

While living on a farm that was once part of a slave plantation, Randy searches for clues about the life of his great-grandfather, the civil rights leader Ozell Mitchell.

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Emily’s Diary: Teenage Days

Emily gives an inside look at “sportos,” “krusties,” “krinkles,” and how being a teenager isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

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Nick’s Diary: Home School to High School

Nick chronicles a turbulent year in his life. He’s 15-years-old and hates school, but somehow he must learn to make friends.

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Ricky’s Diary: What If God….

Ricky’s father is an atheist activist. Ricky is beginning his own search for something to believe in.

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Mandy’s Diary: God is My Guy

Mandy’s growing up with an evangelical pastor for a father.

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Esperanza Garden

Esperanza Garden was a much-loved community space in Manhattan’s East Village…until city bulldozers arrived to tear it down.

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