Extraordinary Stories of Ordinary Life

About Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries tells the extraordinary stories of ordinary life. Since 1996, we’ve been giving people tape recorders and working with them to report on their own lives and histories. We’ve collaborated with teenagers and octogenarians, prisoners and prison guards, gospel preachers and bra saleswomen, the famous and the unknown…and along the way we’ve helped pioneer a new form of citizen journalism. Radio Diaries has won every major award in broadcast journalism and produced some of the most memorable documentaries ever heard on public radio. Our stories are broadcast on NPR’s All Things Considered, This American Life, BBC, and on The Radio Diaries Podcast. We also publish educational materials, including the Radio Diaries DIY Handbook. Radio Diaries is a not-for-profit organization, and a proud member of Radiotopia  from PRX — a curated network of cutting-edge, extraordinary podcasts.

Press reviews and highlights.

Radio Diaries stories do the rarest thing that any kind of journalism does. They truly make us see what it would be like to live someone else’s life.
—Ira Glass

Radio Diaries Staff and Contributors

Alissa Escarce HeadshotProducer
Alissa Escarce comes to Radio Diaries from Latino USA, where she reported on politics, immigration, new books, and music. At NPR, Alissa helped launch the Life Kit podcast and reported stories for Planet Money and Morning Edition. Before getting into radio, she worked for immigration advocacy nonprofits as a Spanish-English translator.

Managing Producer Nellie Gilles began working in the radio world in 2010 as an engineer and producer at The Radio Foundation in New York. She spent several years hitting the pavement as a freelancer and contributor to WNYC and WBAI before joining Radio Diaries in 2016. She now oversees production of new stories and series, spearheads development efforts and produces documentaries for NPR and the Radio Diaries Podcast.

Assistant producer Mycah Hazel is an audio journalist and writer born and based in New York City. She works to research, develop, produce, and fact-check stories for the Radio Diaries Podcast, NPR’s All Things Considered and writes print articles for publication on NPR.org. Mycah made her debut on the Radio Diaries podcast with an audio documentary about the 1968 Kerner Commission for our Last Witness series. She’s reported and produced stories on pop culture, history, and style for The Cut, Vox, WNYC, and others.

Radio Diaries Founder and Executive Producer Joe Richman is a Peabody award-winning producer and reporter whose pioneering series Teenage Diaries brought the voices of teenagers to a national audience on NPR’s All Things Considered. Before founding Radio Diaries, he worked on the NPR programs All Things Considered, Weekend Edition Saturday, Car Talk, and Heat. Joe also teaches radio documentary at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. The LA Times called Joe “a kind of Studs Terkel of the airwaves.”

Development and Operations Coordinator Lena Engelstein joined Radio Diaries in 2023. She is an arts administrator and performer, who’s worked at The Center for Arts Education, Tate Americas Foundation, FAILSPACE, The Field Center, and Immediate Medium. Lena also performs in dance-based work around New York City at venues such as New York Live Arts, Danspace, Pageant, and the Brick.

Senior Editor Deborah George has worked for NPR News, Weekend Edition, American RadioWorks, and the Invisibilia and Reveal podcasts. She’s covered stories ranging from the Rwandan genocide to the Los Angeles riots. Her awards include the George F. Peabody Award, the Robert F. Kennedy Award, the Edward R. Murrow award, and the duPont-Columbia Silver and Gold Batons.

Editor and Producer Ben Shapiro is an award-winning radio producer and documentary filmmaker, based in New York. His projects have aired on NPR, PBS, and the Sundance Channel, among others.

Radio Diaries Board

Rachael Barrett,
(Chair) Owner at R. E. Barrett and Associates LLC
Jimmie Briggs, (Officer) Principal at Skoll Foundation
Ira Glass, (Officer) Host and Executive Producer, This American Life
Jake Shapiro, (Officer) Head of Creator Partnerships, Apple Podcasts
John McGinn, (Officer)Vice Chairman of the National Public Radio Foundation
Joe Richman, (Officer) Founder, and Executive Producer, Radio Diaries

Radio Diaries Academic Advisors

David Barton Smith, Research Professor, Drexel University and Emeritus Professor, Temple University
Keisha L. Bentley-Edwards, Assistant Professor, Duke University Medical Center
Elizabeth Blackmar, Professor of History, Columbia University
Selfa A. Chew-Meléndez, Associate Professor of Instruction History, University of Texas at El Paso
David Greenberg, Professor of History and of Journalism & Media Studies at Rutgers University
Leslie Heaphy, Associate Professor of History, Kent State University
Martha Hodes, Professor of History, New York University
Aaron J.Johnson, Assistant Professor of Music, University of Pittsburgh
Robin D. G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History, the University of California at Los Angeles
Paul Kramer, Associate Professor of History, Vanderbilt University
Alex Lichtenstein, Professor of History, Indiana University and Editor, American Historical Review
Joanne Meyerowitz, Professor of History and American Studies, Yale University
Kara Murphy Schlichting, Assistant Professor of History, Queens College
Paul Sutter, Professor of Environmental History, University of Colorado, Boulder
Renee Romano, Professor of History, Oberlin College
David G. Schwartz, Associate Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Joseph F. Spillane, Professor of History, University of Florida

Our Awards

Peabody Award, Teen Contender
Audie Award, Audiobook of the Year, Mandela: An Audio History
duPont-Columbia Award, Mandela: An Audio Historypeabody
RFK Journalism Award, Mandela: An Audio History, Teenage Diaries
Overseas Press Club Award, Thembi’s AIDS Diary
Edward R. Murrow Award, Thembi’s AIDS Diary and Mexico ’68
National Journalism Award, Thembi’s AIDS Diary and The Last Man on the Mountain
Sigma Delta Chi Award,
Prison Diaries and Teenage Diaries
Casey Journalism Award,
Teenage Diaries
The Ambies (Nominated for Best Sports Podcast), The Longest Game
Third Coast Award,
Centenarians in Lockdown, Majd’s Diary, My So-Called Lungs, Mandela, The Traveling Electric Chair, Teen Contender, and Melissa’s Diary Revisited


Radio Diaries receives funding from National Endowment for the Arts, National Endowment for the Humanities, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts, NYC Department of Cultural Affairs, Two West Foundation, Horace Goldsmith Foundation, David & Katherine Moore Foundation and listeners like you.

Thanks especially to the generous folks in our Producers Circle: George Loening, Howard and Debbie Chasanow, Caitlin LaCroix, Carol Nelson, Susanna Nicholson, Phyllis Richman, Linda Gruber, Jamie Dell’Apa, Judy Wise, Tom Tryforos, Esther Saks, Suzanne Costas, and Nadine Semer.

If you’re interested in joining our Producers Circle, please contact Joe Richman at joe@radiodiaries.org