On the night of July 13th, 1977, two young DJs named Disco Wiz and Grandmaster Casanova Fly were spinning records for a growing crowd on a busy street corner in the Bronx.
Around 9:30 that night, the city experienced a massive blackout, with power failing in all five boroughs. Looting, arson, and rioting occurred across the city, but Disco Wiz and Grandmaster Casanova Fly have their own theories about the effects of the blackout on the creative life of the Bronx and the birth of hip hop.
Lights Out explores what happened that night and how it might have influenced the invention of a new musical and cultural movement.
This story was produced with a grant from In the Dark, a UK-based radio organization. It has since aired on Re:sound, RTE Radio 1, and BBC Radio 4, and was written up by the Guardian’s radio critic.
THEN I got an email—out of the blue—from a student named Melissa Briers who discovered the story and animated the first minute of it. Hooray for random internet collaborations!
I’d love to see this whole story animated some day!
Meet the Garza sisters. Playing Tex-Mex Conjunto music used to be the sole domain of men… until Lala and Marcella took up the accordion and drums.
This story was reported with Arlette Flores, Jennifer Gonzalez, Roberto Hernandez, and Steven Ugalde. It was produced by Delaney Hall for Stories from Deep in the Heart, a project of Texas Folklife, and it aired on Latino USA.
In Austin, Baldomero Frank Alvarez Cuellar of Rancho Alegre Radio, is working to bring Conjunto music back to the life of the city. Conjunto has its roots in German polka as well as Mexican folk music, and is experiencing a small but lively revival in Texas.
This story first aired on All Things Considered as part of NPR’s City Life series.
A home aide lends an arm to an elderly man out for an afternoon walk. A nanny passes by, pushing a stroller. As domestic workers, these women are doing a job, but their work blends the professional and the intimate, and calls for a very particular kind of emotional labor.
Like most labor in a globalized world, this work of caring for others flows across borders. Women migrate from far away to tend to children and the elderly in U.S., and many leave their own families back home. They earn more money here than they could in their native countries, but their migration has consequences. Many hire their own domestic workers to care for their families while they’re gone.
This phenomenon, in which people around the globe are linked by the paid or unpaid domestic work they perform, is what sociologists call a “global care chain.” It describes the largely invisible financial—and emotional—network that links the U.S. with other parts of the developing world.
Over nine months of reporting, I traced a single care chain from start to finish. It begins in an apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and ends on a small island in the Philippines, a country that has become one of the world’s largest exporters of emotional labor.
Our guide is a Filipina woman named Alma, who migrated to New York ten years ago—leaving her daughter, mother, and father in the care of several helpers. We begin in Manhattan, where a group of Filipina workers, including Alma, have gathered to celebrate far from home.
I produced this story for my MA project at the Columbia School of Journalism. It aired on Re:sound on Chicago Public Radio.
Chris Watson is one of the leading nature field recordists in the world. That means he spends a lot of time traveling to remote parts of the planet to record sounds you might never hear otherwise – cheetahs purring, glaciers melting, or the Capercaillie’s intricate mating display. He’s been interested in “secret sound worlds” since he was a little kid.
For Chris Watson, listening is a complicated thing. It’s about hearing amazing sounds, but it’s also about memory, mindfulness, and ecology.
Originally aired on Re:sound.
When I travel, I love to take binaural microphones and collect sounds of the places I’m visiting. Here are a couple of soundscapes from recent years.