We talk with people who can’t (or, until recently, couldn’t) vote in November.

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Desmond Meade, Jack Vaile, Pamela Colon, Christine Swanson and Jacob Dennis have disenfranchisement in common.

By Avery Kleinman

When America selects its next president, many people will choose not to vote. Voter turnout dropped to a 20 year low in 2016. Only about 55 percent of eligible voters participated. But there are also many people who want to vote and who are directly affected by the president’s policies.

Desmond Meade lost his right to vote when he was convicted of a felony. He gained it back after Florida passed Amendment 4, which re-enfranchised those who’d completed their sentences. In some states, people with felony convictions are still not allowed to vote.

Jack Vaile lost his right to vote when his father became his legal guardian. Jack has cerebral palsy and communicates using an augmentative communication device. In many states, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities who are under guardianships cannot vote. …

We had to cancel our internship program this summer. We’re bummed out about it, so we made this post for you.

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Our team, hard at work. (Credit: Tyrone Turner/WAMU)

We love mentoring and working with interns — you can tell because many on our team started there. But fret not, prospective interns: You can still connect with us about the wild world of the live NPR talk show. Every person listed here can download with you about the skills they listed.

Producer Haili Blassingame

Haili came to 1A after interning with NPR’s Code Switch and Weekend Edition. She can talk about producing a live show from start to finish — writing a script, tips for booking guests, editing audio and general journalism stuff. Reach her at hblassin@wamu.org.

Associate Producer Arfie Ghedi

Arfie came to 1A after interning at Twin Cities PBS and The Atlantic. She can talk to you about booking big gets, scripting, and any other early career journalism stuff. Say hey at aghedi@wamu.org. …

Producer Avery Kleinman worked on personal shows before. But working on COVID-19’s impact on the live music industry brought her to tears.

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Producer Avery Kleinman loves live music. This photo is from 2017, when she saw Umphrey's McGee at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater in Colorado.

By Avery Kleinman

During a recent conversation with a potential 1A guest, I found myself on the verge of tears for the first time. I swallowed them back, but when the call ended, I walked to my couch. I sat down, put my face in my hands and sobbed.

As a 1A producer, I’ve covered difficult topics before, like sexual assault or family estrangement. I brought personal experience to both of those shows, but I remained level-headed while I worked on them.

But I couldn’t stay composed as I dove into my latest topic: what the coronavirus pandemic means for the live music industry. I’ve gone to concerts on a near-weekly basis for almost seven years. Live music has given me some of the brightest moments of my life. …

Is running as an anti-Trump candidate enough for Democrats to win back states they lost in 2016?

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One of many pro-Trump signs outside a manufacturing facility in Detroit, MI. | James Morrison/WAMU

President Donald Trump won the 2016 election by fewer than 80,000 votes, across Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.

The blue-collar, union-heavy workforce once represented a reliable base of Democratic support in these states. And four years ago, some of these voters unexpectedly crossed party lines to vote for now-President Trump.

Was that an anomaly? Or is it a sign the Democratic Party’s base is undergoing a more permanent realignment? And how can the party convince the base to turn out?

Our Across America producer James Morrison went to Michigan to speak to three voters from different parts of the Detroit region. …

We read a lot this year. So did you. We wanted to share some of our favorites.

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Our bookshelf at WAMU is almost always full! (Gabrielle Healy/WAMU)

People tend to ask our production staff — how do you find show ideas?

Of course, there’s the daily news cycle that provides endless fodder for topics we cover all the time (hello, impeachment). But inspiration comes from everywhere, especially the books and articles that we read, the movies we watch and podcasts we listen to. So to share with you what we were thinking about this year, we decided to make a list of the best things we read in 2019.

Some of these are books and ideas we’ve featured on the program. Others are not. And of course, this isn’t a comprehensive list. But we wanted to share some of the stories that surprised and delighted us this year, just like we hope to do for our audience every day. …

From pop star Charli XCX to the boomer who called us about “ok boomer,” we wanted to celebrate some of the people who shared their stories with us this year.

Compiled by 1A producer Kathryn Fink

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Adam Rippon and Joshua Johnson at WAMU in October. Chris Tylec | WAMU

From the beginning, 1A has committed to being a conduit for personal stories. Our listeners and guests place enormous trust in our team to handle the details of their lives with care. In turn, our conversations are stronger, richer and more nuanced. We’re so grateful because we couldn’t do it without them.

Here’s a celebration of some of the people we met this year.

Asiaha Butler

Appeared on: “Meet The Weavers

Asiaha Butler is passionate about where she lives and the people who live there. She refuses to accept that her neighborhood, one of the most dangerous in Chicago, has to stay that way. She is the president of the Resident Association of Greater Englewood — known locally as R.A.G.E. Asiaha reminded me that it is not just first responders who run toward what most of us might choose to leave behind. It was her humility that left a mark on me as a listener. I was thrilled that we had the chance to spotlight her work and the impact she had on a place that’s too easily dismissed and stereotyped.

1A Across America producer James Morrison talked with progressive grassroots activists in Alabama about their efforts to break Republican control of the South.

By James Morrison

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Cara McClure of Black Voters Matter and Dana Ellis of Moms Demand Action met at Z’s Restaurant in Birmingham in November 2019 to talk about Democratic political strategy in Alabama. (JAMES MORRISON/WAMU)

In the Republican-controlled American southeast, progressive activists say a recent wave of blue victories signals a changing political landscape.

Voters in Louisiana and Kentucky sent a Democrat to the governor’s mansion this month, even after President Trump held campaign events for the Republican candidates in each state.

The Virginia state legislature flipped entirely blue this month, giving Democrats control of both chambers and the governor’s office.

In Alabama, Pat Siano with Organize Alabama says President Trump’s victory in 2016, coupled with activist movements like Black Lives Matter and the March for Our Lives, is reinvigorating progressives.

Activists, she says, are creating stronger political networks, funding streams and a new slate of younger, more energized candidates in the South, she adds.

“We think in terms of ‘Before Trump’ and ‘After Trump’ here in Alabama,” says Siano. “Consciousness took a big leap forward after Trump got elected about what we need to do in the long haul.”

There’s evidence of this new energy in nonpartisan Alabama races as well. Montgomery and Talladega made history this month when voters elected their first black mayors.

“There’s a new breed of candidates popping up. They’re regular folks like myself,” says Cara McClure, a community organizer with Black Voters Matter in Birmingham.

McClure ran for Alabama’s Public Service Commission in 2018 — a statewide office — but lost.

“I used to think you had to be a doctor or a lawyer to run for office,” she says. “Now I know anyone can run.”

McClure credits the 2018 gubernatorial campaigns of Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida for creating excitement and a political roadmap for Democratic candidates in the South.

“We saw a glimmer of hope,” McClure says. “We saw how Abrams built coalitions and attracted funding and said: ‘We can do that.’”

Democratic victories in the South and McClure’s candidacy for statewide office in Alabama illustrate two changes to the political landscape in the largely one-party region.

First, activists, organizers and “everyday people” are ready to throw themselves into the political arena.

Second, it highlights the importance of a healthy state party system to help candidates who aren’t independently wealthy or tapped into existing funding streams.

“I ran with no help from the state Democratic Party and almost won,” says McClure. …

1A Across America producer Amanda Williams drove from Wichita to Kansas City. On the way, she spoke with Kansans across the political spectrum about the impeachment inquiry.

By Amanda Williams

Nationwide support for impeaching President Trump is growing by the day, polling indicates, as more information is shared about the nature and motives behind his request for Ukraine to investigate a political rival.

In Kansas — a state Trump won by 21 points — you’ll likely hear a different story.

“It’s all a joke,” said rancher Jerry Lehmann over coffee in Strong City, Kan. “I’d almost call it a terrorist attack on the office of the president.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) opened an impeachment inquiry on Sept. 24 after evidence surfaced that President Trump asked the president of Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joseph Biden, a potential Democratic opponent in the 2020 election. The president’s request could be a violation of several federal laws. …

Audio fiction has a long history. But its recent resurgence is due to an inclusive, uplifting culture among its creators and fans.

By Morgan Givens

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Morgan Givens works on his hopepunk fiction podcast “Flyest Fables” | Photo by Ashleigh Bing

Even though the medium has waxed and waned in popularity, audio fiction and audio drama are coming back strong. And that’s because these podcasts find space for the stories that are typically overlooked by Hollywood and the publishing industry.

And they’re flourishing as independent black, brown and LGBTQ+ creators craft stories that center their voices and experiences.

People asked for recommendations about where to start with audio fiction after the conversation I produced about it for 1A aired. And I’m a bit of an audio fiction nerd. Let me rephrase. …

As more states and companies want to use renewable energy, where does it come from? And how does that demand impact the communities that produce it?

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A wind turbine in Kansas rises over a field. The average wind speed is 14 miles an hour. (James Morrison/WAMU).

Renewable energy production in the United States is at record levels. And America’s use of renewable energy sources, like wind and solar power, continues to rise, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In late September, New York and Maine joined several other states in requiring 100 percent of energy to come from renewable sources by 2050.

This push is coming from the private sector as well. Over 200 companies, including Apple and Bank of America, committed to offsetting their carbon emissions by 100 percent by 2050.

While the increase in demand might seem good for proponents of action on climate change, stakeholders are starting to wonder: Where does renewable come from? …



1A is the midday news show from @WAMU885 and @NPR. Find the podcast at npr.org/1a.

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