We Met Some Fantastic People In 2019. Here Are Some Of Their Stories.
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
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.
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.
-Rupert Allman, Executive Producer
Appeared on: “Breaking The Rules With Charli XCX”
Meeting Charli XCX stuck out to me mostly because I am a stan, but also because it was an interesting insight into someone who has been such a pop culture phenomenon. She mentioned “Skins” and MySpace and it was very nostalgic and funny. She gave us great opportunities to play her songs. She also wore pleather boots which was a nice reminder that it’s okay, sometimes even encouraged, to be extra in the middle of the day.
-Arfie Ghedi, Associate Producer
Listeners Who Shared Stories About Pregnancy Loss
Appeared on: “What Does It Mean To Lose A Pregnancy?”
The listener voices in the montage at the beginning of this hour brought me to tears when I first heard them and again just now. This is personally an important issue for me and this hour is the kind of hour that really helps people.
-Jonathan Peck, Director of Station Relations
Appeared on: “1A Across America: Being Somali American”
Nadia Mohamed, a 23-year-old, made history as the first Somali Muslim to be elected to the city council of St. Louis Park, Minnesota. But we talked to Councilmember Mohamed before she was elected. Producer Amanda Williams invited her to be a part of the Across America conversation about being Somali American that took place in Minneapolis in August. She was a completely new voice I had never heard before. As she talked about being caught between two cultures and why she wanted to run for office, I was struck by her confidence and optimism, and her observations about race. Minnesota is home to the largest Somali American population in the U.S., but you rarely hear directly from members of the community like this. Nadia Mohamed is one to watch. I wouldn’t be surprised if she ended up in Congress or the Senate in the future.
-Danielle Knight, Senior Producer
She was a last-minute addition but a fantastic guest, so forthright and honest about her experience. She’s also in her early 20s, and at the time of our conversation was running for a city council seat which she has since won, becoming the youngest Somali American woman to hold a seat on the St. Louis Park City Council.
-Amanda Williams, 1A Across America Live Events Producer
Appeared on: “Colson Whitehead Exhumes The Past In ‘The Nickel Boys’”
A new book by Colson Whitehead is sure to get a lot of attention for the literary superstar — but we also wanted to elevate the voices of the people who inspired Whitehead’s book. Charlie Fudge spoke to us about his experience incarcerated at an abusive boys’ reform school in the ’50s and ’60s. All these decades later, it was evident during the interview that the pain from that experience is still very raw.
-Avery Kleinman, Producer
Appeared on: “Heading Out On The Ice With Adam Rippon”
Figure skater and Olympian Adam Rippon is easily one of my favorite people I’ve met working on 1A this year. I interrupted several important conversations and annoyed myriad WAMU employees laughing at his memoir, Beautiful on the Outside, while sitting in the station’s basement. His interview on the show was just as warm and smile-worthy as his writing. We never did get to hear all about his famous tuxedo/harness though…
-Chris Castano, Digital Producer
Appeared on: “1A Across America: Missed (Internet) Connections In Kansas”
Before producing this show, I naively assumed broadband internet exists most everywhere in the country. Tiya, a cattle rancher in rural Kansas, opened my eyes. She shared a shocking story about how debilitating it’s been to live without reliable internet access: she can’t conduct business online, she can’t use an alarm system on her home, she has trouble reaching a veterinarian if her cows are sick, and she often has to drive her kids to a McDonald’s 30 minutes away so they can do their homework online. But she refuses to give up on her land and her livelihood. She’s currently raising awareness by testifying before the Kansas State Senate about this issue.
-Kathryn Fink, Producer
Appeared on: “Twenty Years Later, A Look At Columbine, Then And Now”
This year was the 20th anniversary of the Columbine shooting — something I still remember hearing about, standing in the fourth-grade lunch line what seems like eons ago. We collaborated with Guns & America, a special reporting project based out of WAMU, to put together a complex portrait of Colorado two decades after the attack. No survivor responded to the shooting in the same way — one man became a gun rights activist; one father devoted himself to closing the gun show loophole; and one woman, Noel Sudano, became a guidance counselor at Columbine High School. It was a fascinating hour where your heart broke for everyone interviewed — regardless of where you happened to fall on the gun-control spectrum.
-Paige Osburn, Senior Producer
Peggy Flanagan, Lieutenant Governor of Minnesota
Appeared on: “1A Across America: Indigenous And In Office”
I wasn’t familiar with Minnesota’s Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan until this conversation. She talked about the murder of a young Native woman, Savannah Greywind. It was clear from Joshua’s reaction that he didn’t know the story — and neither did I. Lt. Gov. Flanagan responded with “everyone in Indian Country knows this story — everybody.” It was a searing example of how little many of us know about communities outside our own. We often don’t know each other’s MOST important stories. Lt. Gov. Flanagan was in control of this conversation. She wasn’t there to provide soundbites to fill in someone else’s narrative. I appreciate that 1A provides space for this. And since 1A Across America has an ongoing reporting partnership in Minnesota, meeting Lt. Gov. Flanagan was just the start of learning more about the state.
-Aileen Humphreys, 1A Plus Editor
Appeared on: “Chanel Miller Wants You To Know Her Name”
It was gripping to hear how Chanel Miller shed her “Emily Doe” identity and told the untold story of the Brock Turner case. While we originally only had her viral victim impact statement, now we have the full other side to the story. From hearing her experience with the criminal justice system, to how she is healing while recognizing the past, Miller is a powerful and insightful voice.
-Michelle Harven, Producer
A Listener Named Paul
Appeared on: “‘Ok Boomer:’ Apathy, Anger And The Birth Of A Meme”
This voicemail made me feel hopeful that we can bridge the generational gap between Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z-ers. Paul was an example of listening to understand, so people of all backgrounds can collaborate for the better.
-Naina Rao, Associate Producer
Appeared on: “1A Across America: Breaking The One-Party South”
We met Cara McClure during our visit to Birmingham in November. She was really inspiring because she represents a new type of political candidate in the American South. She was formerly homeless and never thought about running for office until after the 2016 election. She and other organizers with Black Voters Matter have used the campaigns of Stacey Abrams in Georgia and Andrew Gillum in Florida to create a road map for candidates in Alabama.
-James Morrison, 1A Across America Field Producer
Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee
As a longtime fan of Tracee Ellis Ross as a fashion icon and an actress, it was great to hear about her work on Time’s Up Healthcare. This interview also gave me the opportunity to learn much more about her aunt, Dr. Barbara Ross-Lee, the first Black woman to be named dean of a medical college. Hearing them in conversation with each other, both about their own relationship and about the work they’re doing to raise awareness about gender inequity and sexual harassment in the workplace, was as charming as it was illuminating.
-Stacia Brown, Producer
A Listener Named Kyle
Appeared on: “How To Raise Boys”
I felt that Kyle’s story was extremely poignant and gut-wrenching, but it was so crucial to the conversation, particularly in our attempt to talk candidly about men and violence, and men who experience violence at the hands of other men. It was such a graphic illustration of the mundane and violent experiences often entangled in boyhood that I had to pause when it first arrived in our inbox, but I think the vivid image he conjures added a dimension to the discussion that was necessary. I think people needed to see what we were talking about, to see the ways a certain kind of performance of masculinity hurts everyone, even those who are taught to perform it, perhaps especially those who are taught to perform it. I found it to be a really powerful piece of radio.
-Haili Blassingame, Producer
One of my favorite people we met this year was Alice Levitt, the author of a viral essay about taking ketamine to help her depression. Depression affects more than 16 million Americans. Alice was able to talk about her personal experience with treatment-resistant depression and the success she had in treating it after taking ketamine. She was open about how frustrating her treatment process had been. I so appreciated her candor, especially because several listeners wrote in during the hour that they, or someone they knew, had similar experiences.
-Gabrielle Healy, Digital Producer
Appeared on: “Elizabeth Acevedo On The Fire Behind Storytelling”
Elizabeth Acevedo, much like her books, is hard to walk away from. She joined us to talk about her most recent novel With the Fire on High. This conversation spans the gamut — it touches on everything from food to teaching to the current role of young adult fiction.
-Jonquilyn Hill, Producer
A Listener Named Sarah
Left a voicemail for: “Undocumented But In Demand: Immigration And Labor In America”
When we asked for listeners’ stories for a show on undocumented labor, I was surprised by the number of employers we heard from. There were several great voicemails we just didn’t have time to include in the hour, including this perspective from a neighbor of President Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
-Orion Donovan-Smith, Associate Producer
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