American RadioWorks |
(Photos: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library)

The First Family of Radio

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt both used the new medium of radio to reach into American homes like never before. They rallied the nation to combat the Great Depression and fight fascism. The Roosevelts forged an uncommonly personal relationship with the people. This documentary explores how FDR and ER's use of radio revolutionized the way Americans relate to the White House and its occupants.

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in collaboration with Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity

Encourage people to tell their own stories

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From: Elaine B., Memphis, TN

I tell stories to children who are falling behind academically in the public school, and I tell stories to women in the county correctional system. I provide opportunities for the students and inmates to share their personal stories, and I promote listening as a valuable skill. When people, young or old, are given the opportunity to tell their stories to other people who really listen, transformation happens. Poverty erodes self image and makes us think we do not matter, that we are invisible. By listening, neighbors, family members, teachers, co-workers and church members can pull each other out of poverty's destructive forces.

Last year I gave each of the children a disposable camera when they went home for the holiday break, instructing them to take pictures of their family. I told them I would develop the pictures and make an album for each child. They would be expected to stand up and tell us the story of "My Family and the Holidays." One boy used all 24 exposures taking pictures of the television. He took 24 pictures of 24 programs on television. Each child took pictures that included images of the television set. In every case the television was the most photographed member of the family and a central character in the holiday story.

This project turned out to be very telling about the children and their struggles to succeed in school. No one at home has the time or capacity to listen to the children, look into their faces and attend to their narratives and needs. Poverty robs mothers and fathers of their time for parenting. Poverty robs parents of their self worth and their dreams. So they finally give up on even trying to pass along anything positive. Face to face sessions of storytelling and story listening can open new windows for change and hope. Sitting in a safe circle where all stories are heard and respected as sacred gifts, we can hear people's dreams coming back to life. Each human being is so much more than what they possess or how much money they keep in the bank account. Each story is a reflection of power and purpose. A story shared is a story made real.


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American RadioWorks |
(Photos: Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library)

The First Family of Radio

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected president in 1932, he and first lady Eleanor Roosevelt both used the new medium of radio to reach into American homes like never before. They rallied the nation to combat the Great Depression and fight fascism. The Roosevelts forged an uncommonly personal relationship with the people. This documentary explores how FDR and ER's use of radio revolutionized the way Americans relate to the White House and its occupants.

Recent Posts

  • 12.16.14

    Rising prices on the poorest

    In January 2014 nearly a hundred college presidents gathered at the White House for a summit on the rising cost of college. But data show that those same institutions have been raising their prices fastest for the poorest students than for wealthier ones. This week on the podcast, we talk to a reporter who has been following the rising college cost burden on poor families.
  • 12.08.14

    How Much Will College Cost My Family?

    In 2011 the federal government required colleges and universities to publish “net price calculators” on their web sites. These tools are supposed to help families figure out which colleges they can afford. The calculators take into account family income, number of kids in college, state of residency, and other factors. But they’re often hard to use and time-consuming. Our guest this week has made this process simpler and more accessible.
  • 12.01.14

    Bridging the “Middle Skills” Gap

    There’s a paradox in today’s job market: even though there are millions of people looking for work, employers say they can’t find enough qualified workers. That’s due to an abundance of what economists call “middle skills” jobs – jobs that require specialized training beyond high school, but not a four-year college degree.
  • 12.01.14

    Commentary: Turning the tables on the vocational ed debate

    I’m not arguing that all education should be about acquiring job skills ... I’m saying that good vocational high schools have figured out how to bring college prep into their curriculum. And it’s time that traditional academic high schools brought more vocational education into theirs.