Category Archives: Reports & Documentaries

Reports & Documentaries
I’ve produced a variety of reports and documentaries, in the U.S. and abroad. I’ve reported from Poland for NPR, the BBC, Radio Netherlands Worldwide and others. I’ve contributed to programs like “This American Life” and “The World.” I’ve also produced a few Polish language pieces for Polish Radio’s Documentary section. These are a few samples of those reports and documentaries.

The Thin Blue Ribbon

Climate scientists see what others don’t: that the planet – if we make no adjustments – faces dramatic and destructive changes. Many climate scientists suffer from depression, from PTSD, from resignation, from despair. Then there’s Piers Sellers – a climatologist and former astronaut. In December 2015, he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic cancer – and barely a year later, on December 23, 2016 he passed away.

Those months after his diagnosis, however, were not filled with despair. Facing his own mortality during that time – paradoxically – reignited his hope. This is Sellers’ story, completed in the months while Piers was still alive and broadcast as part of WBEZ Chicago’s Heat of the Moment series on climate change. I produced it, Alex Kotlowitz reports.

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Kalief Browder, In His Own Words

Think back to your high school years – where you lived, who your friends were, what you were into.  Now imagine that your junior and senior years of high school never happened: that instead, you had spent those years trapped in a jail cell – without ever even being convicted of a crime. This is not a story out of Kafka.  It’s what happened to Kalief Browder, a Bronx teenager. When Browder was 16, he was arrested for robbery and assault after allegedly stealing a backpack.  He spent three years on Rikers Island, New York City’s notorious jail, waiting to go to trial.

New Yorker staff writer Jennifer Gonnerman wrote about Browder in 2014, and the case put a spotlight on all the failings of New York City’s justice system: delays in the courts, the overuse of solitary confinement, teenagers charged as adults, brutality on the part of corrections officers. Two years after Browder got out of jail, he took his own life. His suicide became national news, and was mentioned by President Obama in an op-ed questioning the use of solitary confinement.

I worked with Jen Gonnerman, going back to the hours of recordings from her interviews with him, to produce this program for The New Yorker Radio Hour as a memorial. It aired in June 2016, the anniversary of Kalief Browder’s death. 

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photo by Zach Gross

New Old Town

Warsaw’s reconstructed historic Old Town is a triumph of post-war recovery. But there’s something you may not realize – it’s not really a reconstuction. It’s a re-imagining. An historic city that never really was.

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This story aired on Roman Mars’ remarkable 99% Invisible, as he describes it, “a tiny radio show about design, architecture & the 99% invisible activity that shapes our world.”

 

Mike & Victor

The story of how a family was made, and then re-made. Produced with Alex Kotlowitz for WBEZ Chicago’s “Race: Out Loud” series, it won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism and a National Edward R. Murrow Award. Huge thanks to WBEZ’s Cate Cahan, who edited.

The Cross

After a 2010 plane crash killed dozens of Polish dignitaries, including the president, some thought that the country would cross the political rift and come together to mourn. But here’s what happened instead.

This story aired on This American Life as part of the episode “Nemeses.”

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Goodnight, Warsaw

I reported for The World on the Warsaw-based musical duo Paula and Karol. Incredibly nice people making lovely music. Listen and learn, though, why being nice on the Polish music scene can be a bit of a problem.

Miłość w innym języku (Love in Another Language)

I produced this feature with the internationally acclaimed Polish producer Hanna Bogoryja-Zakrzewska. It’s about a group of men from across Europe who took a Polish language class in Warsaw together. When the instructor went around the room and asked each student why they were there, they each had the same answer – a girl.  Their story is about trying to learn a language that has over a dozen different ways to say “two.” And what happens when you fall in love with someone and neither of you share a native language in common.

(sorry, no English transcript available)