Every year, the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists hosts an awards banquet honoring the best in Minnesota television, newspaper, magazine, and yes, radio journalism. Last week, I received a first place Page One award for “How Black Lives Matter Got an Anthem,” which I reported and produced for KFAI’s Minneculture series and then later adapted for the BBC’s Cultural Frontline.
KFAI producers Will Wright and Melissa Olson (featured above), also received awards for their work here and here. Producing a radio story is hard. Many thanks to our editor Todd Melby for leading us through the swamp of unwieldy raw tape to produce something that sings. A special thanks to musician Jayanthi Kyle for sharing her story with me and KFAI’s listeners.
(Photo from left to right: Will Wright, Melissa Olson, and me. Photo credit: Reem El-Radi)
Fifteen years ago, American musician Doug Little traveled Cuba to study Latin jazz. In Havana, he met a flute teacher who introduced him to a traditional Cuban musical style called “charanga.” Today, Little is the bandleader of Charanga Tropical, which is one of a just a handful of charanga ensembles in the United States. I reported this story for KFAI’s Minneculture. (Photo courtesy of Walter Horishnyk)
In the early 1980s, a Romanian ballet star named Carlos Stroia visited Little Falls, Minnesota to teach a few ballet classes. Surprisingly, he never left. (Photo by Nancy Rosenbaum)
Ever since Prince died in 2016, people who knew him have come forward with personal stories about what the famously private star was actually like as a person. One of those people is Minneapolis musician Gary Hines. Hines remembers how Prince didn’t exactly keep 9 to 5 hours. I reported this story for KFAI in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Karl Demer, Atomic K Studios)
On the day that Prince’s death was announced in April, I got a call from Ken Barcus, who is NPR’s Midwest Bureau Chief. He wanted to know if I could go to Prince’s Paisley Park estate and interview mourners. I got in my car and headed south to Chanhassen, Minnesota, which is about 30 minutes outside of Minneapolis. When I arrived in the late afternoon, the scene was somber and expectant. Helicopters were flying overhead. Fans trickled in with cards and flowers. The international news media was there, waiting for something to happen. Over the next few days, the fence around Paisley Park would explode into a memorial thick with poems, flowers, artwork, and many purple balloons. But on that first day, the fence was sparsely decorated. Fans at the scene seemed shell shocked. One of the people I interviewed that day was Suzanne O’Keefe (pictured below), who told me she had broken down crying when she learned about Prince’s death while sitting in a bank parking lot.
I filed several newscast spots for NPR in those first days following Prince’s death. Here’s a sampler of that coverage.