[Photo: LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman]

home > on-air > feature documentaries >

Ghetto Life 101
Recorded in Chicago, Illinois.
Premiered May 18, 1993, on WBEZ Chicago.

In March, 1993, LeAlan Jones, thirteen, and Lloyd Newman, fourteen, collaborated with public radio producer David Isay to create the radio documentary Ghetto Life 101, their audio diaries of life on Chicago's South Side. The boys taped for ten days, walking listeners through their daily lives: to school, to an overpass to throw rocks at cars, to a bus ride that takes them out of the ghetto, and to friends and family members in the community.

The candor in Jones and Newman's diaries brought listeners face to face with a portrait of poverty and danger and their effects on childhood in one of Chicago's worst housing projects. Like Vietnam War veterans in the bodies of young boys, Jones and Newman described the bitter truth about the sounds of machine guns at night and the effects of a thriving drug world on a community.

Ghetto Life 101 became one of the most acclaimed programs in public radio history, winning almost all of the major awards in American broadcasting, including: the Sigma Delta Chi Award, the Ohio State Award, the Livingston Award, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Awards for Excellence in Documentary Radio and Special Achievement in Radio Programming, and others. Ghetto Life 101 was also awarded the Prix Italia, Europe's oldest and most prestigious broadcasting award. It has been translated into a dozen languages and has been broadcast worldwide.

Reporters: LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman / Producers: David Isay, LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman / Editor: Gary Covino / Engineer: Caryl Wheeler / Additional Engineering: Rick Karr / Funding provided by the Chicago Community Trust as part of WBEZ's Chicago Matters series.


Please consider supporting the work of Sound Portraits and StoryCorps by making a donation.

This piece is available in the following audio formats [30:16 min]:



Ghetto Life 101 on CD

Our America, a book based on the documentary

Remorse, a documentary reported by LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman

Blak's Story, a documentary inspired by Ghetto Life 101

Youth Portraits, a series of radio stories by young adults who served time in prison

Photos of the Ida B. Wells Housing Projects in 1942, from the Library of Congress

Photos of the Ida B. Wells Housing Projects in 2003, taken by John Brooks

Updates by Lloyd Newman and LeAlan Jones, the reporters of this documentary [posted 7/19/01]

A study guide, for teachers who want to share Ghetto Life 101 with their class [PDF file, 416 KB]

There Are No Children Here, the book that inspired this documentary

YOU ARE HERE: home > on-air > feature documentaries > GHETTO LIFE 101

email this page | top of page


home  |  ON-AIR |  in-print |  about |  education |  support |  store

Sound Portraits Productions, 80 Hanson Place, 2nd Floor, Brooklyn, NY 11217
Telephone (646) 723-7020 | Fax (646) 723-7026

Copyright © 2016 Sound Portraits Productions. All rights reserved.