Radio Diaries Turns 20

This month, Radio Diaries is celebrating an incredible milestone: their 20th anniversary. There aren’t many radio shows or podcasts out there who can say the same, and we are proud the show has been with Radiotopia since the very beginning.

The Peabody award-winning series was created by Joe
. It launched in 1996 with the ground-breaking series Teenage Diaries, turning a group of young people from around the country into reporters covering their own lives. Since that time, Radio Diaries has helped pioneer an innovative style of first-person audio documentary that has influenced and inspired many of the story-driven podcasts popular today. Joe and his team have collaborated with teenagers and octogenarians, prisoners and prison guards, bra saleswomen and lighthouse keepers….and along the way helped establish a new form of citizen journalism. Over the years, the show has won every major award in broadcast journalism and produced some of the most memorable documentaries ever heard on public radio.

The show is celebrating its anniversary in a few exciting ways. First, today’s episode is a revisit of their very first diary, Amanda’s Diary, about a 17-year-old living in Queens. Amanda explains that she is gay and Catholic, and having a hard time convincing her parents that this is not “just a phase.” Check out a clip of Amanda’s original diary here.

At this 20th year pinnacle, the show will also release a special episode in a few weeks, which will air first on NPR’s All Things Considered. It is the diary of a young woman in Saudi Arabia named Majd. For two years, Majd has been chronicling her life and yearns to pursue a career in science, while struggling with the pressure to accept an arranged marriage. Her story takes listeners inside a world where the voices and stories have largely been off-limits, revealing how life for millennial Saudi women is remarkably different than their mothers’ generation.

Finally, Radio Diaries is inviting fans to help choose another past diarist to revisit for an early May episode. To submit your “fan favorite”, first listen and choose your favorite episode, then connect with the show on Twitter or Facebook and use the hashtag #RadioDiariesTurns20.

You can listen to other episodes on the Radio Diaries website or in iTunes. Happy 20th to Joe, and producers Sarah Kramer and Nellie Gilles!

Originally published at on April 8, 2016.