CHICAGO (September 6, 2023) – WBEZ Chicago, Vocalo and Illinois Public Radio are bringing back an innovative audio and engaged journalism project for its second year – Prisoncast! – a special radio event made with and for people inside Illinois prisons and their loved ones on the outside.
Hosted by Vocalo’s Ayana Contreras, Prisoncast! will air on Sunday, Sept. 17 from 2 to 4 p.m. Central time on WBEZ, as well as on Illinois Public Radio stations across the state. Listeners can hear Prisoncast! on WBEZ 91.5FM, livestream it at wbez.org, or find their local Illinois Public Radio station by visiting www.npr.org/stations.
“Our goal is to use the radio to create an experience families can share together even when separated by miles of road, walls and razor wire,” said Alex Keefe, WBEZ’s engagement editor leading the Prisoncast! project. “We broadcast music requests, dedications from family members, interviews on topics relevant to people in Illinois prisons, resources to prison families. We also air sounds from the world outside prison walls that people inside requested, like the sound of a family barbecue, babies laughing, raindrops and more.”
Keefe noted that people in Illinois prisons have few ways to connect with the outside world, and hopes Prisoncast! will help to foster connection between the 30,000 people in Illinois prisons and other residents throughout the state. This year’s broadcast builds on the project’s 2022 debut, in which WBEZ collected nearly 70 requests from people across Illinois. After the broadcast, WBEZ will post an excerpted version of Prisoncast! at wbez.org/prisoncast.
In addition to the Prisoncast! broadcast on Sept. 17, WBEZ is planning two additional special moments this year:
Saturday, Sept. 9 (12 - 3:30 p.m. Central time): “Outside Together” is a free family fun day for children and families of people currently or formerly incarcerated in Illinois, hosted at the Gary Comer Youth Center located at 7200 S. Ingleside Ave. in Chicago. The in-person event will feature a live DJ, an audio dedication recording booth, free professional family portrait sessions from WBEZ and Chicago Sun-Times photojournalists, and representatives from partner organizations that serve people and families impacted by incarceration in Illinois. Attendees can also win drawings for family tickets to concerts and sports events, kids’ bikes and an adult e-bike and more.
Sunday, Dec. 17: Prisoncast! holiday special on WBEZ featuring parents in prison reading stories to their children, in partnership with Companions Journeying Together and Lutheran Social Services of Illinois. Broadcast time will be released closer to the special.
For more information or to attend the family event, email firstname.lastname@example.org
About WBEZ Chicago
WBEZ is home to local and national news programming as well as a growing portfolio of popular podcasts. WBEZ serves the community with fact-based, objective news and information, and its award-winning journalists ask tough questions, dig deep for answers and expose truths that spark change and foster understanding. WBEZ is supported by nearly 86,000 members, hundreds of corporate sponsors and major donors. In 2022, WBEZ received more than 20 awards for its journalism, including two prestigious National Edward R. Murrow Awards.