CHICAGO (August 24, 2022) – This past summer, WBEZ Chicago asked people in Illinois prisons what sounds and songs they miss most from the outside.
With the help of more than a dozen organizations that work inside Illinois state prisons, WBEZ’s Community Engagement Team asked incarcerated people and their families: What is a sound from outside prison walls that you’d like to hear? Is there a song you’d like to hear? And, what’s something you want people on the outside to know about your life on the inside?
With that input, WBEZ journalists got to work. They gathered the sounds of Lake Michigan and a White Sox homerun, babies laughing and a Great America rollercoaster – even the audio from rain drumming on a metal roof in Puerto Rico.
Now, after collecting nearly 70 submissions from people in prison and their family and friends, WBEZ has created an ambitious two-hour special called Prisoncast, hosted by Ayana Contreras, Vocalo’s content director and host of Reclaimed Soul. Prisoncast will air on Sunday, August 28 from 2 to 4 p.m. Central time on WBEZ and on Illinois Public Radio stations across the state. Listeners can find their local public radio station by visiting www.npr.org/stations.
During the Prisoncast special, WBEZ will play music requests from people serving time in Illinois prisons and share resources for prison families. The special will also feature recorded audio dedications.
People in Illinois prison have few ways to connect with the outside world – but radio is one of them. That’s why Illinois Public Radio’s statewide network of NPR stations is uniquely situated to produce such a project, so that people in prison and their families can share the same listening experience at the same time - from the inside or the outside - even if they can’t be together physically.
Prisoncast was inspired by WBEZ’s latest season of its investigative podcast, Motive, released earlier this year. On Motive, WBEZ Criminal Justice Reporter and Host Shannon Heffernan investigates the factors that shape conditions inside prisons, from the hidden world of prison towns to the deep-seated issues within prisons that go largely unseen. The podcast is a culmination of years of Heffernan’s investigative reporting on criminal justice for WBEZ to shed light on what’s happening inside our prison system. Motive is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, NPR One, Pocket Casts or wherever listeners get their podcasts.
About WBEZ Chicago
WBEZ, Chicago’s NPR news station, serves the community with fact-based, objective news and information. WBEZ’s award-winning journalists ask tough questions, dig deep for answers and expose truths that spark change and foster understanding. In addition to its local and national news programming, WBEZ Chicago is home to its midday talk program Reset with Sasha-Ann Simons and a growing portfolio of popular podcasts, including the “Making” series of Making Beyoncé, Making Obama and Making Oprah; an investigative podcast series, Motive; Nerdette; and Curious City. WBEZ Chicago has a legacy of innovation as the birthplace of nationally acclaimed programs such as This American Life, and Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! and the ground-breaking podcast, Serial. Listen live at WBEZ 91.5FM, wbez.org or on WBEZ’s mobile app.