Sunday December 31, 2017

Memorable radio documentaries

A wise person once said that radio is the most visual medium.  

Unlike television, radio allows the imagination of the listener to animate any story. It allows each person to conjure up a face, a place or an event in their mind's eye.

Arguably, the most compelling medium for storytelling is the radio documentary. Documentaries — with a mix of voices, sounds and music — have always been a key part of The Sunday Edition's weekly menu, and we have been blessed over the years with a talented roster of documentary producers, many of whom have won prestigious awards for their work.

We look for stories that elevate the voices of ordinary people, illuminate complex societal problems, and speak to the human condition in all its absurdity and glory.

For our 1000th edition, we have assembled excerpts from memorable and award-winning documentaries that have aired on The Sunday Edition over the years.

Here is a roster of what you'll hear:

  • "The Gristle in the Stew", by David Gutnick: Two women tell the story of the abuse, humiliation and isolation they experienced as children at the Huronia Regional Centre in Ontario.
  • "All the Way Home", by Alisa Siegel: The first gay couple to legally co-adopt a child in Canada describe their long battle and how they were surprised to find themselves with two children.
  • "Watch My Stick — PLEASE!", by Alisa Siegel: After decades of neglect, the members of a band pick up their beloved old instruments and create musical magic.
  • "The Goal Keepers of Sierra Leone", by Karin Wells: Two years after a brutal civil war, a rebel force in Sierra Leone terrorized men, women and children, and cut off their limbs. We meet the country's one-legged football team.
  • "In the Pink", by Heather Barrett: An in-depth investigation of the strange and enduring popularity of the much-loved processed meat of Newfoundland and Labrador: bologna.
  • "Figures in Flight", by David Gutnick: The story of an unusual modern dance class in a New York prison.
  • "Will the Banana Split?" by the late Bob Carty: An investigation into the disappearance of what has been the most successful fruit in the world.
  • "Class Struggle" by Ira Basen: An army of part-time teachers, with no job security or pension, prop up Canada's post-secondary schools.
  • "Hana's Suitcase", by Karen Levine: A half-century after her death in a concentration camp, the suitcase belonging to a 13-year-old girl unites the girl's brother with a teacher in Japan.
  • "The Divine Mr. Blake", by Frank Faulk: A celebration of the great British poet, artist and visionary. 

Note: Our documentary editor is Karen Levine. To hear excerpts from these documentaries, listen to hours 2 and 3 of this week's program.