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STRANGERS

From Lea Thau, Peabody award-winning producer and former Director of The Moth, comes the storytelling podcast Strangers — part of KCRW’s Independent Producer Project and of PRX’s Radiotopia collective. Strangers is hosted by Lea Thau, and produced by Lea Thau, Laura Fetherstonhaugh and Paul Dreux Smith.

Strangers LogoEach episode is an empathy shot in your arm, featuring true stories about about the people we meet, the connections we make, the heartbreaks we suffer, the kindnesses we encounter, and those frightful moments when we discover that WE aren’t even who we thought we were. Subscribe in iTunes join us on Facebook or SoundCloud. All episodes below.

 


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Latest Episode:

The People Next Door

Three stories about Mexican immigration, showing us that there are two sides to the border fence, but many sides to the story. On this episode, we find some unlikely bedfellows among liberals and conservatives, even immigrants and the border patrol. These stories come to us from the wonderful shows, “State of the Re:Union” and “UnFictional.” Also check out “Reveal” where Laura Starecheski and Al Letson, formerly of “State of the Re:Union,” work now. 

Laura Starecheski of "State of the Re:Union" at the U.S./Mexican border

Laura Starecheski of “State of the Re:Union” at the U.S./Mexican border. —Photo by Bob Torrez

Al Letson, previously the host of "State of the Re:Union," and now the host of "Reveal."

Al Letson, previously the host of “State of the Re:Union,” and now the host of “Reveal.”

Check out the "State of the Re:Union" archives at stateofthereunion.com

Check out the “State of the Re:Union” archives at stateofthereunion.com

Subscribe to the incredible investigative reporting podcast "Reveal," where Al and Laura work now.

Subscribe to the incredible investigative reporting podcast “Reveal,” where Al and Laura work now.

Some of the objects found by Pedro, while working in the desert near the border.

Some of the objects found by Pedro, while working in the desert near the border.

Bob Carlson, host and producer of UnFictional.

Bob Carlson, host and producer of UnFictional.




 

Featured Episodes:

Dumb Shit We Do #1: Fib

Melia Mills was working as a lobby-greeter at a hotel, when one day Dave Chapelle came to stay…This is the first in our April mini-series “Dumb Shit We Do.”

Melia Mills

Melia Mills

Melia Mills on Stage.

Melia Mills on Stage

Melia Mills on T.V.

Melia Mills on T.V.

Melia Mills

Melia Mills




 

Left Right Black White

A stereotypical, Whole-Foods-shopping, NPR-listening liberal finds herself in an alliance of Republicans.

While under attack, "Fortress" sees the blue streaks that indicate a massive outpouring of support from her network of other players. How could she not put differences aside?

While under attack, “Fortress” sees the blue streaks that indicate a massive outpouring of support from her network of other players. How could she not put differences aside?




 

My Father's Bones

 One day when Susan was five, her father came home and nailed her bunk bed shut. That was the beginning of a long strange journey.

Susan Sheu with her father in Chicago in 1970

Susan Sheu with her father in Chicago in 1970

A 1973 Christmas card photo of Susan with her father, mother and baby brother.

A 1973 Christmas card photo of Susan with her father, mother and baby brother.

Susan at Vassar, 1990.

Susan at Vassar, 1990.

Susan and her father having Thanksgiving dinner near Vassar at her cousin's house in Fishkill, New York, 1989

Susan and her father having Thanksgiving dinner near Vassar at her cousin’s house in Fishkill, New York, 1989

Susan with her husband Brian and her aunts and uncles during her trip to Taipei, Taiwan, in December 2000 to attend her father's funeral.

Susan with her husband Brian and her aunts and uncles during her trip to Taipei, Taiwan, in December 2000 to attend her father’s funeral.

Susan’s father’s funeral, his family crypt, in Taipei, Taiwan, December 2000.

Susan’s father’s funeral, his family crypt, in Taipei, Taiwan, December 2000.




 

Jenni, Remembered


In the Strangers community, we’ve lost one of our own: Jenni Rowell, 33, has passed away. In this episode, with the help of her family and friends, we rejoice in her life and everything she gave us, and we mourn what we have lost. We also reveal some happy news that she got to enjoy in the last six months of her life…

Jenni in Spring, 2015

Jenni in Spring, 2015

Jenni with a friend

Jenni as a little girl.

Jenni as a little girl.

Lynn, Troy and Jenni

Lynn, Troy and Jenni

 

Here’s the Spotify playlist created by Jenni’s friend Abie with many of Jenni’s favorite songs, which were suggested by her family and her friends far and wide.

Support Jenni’s family here as they pay for Jenni’s remaining medical bills (note: the fundraiser for Jenni’s memorial that was mentioned on the show was a success and reached its $3,500 goal! Thanks to all who donated and allowed for such a beautiful celebration of life memorial service for Jenni.)

 




 

Cora Leighton: The Gift


A stripper and a tattoo artist have a fateful encounter.

 

Recent Episodes:

Lex

When you start to think your own child might have a propensity for violence, what do you do? 

This episode was produced by Laura Fetherstonhaugh with Paul Dreux Smith and Lea Thau.

Scott and baby Lex

Scott and baby Lex

Scott and baby Lex

Scott and baby Lex

Lex as a child

Lex as a child

Leslie, Scott and their three other children

Leslie, Scott and their three other children

Leslie Ervin

Leslie Ervin




 

The Truth

Ashley's parents' porch swing

Ashley’s parents’ porch swing.

Ashley’s husband, Corey, is accused of the worst thing imaginable. What follows sends the family on an ever darkening journey, swinging between answers, hypotheses, emotions, and, ultimately, the truth.

This story is not appropriate for children.

This story was produced by Laura Fetherstonhaugh with Paul Dreux Smith and Lea Thau.




 

I'm an American

Lea recounts the personal journey that led her to become an American citizen this summer. It starts in Sweden in 1945….

This episode was produced by Lea Thau and Paul Dreux Smith. 

Lea Thau being sworn in as an American citizen

Lea Thau being sworn in as an American citizen

Lea's grandfather at the Danish border at the end of WWII

Lea’s grandfather at the Danish border at the end of WWII

Lea with her dad, who is likely studying some left wing economist

Lea with her dad, who is likely studying some left wing economist

Lea and her mom, back in the '70s

Lea and her mom, back in the ’70s

Lea as a kid (right) with her cousin, getting ready to raise the Danish flag

Lea as a kid (right) with her cousin, getting ready to raise the Danish flag

Protestors at the July 4th, 1976, Rebild Festival in Denmark.

Protestors at the July 4th, 1976, Rebild Festival in Denmark.




 

Me For Mayor?

Have you ever had the fantasy that a chance encounter with a stranger could tell you who to be? Karin Gutman was working as an assistant when a senior advisor to a US Senator came out of the blue with an offer to change her life…

Karin Gutman is the founder of Spirit of Story, a writing and story consulting business devoted to guiding people in discovering and writing their personal, life-based stories. Karin also recently started a Women’s Story Circle which is a monthly writing salon at a private home in Hancock Park.

This story first aired on Strangers in April, 2012.

 

Karin Gutman

Karin Gutman

Karin with Senator Joe Lieberman

Karin with Senator Joe Lieberman

Karin with then-Senator Barack Obama

Karin with then-Senator Barack Obama

The 2004 Democratic National Convention convened from July 26 to 29, 2004 at the FleetCenter (now the TD Garden) in Boston, Massachusetts

The 2004 Democratic National Convention convened from July 26 to 29, 2004, at the FleetCenter (now the TD Garden) in Boston, Massachusetts

John Kerry's acceptance speech

John Kerry’s acceptance speech




 

Blue Astringent Blues


A wanna-be artist finds himself in a dual-life dilemma. Can you be the next Bukowski and the king of high-end skin care — at the same time? When push comes to aftershave, which do you choose? Brian Finkelstein tells this story, which originally aired on the first season of Strangers.

Brian Finkelstein (@bsfinkestein) is an Emmy nominated writer who has performed eight solo shows in a variety of venues, from the HBO/US Comedy Arts Festival in Aspen to the Summer Nights Festival in Perth, Australia and New Zealand. Brian’s told stories on public radio shows including Good Food, The Business, UnFictional, Marketplace and many more. Currently Brian is working on his first book of personal essays and developing a pilot with Universal International and Working Title Films.

Brian Finkelstein

Brian Finkelstein

Brian at Kiehl's, in the white lab coat worn by the staff.

Brian at Kiehl’s, in the white lab coat worn by the staff.

Brian during the Brooklyn years.

Brian during the Brooklyn years.

Brian and friends on roof of the Brooklyn apartment .

Brian and friends on roof of the Brooklyn apartment .




 

Matjames Returns: Scenes from Yellow Springs

Three years after Tyler issued a dare for Matjames to return to Yellow Springs, and 26 years after he fled, Matjames finally makes the trip. For optimal enjoyment of this episode, please listen to the first story about Matjames and Tyler, “Flee, Flood, Float.”

Thanks to Tyler Hurwitz, Matjames Metson, Selanie Johnson-Hurwitz, Eli Hurwitz and Aza Hurwitz. And special thanks to John Gustafson for recording Matjames’s visit.

Follow Tyler on instagram @tylerhurwitz and Matjames @kingmatjames.

This episode was produced by Lea Thau, Laura Fetherstonhaugh and Paul Dreux Smith.

The first photo ever taken of Matjames, Tyler and Selanie together. Yellow Springs, Ohio. August, 2016.

The first photo ever taken of Matjames, Tyler and Selanie together. —Yellow Springs, Ohio. August, 2016.

Tyler and her boyfriend John. You can follow Tyler on instagram @tylerhurwitz

Tyler and her boyfriend John.

Tyler's upholstery work, made with a little bit of help from both Selanie and Matjames during Matjames's visit.

Tyler’s upholstery work, made with a little bit of help from both Selanie and Matjames during Matjames’s visit.

Matjames Metson with his artwork in Los Angeles.

Matjames Metson with his artwork in Los Angeles.

Matjames's artwork. You can follow him on instagram @kingmatjames

Matjames’s artwork.

Selanie and Eli, early in their relationship.

Selanie and Eli, early in their relationship.




 

Matjames and Tyler: Flee, Flood, Float


This is a rebroadcast of a story we did three years ago, and it’s a story we’ve always really liked. We’re sharing it with you this week because we’ll have an update on the story next week. So be sure to check this out and stay tuned for the follow up. 

Tyler as a child

Tyler as a child

Matjames Metson in his studio in Los Angeles

Matjames Metson with his artwork in Los Angeles

Tyler Hurwitz in 2013, when this story first aired

Tyler Hurwitz in 2013, when this story first aired

Matjames & Tyler when they first met

Matjames & Tyler when they first met

Tyler with her mom & stepfather (and baby sister on the way) when she was a kid

Tyler with her mom & stepfather (and baby sister on the way) when she was a kid

Tyler as a baby with her mom

Tyler as a baby with her mom




 

Love Hurts — Two Years Later


Lea revisits her own love life. Two years ago, Lea produced “Love Hurts,” a series about her ill-fated adventures in online dating throughout the 4 years since she’d suddenly found herself single with an infant in her late 30s. The same week that the first “Love Hurts” episode went live, Lea met a man, and a year ago she posted an anniversary update with that man about their first year of dating. But where is Lea now, two years after “Love Hurts”? Tune in to find out. 

Music by Paul Dreux Smith.

Photo by Lea Thau.

Photo by Lea Thau.




 

The Bus & The Duff

Two stories from two stages of love about chance encounters, bold moves, tough luck, predictable fights, unlikely angels, and those unavoidable moments where you simply have to “sh*t or get off the pot.”
 
Nina and Seth on their wedding day in December, 1999.

Nina and Seth on their wedding day in December, 1999.

Seth and Nina — The young couple on holiday in France

Seth and Nina as a young couple, on holiday in France.

The Goldsamts: Seth and Nina with their kids Anna and Mathias on a recent visit to The White House.

The Goldsamts: Seth and Nina with their kids Anna and Mathias on a recent visit to The White House.

 

Margot and her husband Dan.

Margot and her husband Dan.

Margot with her husband Dan and her son Levon.

Margot with her husband Dan and her son Levon.

Margot and her husband Dan.

Margot and her husband Dan.

Check out Margot Leitman's new book, "Long Story Short."

Check out Margot Leitman’s new book, “Long Story Short.”

 




 

Not By Accident


So you’re 37 and single…. On this third installment of our “Summer of Love” series, we explore the singles’ experience with two intimate stories from the lovely podcast “Not by Accident” by Sophie Harper.

Sophie and Astrid

Sophie and Astrid

Sophie and baby Astrid

Sophie and baby Astrid

Baby Astrid with her Granny

Baby Astrid with her Granny

Astrid with her Grandpa

Astrid with her Grandpa

Subscribe to Sophie Harper's podcast, "Not By Accident"

Subscribe to Sophie Harper’s podcast, “Not By Accident”




 

Jo & Fayaz

Fayaz asked Jo to marry him after they’d spent just one week in the same place. Here’s how that worked out. This story is the second installment in our Summer of Love series, but as it unfolds it becomes about more than just love.
 
Jo’s store is shantishanti.de — or find it on Etsy.
 
Fayaz and Jo

Fayaz and Jo

Fayaz, Jo and Moona

Fayaz, Jo and Moona

Lea interviewing Fayaz and Jo

Lea interviewing Fayaz and Jo

Fayaz with Lea's son Oliver

Fayaz with Lea’s son Oliver

Lea's son Oliver with Jo and Fayaz's son Shayann

Lea’s son Oliver with Jo and Fayaz’s son Shayann

Lea in India with her son Oliver

Lea in India with her son Oliver

Cows eating from the dumpster

Cows eating from the dumpster

Buddhist monks in the modern world

Buddhist monks in the modern world

Fayaz with his mother

Fayaz with his mother

Jo, Fayaz and their son

Jo, Fayaz and their son

Fayaz, Jo and their son with Jo's mother

Fayaz, Jo and their son with Jo’s mother




 

As Far As You Can Get


Welcome to our new series, “Summer of Love,” inspired by this quote from a Danish newspaper: “For decades women seem to have been asking themselves the following questions: How do I get a man? How do I hold on to him? How do I put up with him? How do I get rid of him? How do I find a new one?”

Gender aside, are those the stages of love in the modern world? Or what are the stages of love in the modern world? Each episode in this series will look at a different stage in a love relationship. But of course sometimes the most formative relationships are not the ones that turn into forever-after. Sometimes the relationships that make us who we are — that make us grow up and find our path on this earth — are the ones that don’t last. Tamara Lindeman tells this story.

This story was produced by Laura Fetherstonhaugh with Paul Dreux Smith and Lea Thau.

Fair Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. — Photo by Tamara Lindeman.

Fair Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. — Photo by Tamara Lindeman.

Andre, as a child, on Fair Island.

Andre as a child on Fair Island.

Andre in 2004. — Photo by Tamara Lindeman.

Andre in 2004. — Photo by Tamara Lindeman.

Tamara in 2007, during one of her many visits to Fair Island after Andre's death.

Tamara in 2007, during one of her many visits to Fair Island after Andre’s death.

Tamara Lindeman, now a professional musician.

Tamara Lindeman, now a professional musician.

"The Line" — Tamara's first album, inspired by Andre and by her experiences in Newfoundland.

“The Line” — Tamara’s first album, inspired by Andre and by her experiences in Newfoundland.

Loyalty — The third album by Tamara's band, The Weather Station.

“Loyalty” — The third and most recent album by Tamara’s band, The Weather Station.




 

The Son, The Goddess, and Leopoldo


Born in a coven of lesbian witches in a Haight-Ashbury commune after the fall of Saigon, young Joshua Safran soon hit the open road with his single mother, Claudia, and things only got stranger from there. A word of warning: this story contains some disturbing moments.

Joshua Safran is an author, attorney, and nationally recognized advocate for survivors of domestic abuse and the wrongfully imprisoned. His 7-year legal odyssey to free an incarcerated survivor of domestic violence from prison was featured in the award-winning documentary film Crime After CrimeTo learn more about Joshua’s life, pick up a copy of his critically-acclaimed memoir, Free Spirit: Growing Up On the Road and Off the Grid (Hachette) or visit www.jsafran.com.

This episode of Strangers was supported, as always, by Audible, Casper and Squarespace.  This episode was also supported by Talkspace and Her Money.
Talkspace offers unlimited messaging to a dedicated, licensed, therapist for just 25 dollars a week. Get $30 off by visiting talkspace.com/strangers.
Her Money With Jean Chatzky is a podcast created by women, for women, about how to build the financial life you want. Learn more at jeanchatzky.com.

Baby Joshua, bathing in the San Francisco commune sink.

Baby Joshua, bathing in the San Francisco commune sink.

Joshua, heading to a Rainbow Gathering.

Joshua, heading to a Rainbow Gathering.

Joshua playing a fife in the New Mexico Desert.

Joshua playing a fife in the New Mexico desert.

Joshua and his mother, Claudia.

Joshua and his mother, Claudia.

The lean-to Joshua called home at 10 years old.

The lean-to Joshua called home at 10 years old.

Claudia and Leopoldo's Egyptian occult wedding.

Claudia and Leopoldo’s Egyptian occult wedding.

Joshua and Claudia, finally free from Leopoldo.

Joshua and Claudia, finally free from Leopoldo.

Joshua, 16 years old.

Joshua, 16 years old.

Joshua with Debbie in prison.

Joshua with Debbie in prison.

Joshua with his daughter and Debbie, after Debbie's release from prison.

Joshua with his daughter and Debbie, after Debbie’s release from prison.

Joshua Safran's memoir, Free Spirit.

Joshua Safran’s memoir, Free Spirit. Available on amazon.

Crime After Crime, a documentary film about Joshua Safran and Debbie Peagler.

Crime After Crime, a documentary film about Joshua Safran and Debbie Peagler.

If you’d like to learn more about Deborah Peagler, you can start here.




 

Outside In


One day when her daughter was 1 month old, Nanna Balslev took the elevator to the top floor of one of the tallest buildings in Copenhagen. Here’s why.

Nanna with her daughter, now 4 years old.

Nanna with her daughter, now 4 years old.




 

Dumb Shit We Do #3: Stow Away

 

Wanna go to Europe? Got no cash? Why not stow away? Well….

 

The SS United States. -Photo by Lowlova

The SS United States. -Photo by Lowlova




 

Dumb Shit We Do #2: Rob Banks

We feature the story of Joe Loya’s bank robbing career by producer Ben Adair of the podcast “First Time Last Time,” along with a follow-up conversation between Lea and Joe about the dumbest shit he’s pulled as a bank robber. Check out the “First Time Last Time” podcast, which has the simple but wonderful premise that people tell stories about the first time and last time they did something. You can find it at firstlasttime.com.

 

 

Joe, caught on a bank's security camera

Joe, caught on a bank’s security camera

Joe, before he robbed banks!

Joe, before he robbed banks!

Joe's prison ID

Joe’s prison ID

Joe now, as a free man

Joe now, as a free man

Joe, the writer. Photo by Lily Dong.

Joe, the writer. Photo by Lily Dong.

First Time Last Time

First Time Last Time

Check out the podcast “First Time Last Time” at firstlasttime.com!




 

Worth Saving


Annie Bradley was raised to believe that women shouldn’t have opinions or make decisions. But what happens when her life depends on a radical split-second decision?

This story was produced by Laura Fetherstonhaugh with Paul Dreux Smith and Lea Thau.

Annie, as a teenager in France in the '70s.

Annie, as a teenager in France in the ’70s.

Annie as a little girl.

Annie as a little girl.

Annie and her brother in their rural Canadian hometown.

Annie and her brother in their rural Canadian hometown.

Annie traveling through Chile.

Annie traveling through Chile.

Annie, the award-winning director.

Annie, the award-winning director.




 

Elizabeth and Mary: The Aftermath

Do altruists make us uncomfortable? Hell freakin’ yeah. Or so it seems. The most generous person we’ve ever profiled became the center of a social media storm. Lea called up some of the harshest critics to find out, eh, WHY?

Elizabeth, the kidney donor.

Elizabeth, the kidney donor.

Elizabeth and Mary.

Elizabeth and Mary.

 
 



 

Elizabeth and Mary, Part 3

So did this transplant happen? Is Lea going to give away a kidney? Are you? Tune into this third instalment of Elizabeth and Mary to find out.

Elizabeth and Mary at the hospital on the day of the operation.

Elizabeth and Mary at the hospital on the day of the operation.

Lea Thau prepares to watch Elizabeth and Mary's surgeries.

Lea Thau prepares to watch Elizabeth and Mary’s surgeries.

Elizabeth at the hospital, waiting to have her kidney removed to be transplanted into Mary.

Elizabeth at the hospital, waiting to have her kidney removed to be transplanted into Mary.




 

Elizabeth and Mary, Part 2


This is the second installment in our series about Elizabeth and Mary. On this episode, we play some of the strong reactions we received from listeners to the first installment, and dive deeper into why Elizabeth decided to give a kidney to a stranger, and who she really is…

Elizabeth and Troy after running their first marathon.

Elizabeth and Troy after running their first marathon.

Elizabeth and Troy on a motorcycle trip.

Elizabeth and Troy on a motorcycle trip.

Mary and Acey

Mary and Acey




 

Elizabeth and Mary, Part 1


Would you give a kidney to a stranger? Inspired by a previous episode of Strangers, Elizabeth decided to do just that. This is Part 1 of the story that ensued.

Produced by Lea Thau and Paul Dreux Smith.
 
 
Elizabeth, ever the adventurer, smiles for the camera while rappelling.

Elizabeth, ever the adventurer, smiles for the camera while rappelling.

Elizabeth and her fiancee Troy enjoying a rare drink.

Elizabeth and her fiancee Troy enjoying a rare drink.

 

Mary and Acie on vacation, before Mary was forced to start dialysis.

Mary and Acie on vacation, before Mary was forced to start dialysis.

 

Mary, young at heart!

Mary, young at heart!




 

The Waxing Virgin — Then and Now

Four years ago, we met Becca, a virgin in her 30s who waxed genitals for a living. On this episode we play her original story, along with an update about what Becca has been up to since then…




 

A Special Broadcast From Strangers


Henry and Jane
Henry Evans was a healthy 40 year­-old father of four when he suffered a stem-­brain stroke, caused by an unknown congenital defect, and woke up with “locked­-in” syndrome, only able to blink, otherwise completely paralyzed and mute. These days, still mute but able to move his head and one finger, he can communicate and accomplish remarkable things, thanks in part to some creative inventions of his own, and to his wife Jane. Together they demonstrate that a sense of humor may be the last thing to go when much else is lost.

Check out Henry’s Robots for Humanity project.

The Evanses: Henry and Jane with their four children, still laughing even as the family is visiting the oldest son, Stephen, who was injured as a medic in Iraq (no joke, but thankfully he is fully recovered).

The Evanses: Henry and Jane with their four children,
still laughing even as the family is visiting the oldest son,
Stephen, who was injured as a medic in Iraq
(no joke, but thankfully he is fully recovered).

Henry and Jane on their wedding day

Henry and Jane on their wedding day.


One of Henry’s tech collaborations with the company, Fighting Walrus, has resulted in his flying a drone with his head so he can survey the beautiful landscape outside his house.


Wanna see Jane who’s 5’2” transfer Henry who is 6’4” from his bed to his wheelchair?


Henry and Jane use a plexiglass letter-board to communicate, and they’ve gotten so good they can read from the letter-board even when they put down the actual board and do “virtual board.”

 

Falling Slowly
Strangers, at its core, is about the beauty and the struggle of human connection and what happens in those moments when we get closer to someone else, or further removed from ourselves. Often that change is subtle and slow, but sometimes it is sudden and monumental. Here is Lyena Strelkoff. Check out Lyena’s blog.

Dean and Lyena. Photo by Julia Sherburne

Dean and Lyena. -Photo by Julia Sherburne.

Dean and Lyena at their wedding.

Dean and Lyena at their wedding.

Dean and Lyena at their wedding.

Dean and Lyena at their wedding.

Lyena and her son, Aidan.

Lyena and her son, Aidan.

Lyena, Dean and Aidan.

Lyena, Dean and Aidan.

Lyena performs her one-woman show, Caterpillar Soup, which was supposed to run for three weeks and was extended to six months. Photo by Ed Krieger.

Lyena performs her one-woman show, Caterpillar Soup, which was supposed to run for three weeks and was extended to six months.  – Photo by Ed Krieger.

Lyena performs her one-woman show, Caterpillar Soup. Photo by Ed Krieger.

Lyena performs her one-woman show, Caterpillar Soup.  -Photo by Ed Krieger.




 

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Woman


Sometimes you get in a rut as a creative professional, wondering if you’ll ever be a professional, creatively, or if you’ll be forever stuck in some dead-end day job that’s designed to pay the bills but barely does. And then you might fantasize that some big change, or chance encounter, or fabulous coincidence is going to turn it around FOREVAH. Sometimes, though, we should be careful what we wish for…Suzanne Clores tells this story.

And speaking of artists trying to be creative professionals, please support our Radiotopia Fall Campaign to raise money for 2016 and keep this show and 12 other stellar shows in production. It’s ON right now at www.radiotopia.fm. From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

You can find Suzanne Clores at suzanneclores.com, and check out her cool new project, The Extraordinary Project, at theextraordinaryproject.org

Banner image: Suzanne on her graduation day from her Master’s program in Tucson.

Suzanne_NY

Suzanne, the young art girl in all black

Suzanne_beach

Suzanne, the tank-top girl after the big move

Suzanne_Chi

Suzanne, the Chicago mom.

 




 

Sexistential


What exactly does a sex surrogate do? Meet Kendra Holliday to find out.

Kendra Holliday

Kendra Holliday!

To learn more about Kendra and her work, you can also visit her website thebeautifulkind.com.

 

Track List

1. The Sensual Woman by The Herbaliser, album “The Best of Herbal Tonic”
2. Canal by Paul Dreux Smith, written for the episode
3. Ghost Writer by RJD2, album “Deadringer” 2002
4. Curious Cabaret by Larry S. Tuttle, album “Circus Freaks Gothic Shrieks” 2009
5. One Thing by Paul Dreux Smith, written for the episode
6. John Tomes by Tosca, album “Suzuki” 2000
7. Sheherazade by Esquivel, album “Strings Aflame” 1959
8. Loving Moment by Paul Dreux Smith, written for the episode
9. Alienated by Paul Dreux Smith, written for the episode
10. Midnight Feast by Mr. Scruff, album “Keep it Unreal” 1999
11. Breathing by Paul Dreux Smith, written for the episode
12. Petrified Blues by J-Walk, album “A Night on the Rocks” 2002
13. Center of Attraction (Instrumental) by Ghostface Killa/Adrian Younge, album “12 Reasons to Die”
14. Outerlude by Dieselhed, album “Chico and the Flute” 2001




 

Love Hurts - One Year Later


One year ago today, July 31st, Lea went to interview Robert, a guy she’d dated, about why he’d turned her down. That became the first of a series of episodes called “Love Hurts,” where Lea investigated why she was having trouble finding love again in the four years since she found herself pregnant and alone when her fiancé left. In this episode she returns to the genre of highly intimate and personal interviews with a follow-up about her quest for love this past year.

(yup, that’s Lea in the second row on the roller coaster)




 

The Teacher Who Couldn't Read


John Corcoran graduated from high school and college and then spent 17 years as a high school teacher without knowing how to read or write. How on earth did he pull that off? And why? This is his story.

A different version of this story was originally presented on Strangers in early 2012.

All music in this episode by Paul Dreux Smith.




 

American Mormon — International Mr. Leather


A new - and improved! - version of an old Strangers story: A Mormon boy grows up to become "International Mr. Leather," which is the “Miss Universe” equivalent of the leather fetish world, and he’s forced to acknowledge some surprising parallels between his childhood church and the kinky gay, male leather world…

 

Like a Pizza: Two Men and a Baby - the Follow-Up


In 2014 Patrick and Steve received a surprise delivery…and it was a newborn, whaa! A story ensued, which became the episode Two Men and a Baby. Now, a year later we check in to see how things are going.

Photo by Fernando Rodríguez




 

Adrian's Race 2


This is the second installment in our series about Adrian Wagner, who at 25 is losing his eyesight, and who is in a race to try to locate his birth parents in time to qualify for upcoming clinical trials, which might cure his condition but require genetic testing of both parents. And that is just one of several challenges and questions facing Adrian, as he looks to the future and ponders the balance between humility and pride in his attitude towards his disease, while also diving deeper into his past. We recommend listening to this series in order. If you haven’t heard the first installment of Adrian’s Race, you can find it here,  where you can also find more pictures of Adrian.

Thanks to Freya Bennett for submitting her music for the show. We used her track “Nostalgia” on this episode. You can find her at www.freyabennett.com. For a complete music list, visit www.kcrw.com/news-culture/shows/strangers/adrians-race-2




 

Unconditional


This is a story of mothers, love, regrets and redemption, and of secrets from many years passed that cast long shadows in our lives. It’s about how Deborah Jiang-Stein came to be pulled over by two highway patrolmen at 19 years-old, with a trunk load of dope, a .38 revolver and a 10” switch blade…and that’s only the beginning.

Deborah Jiang-Stein is the founder of The unPrison Project, empowering women and girls in prison: www.unprisonproject.org and she is the author of PRISON BABY: A Memoir. Her web site is www.deborahstein.com.




 

The Cruellest Month?

April is the cruellest month. At least it can be. If you are depressed or heartbroken, there is nothing worse than the thaw and the blossoms and the girls in short dresses and the lovers on park benches licking melting ice cream off each other’s faces and fingers. It makes your heart ache more because you remember the times when you felt like that, when spring made your heart sing as your rode your bike through the woods with the wind in your hair to meet friends on the shore, and the sun shone through the leaves in playful patterns. And there was a slight chill in the air down there in the shade of the trees, which might have warned you that age and experience would bring darker times in springs ahead, if you hadn’t been too innocent or just happy to notice. But you don’t understand the true cruelty of April until you are freshly heartbroken or terribly depressed, just like you don’t understand the true beauty of April until you’ve experienced a magical spring, and what’s more magical than being in love?

On this episode we’re honoring spring with a couple of very small stories about the quest for love, and the way it sometimes works out and sometimes does not. The first story, Copenhagen Laundry, was recorded and edited by Danish radio producer Christine Runøe. The second story, Looking for Love in El Paso, features Dave Kessler and first appeared on Strangers in February 2012.




 

Adrian's Race


Adrian is 25 and losing his eyesight. He's in a race against time. He’s also in a battle between humility and pride. When is it stubborn, perhaps even foolhardy, not to make concessions to one’s disability? When is it the only way out? And where do you find wisdom to know the difference?

 

Jenni, Now


We revisit Jenni Rowell from the episode “Life, Interrupted” to see where things stand, and learn some sh*t about life.

 

And Justice for All?


A booker for TV court shows shares highs and lows from the merry-go-round of daytime justice...

 

Love - Good and Bad


For Valentine’s Day we return to the theme of love, with a story about someone else’s heartbreak for a change. As for Lea's heart, well, you’ll see….

 

A Father’s Story - Then and Now


To mark the three-year anniversary of Strangers we share with you the very first story ever featured on the show, about Stephen Rochelle and his son Matthew, and we return to Stephen to see how they're doing now, three years later. In July 2011, Matthew Rochelle stood trial for murder. This is the story of what happened from the point of view of his father. How did his sweet little boy end up in this place? How do you cope when your own child becomes a stranger? Can you make a difference if you do everything in your power to get him back?

 

Love Hurts — The Follow-Up


Lea received hundreds of messages in response to her raw, personal four-part series, "Love Hurts." In this follow-up episode, she strings together the funny, poignant and moving voice mails she received from listeners in response to the series and tries to make sense of this thing called love, finally. She also gives an update on her most recent dating adventure…

 

The Mind Shaft


Greg O'Brien was in his late 50s when strange things started happening…

 

Alaska Bingo


Sam Feirstein takes a broken heart to Alaska and finds surprising kindness in “enemy territory.” Also, producer Lea Thau takes a broken heart to India and has a “stranger” experience that inspires her to create this show.




 

Screaming with Professionals


For Halloween, we give you a ghost story of sorts. Not in the traditional sense, but we think you’ll know what we mean when you hear it. As a little boy, Bill Ratner experienced a series of tragedies. Then he learned to scream….




 

Falling Slowly


Strangers, at its core, is about the beauty and the struggle of human connection and what happens in those moments when we get closer to someone else, or, say, further removed from ourselves. Often that change is subtle and slow, but sometimes it is sudden and monumental. Here is Lyena Strelkoff. Check out Lyena’s blog.

A version of this story was previously featured on Season 1 of Strangers.




 

Big Jim and Smokey Joe


A waitress, a former bomber pilot and a retired railroad engineer embark on the adventure of a lifetime. Story told by Jennefer Ludwigsen.

A version of this story was previously featured on Season 1 of Strangers.




 

Love Hurts 4


In this final installment of Love Hurts, Lea talks to a guy SHE turned down.

 

Love Hurts 3


In this third installment of Love Hurts, Lea seeks dating advice from two experts and lets it all hang out. Love Hurts is a series in which Lea investigates why she is single. We recommend listening to the episodes in order.

 

Love Hurts 2


Lea Thau tells more stories from her love life and interviews yet another guy who turned her down.

 

Love Hurts


While doing a story about online dating, Lea gets her heart broken (yet again).

 

Kenna Fisher: Renaissance Woman


Kenna, formerly known as Ken, came out 5 years ago. This is her story.

 

Two Men and a Baby


Two young men receive a surprise delivery. And it's a newborn. Whaaa!

 

The Long Shadow


Murder, music, mystery. A controversial event in 1997 changed the fate of two band mates.

 

Jenni Rowell: Life, Interrupted


Jenni Rowell had surgery last year that altered her appearance forever. She wrote to us and said " I have a story about seeing a stranger every time I look in the mirror." As we worked on her story, things took a turn for the worse...

 

Liz Fletcher: Little Orphan Edie, a Valentine's Story


A tale of true love spanning four decades, two countries, and classic racial divides...

 

Born Rich (or Poor): Moby, Jamie Johnson & others


Just how fabulous is it to be fabulously rich? 4 stories of wealth--inherited and earned.

 

Anniversary Episode: Strangers Revisited


An online dater finds love after 16 years, and an exonerated prisoner goes to see the former District Attorney.

 

Alfredo Corchado: Midnight in Mexico


An immigrant boy receives an offer he can't refuse.

 

Andrew and Akina Cox: Meet the Moonies


A hip young artist couple find themselves in an arranged marriage.

 

Andrea Askowitz: Be My Baby


A woman finds her way to the all-american, suburban, lesbian life.

 

Matjames and Tyler: Flee, Flood, Float


A story about the places we go and the people we find. (Sorry we don't want to give it away, just listen, please.)

 

Henry and Jane


A 40-year-old stroke victim demonstrates that a sense of humor can be the last thing to go.

 

Altruism


Does true altruism exist? Here are three stories that say yea, nay, and just maybe...

 

Gay Talese: Committed Voyeur


Legendary non-fiction writer, Gay Talese, discusses his marriage, his work, and the scandals that have made waves in both.

 

Franky Carrillo: Life


A man spends 20 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit, but comes out ahead...

 

Alec Ledd, Moby: A.K.A.


Moby shares moments with strangers, Alec Ledd goes Jewish for Barbara Streisand.

 

Lauren Whaley, Jake de Grazia, VS. Dobbs: Love


Three stories of heart break and true love.

 

David Terry: Jesus


The son of missionaries is taken to Greece at age 5 and returns to the U.S. in the 8th grade with a mullet and a Jesus shirt. And that's just the beginning...

 

Terry's Treasure


Producer Lea Thau embarks on a strange online dating adventure.

 

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