Radio Features

Here are a smattering of my favorite radio features I’ve produced, for outlets including Planet Money, NPR News, Latino USA, Studio 360, PRI’s The World and WNYC News.


Gangs, Murder and Migration in Honduras (Latino USA)

December 19, 2014

From poverty to gangs, this episode of Latino USA takes a deep dive into the root causes of why people leave Honduras to travel through Mexico and to the U.S. Based on reporting I did in Honduras in October 2014, with funding from Round Earth Media.

Listen to the episode on Latino USA.


Hello, I’m Calling From La Mafia (NPR’s Planet Money)

December 12, 2014

Honduras has the highest murder rate in the world. Jobs that seem dull and safe in most countries have become incredibly dangerous professions in Honduras. For example: Driving a bus. On today’s show: what it’s like to live and work in the most dangerous country in the world.

Hear it on Planet Money here. A shorter version of this piece also ran on NPR’s All Things Conisdered.


Guam’s Wounded Warriors (Latino USA)

October 3, 2014

Guam is a non-incorporated territory of the United States, like Puerto Rico. Although its residents can’t vote in federal elections, they can serve in the military — and they do, at rates three times the rate of any state. At least one in eight adult Guamanians is a veteran. But less money is spent on veteran’s health-care in Guam than in any other part of the U.S.

This is an adaptation I produced that was originally reported by America By The Numbers With Maria Hinojosa, the TV show produced by the same organization as Latino USA. Hear the Latino USA version here.


Central American Gangs, Made in L.A. (Latino USA)

September 12, 2014

Interviews with children planning to migrate alone from El Salvador to the U.S. have found that the number one reason young people are fleeing the country is fear of gang violence. Over the last two decades, warring between the Mara Salvatrucha street gang—better known as MS-13—and the 18th Street gang has risen to out-of-control levels of violence not just in El Salvador, but in Honduras and Guatemala as well. Yet the roots of Central America’s gang problem lie far away, in Los Angeles, where both MS-13 and 18th Street were born. The gangs were formed by young, alienated immigrants who struggled to adapt to hostile neighborhoods in L.A. In the ‘90s, the LAPD worked with immigration authorities to deport undocumented gang members, eventually deporting tens of thousands of criminals to Central America.

Hear this piece on Latino USA – part of our hour-long special on child migrants called “How This Happened”


Fania Records: Fifty Years Of Sabor (Latino USA)

August 15, 2014

After years of gathering dust, the legendary salsa music label Fania Records is back and revamped under new owners—a private equity company looking to make a mint on classic Latin music. As Fania turns 50, we ask: what future lies ahead for the label once known as the “Motown of Latin music?”


Hear this story on Latino USA here
– part of our special “Nuestro New York” episode.


Notarios: Immigration Help That Hurts (Latino USA)

June 27, 2014

Immigration paperwork can be really confusing – endless pages of forms, lawyer fees, and legalese. Undocumented immigrants with limited English – and in many cases low education levels – face tougher obstacles when navigating the immigration system. There are a lot of people out there trying to take advantage of all the confusion – and make a quick buck in the process. They are often known as notarios.

Hear this story on Latino USA.


Deena And Jay: Living With Depression (Latino USA)

July 11, 2014

Ever since she was a young girl, Deena realized that something wasn’t right – that she never felt happy or comfortable in her own skin. She suffered from depression. But in the South Texas, Mexican-American family she grew up with, there was a stigma around mental illness that prevented her and her family from seeking treatment. When marital strife led her to decide to seek treatment, she developed a severe reaction to the medication she started taking called Stevens-Johnson syndrome. She survived, but her life would never be the same.

Hear this story on Latino USA.



Fremont, Nebraska: Immigrants Not Welcome (Latino USA)

June 6, 2014

In a lot of ways, Fremont, Nebraska – population 26,167 – could be any mid-sized town, somewhere in America. But Fremont has something no other town in the United States has: Ordinance 5165. It’s a strict anti-immigrant ordinance that punishes landlords for renting to undocumented people, theoretically making it impossible to live in town without papers.

This is my most proud radio story so far. Hear it on Latino USA here.

I went to Nebraska to report for a full episode we called “Heartland,” all about how interior states like Nebraska are adapting to large-scaled Latino immigration. You can here that episode here.


A Latino History Of The U.S. (Latino USA)

May 2, 2014

Take a trip around the country with host Maria Hinojosa to learn about Latino history. Hear about the patriotic celebrations of Laredo, Texas and the first colony in the US—it’s not where you think it is. Also: could Zorro be the first American superhero? A high school class in East LA learns about the Chicano movement. And just where did the term “Hispanic” come from?

This was a full episode I produced, voiced by both Maria and I, with the goal of telling the often untaught Hispanic colonial history of the US in Florida, the Southwest and California.

Hear the episode on Latino USA here.


The Other Border: Puerto Rico’s Seas (Latino USA)

March 23, 2014

There’s no fence to divide it. There are no bridges to cross or checkpoints to be checked at. There’s no desert to lose oneself in. The other border is a 60 mile stretch of ocean between the island of Hispaniola – shared by the Dominican Republic and Haiti – and the US commonwealth of Puerto Rico, known as the Mona Passage. The Mona Passage is the main route for unauthorized immigration to Puerto Rico, mostly from the Dominican Republic. The migrants are brought over by smugglers in small wooden boats called yolas. Each boat can be packed with 100 people or more.

Hear this piece on Latino USA.


The Two Dollar Dance Bars Of Queens (Latino USA)

March 21, 2014

Pretty much everything is for sale along Roosevelt Avenue, a bustling strip in Queens, New York. For the right price, you can get everything from Colombian pastries to forged working papers. And for two dollars, you can even buy a dance.

Listen to this piece on Latino USA.


Israel’s Orthodox Ravers Are On A Holy Mission To Dance (NPR)

March 14, 2014

The Jewish holiday of Purim is this weekend. It’s an occasion marked with hamentaschen pastries and joyful celebrations. Revelers sometimes dress in costumes and dance in the street. And in Israel, it’s well known that nobody parties at Purim quite like the Na Nachs. That’s a whimsical orthodox group. They take having fun very seriously. As Marlon Bishop reports from Tel Aviv, it’s their spiritual duty.

Listen to this piece on NPR

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Michoacán 101: Inside The Civilian Militia Uprising (Latino USA)

January 31, 2014

The crisis that unfolded in the Mexican state of Michoacán was often stranger-than-fiction. In 2013, a rag-tag group of avocado farmers and shopkeepers decided to raise arms against the brutal Knights Templars, a cult-like drug cartel who styles themselves after a medieval military order. In January, these civilian militias stepped up the pressure and began invading and occupying towns where the cartels operate one-at-a-time. Then in January 2014, the Mexican army stepped in and attempted to disarm the militias before things escalated further, but the militias refused to give up their weapons. I spoke with militia leader Estanislao Beltran and journalist Veronica Calderón to help figure out what was going on.

Listen to this piece on Latino USA.


A Different Kind Of Catholicism Grows In Latino Communities (NPR Codeswitch)

January 23, 2014

When many think of worship at a Roman Catholic Church, they think about St. Patrick’s Cathedral, incense, candles, rituals, alcoves. That is, unless you’re part of the Charismatic Catholic movement, which emphasizes a highly expressive and individual relationship with God. A new survey finds Latinos participate in the Charismatic movement in particularly high numbers.

Written and reported by Marlon Bishop, voiced by Maria Hinojosa

Here this piece on NPR Codeswitch.

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Dios Inc: Prosperity Gospel in Latino Communities (Latino USA/WNYC)

January 10, 2014

With 6000 branches throughout the world, a Brazil-based megachurch known as the Iglesia Universal is the largest Pentecostal congregation in the world, and it’s a growing force in Latino communities in the US. The church has become controversial for the way it preaches the so-called “prosperity gospel,” encouraging members to donate large sums of money in return for God-given gifts of health and wealth. Marlon Bishop has our investigative report and talks with Maria Hinojosa about La Iglesia Universal.

Fun fact: Cages were rattled – La Iglesia Universal threatened to sue both Latino USA and WNYC over this story.

Check out “Dios Inc” on Latino USA. And here is the shorter version that aired on WNYC: “At Latino Church, Faith As An Investment Strategy


Puerto Rico’s Eco-Farmers Go Back To The Land (Latino USA)

December 27, 2013

In Puerto Rico, the word jíbaro brings to mind a classic image: a rural peasant working his land, wearing a straw hat and overalls. Machete in one hand, plantains in the other. But it also become a derogatory term, signifying backwardness. You hear it all the time – “Don’t be a jíbaro, don’t be stupid.”

However, a new generation of eco-farmers in Puerto Rico are working to bring pride back to the jíbaro lifestyle. Young people all over Puerto Rico are heading back to the land and starting organic farms up in the mountains, growing everything from coffee to kale. The island has fertile soils and a year-round growing season, yet Over 85% of Puerto Rico’s food is imported. This new generation of hipster jíbaros are working the change that, by promoting organic agriculture and starting alternative businesses serving healthy good. At the same time, they’re trying to figure out how sustainable farming can provide solutions to tough problems facing Puerto Rico today, from obesity to food security.

Listen to “Puerto Rico’s Eco-Farmers” on Latino USA


Meet Latin America’s Teenage Korean Pop Fanatics (NPR)

December 15, 2013

If you want to get a sense of what Mexican teenagers are up to these days, here’s an unexpected place to start: A Korean bakery in downtown Mexico City.

Listen to “Latin America’s Teenage Korean Pop Fanatics” on NPR

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Under Water: Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis (Latino USA)

December 13, 2013

Recently, media reports have been calling Puerto Rico the “Greece of the Caribbean” – and not because of its mild weather and sandy beaches. It’s because Puerto Rico is at risk of going broke. The official unemployment rate is almost 15 percent,  more than twice what it is on the mainland. The poverty rate is almost 45 percent. And now, there’s fear that Puerto Rico might default on its debt. Marlon Bishop reports on how the island is coping.

Listen to “Puerto Rico’s Debt Crisis” on Latino USA


The Real Spelunkers Of Puerto Rico (Latino USA)

November 27, 2013

Forget the beaches ­– some of Puerto Rico’s most stunning natural environments are actually located under your feet. Our producer Marlon Bishop visits one of the island’s 2000 caves with a team of hardened local spelunkers on a journey in search of indigenous cave art. After a long journey hacking through the jungle with machetes, they arrive at a rarely-visited cave where Taino shaman may have once performed the sacred cohoba ritual.

Listen to “Spelunkers” on Latino USA


Elizabeth Cleaners Street School (Destination DIY)

August 1, 2013

This was probably the most personal story I’ve ever produced – it’s about the DIY, high school my parents attended in the 1970s. They both dropped out of junior high, and joined this crazy alternative school called the Elizabeth Cleaners Street School that was squatting in an abandoned laundromat on the then-troubled Upper West Side of Manhattan. The kid’s were in charge of every aspect of their education, from hiring their teachers to designing their curriculum. As you can imagine, things didn’t always run smoothly.

Listen to “Elizabeth Cleaners” on Destination DIY

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Newark Forró (Latino USA)

July 5, 2013

For the latest dispatch in our series on Latino accordion music, we tune our ears to Brazilian forró, a high-energy dance sound from the country’s tropical Northeast came to fame in the 1940s. Reporter Marlon Bishop brings us this accordion story from the vibrant Brazilian community of Newark, New Jersey.

Listen to “Newark Foró” on Latino USA

 


Colombian Gypsy Swing from Monsieur Periné (PRI’s The World)

June 19, 2013

In a couple of weeks, the German city of Hildesheim, holds it’s annual Django Reindardt festival. One of the more unusual acts taking the stage will be Monsiuer Periné. It’s a group of young musicians from Colombia. As Marlon Bishop reports, they’re something of a sensation back home.

Listen to “Monsiuer Periné on PRI’s The World

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An Orchestra Of Guns (Studio 360)

March 15, 2013

The rate of Americans murdered by guns is about 20 times that of the rest of the rich world. But just across our Southern border, it’s even more nightmarish. Mexico’s rate for the last few years has been three times ours. One Mexican artist is trying to take guns one by one out of commission. We sent Marlon bishop to Mexico City to find out how and why.

This piece was reported with funding from the Round Earth Media Mexico Porject, which sent me to Mexico in December 2012 and teamed me up with local reporters to work on several stories for US radio outlets.

Listen to “An Orchestra of Guns” on Studio 360

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High-Tech Manufacturing Driving Economy in Mexico (PRI’s The World)

February 6, 2013

One focus of our relationship with Mexico is trade. A lot of it involves manufactured goods and over the decades Mexican manufacturing has been undergoing a transformation, from an emphasis on quick and cheap, to high-tech. Reporter Marlon Bishop has more.

This piece was reported with funding from the Round Earth Media Mexico Porject, which sent me to Mexico in December 2012 and teamed me up with local reporters to work on several stories for US radio outlets.

Listen to “High-Tech Manufacturing…” on PRI’s The World

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Sierra Leone Thumb Piano Player, Sorie Kondi, Finds American Audience Online (PRI’s The World)

January 2, 2013

Street musicians  perform in cities all over the world. Most play music for a living, but few have the opportunity to reach audiences beyond their street corner. Marlon Bishop reports on a street musician from Sierra Leone, who is cultivating an American audience, with a little help from the internet.

Listen to “Sorie Kondi” on PRI’s The World

 

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Squeeze Play: Perico Ripiao (Latino USA)

December 7, 2012

Accordions are everywhere in Latin America, and also in Latino communities across the US. We’re mapping out these pockets of squeeze box enthusiasts around the country in a new series called “Squeeze Play.” In this first story, we visit New York City’s Dominican community, where a traditional, high-energy style of merengue is having something of a resurgence. Marlon Bishop has the story.

Listen to “Squeeze Play” on Latino USA

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Meet The Mamboniks (Latino USA)

November 2, 2012
Back in the 1950s, when the mambo was the rage, some of its biggest fans were Jewish. Reporter Marlon Bishop brings us this story of a community still keeping the beat after all these years.

Listen to “Meet the Mamboniks on Latino USA”

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From Sierra Leone to Brooklyn: Janka Nabay (Studio 360)

August 17, 2012

Janka Nabay calls himself “the Bubu king.” The Sierra Leonean musician took an ancient style of Muslim ritual music and transformed it into pop, using keyboards and drum machines. It’s almost impossible not to dance to its infectious, frenetic beat. The new style made Nabay a national star in his home country.

Listen to “Janka Nabay” on Studio 360

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Aboriginal Art Exhibit Gives Power to Indigenous Australians (PRI’s The World)

July 4, 2012

An exhibit of vibrant artwork from down under ends this week in New York City. The show at Soho’s gallery nine5 is called “Ancient Land, New Territory,” and it features work from 12 aboriginal artists for Australia’s central desert. As Marlon Bishop reports, aboriginal art is a force to be reckoned with on the international art scene.

Listen to “Aboriginal Art” on PRI’s The World

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Hot Chocolate (NPR’s Latino USA)

June 1, 2012

One of the defining characteristics of salsa – an Afro-Cuban music – is the prominent use of brass, especially the trumpets. Of the many great trumpet players who have defined these styles, one man has been there playing his horn at each key musical, that man is Alfredo “Chocolate” Armenteros. Reporter Marlon Bishop caught up with Cuba’s greatest trumpet stylist at a very special occasion.

Listen to “Hot Chocolate” on Latino USA

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Prince Koloni: French Guiana’s Star (PRI’s The World)

March 20, 2012

French Guiana – the French territory in South America – will be in the news later this week. The European Space Agency is due to launch a cargo shipment from the territory with food, water and oxygen to the international space station. Most people would consider French Guiana a remote corner of the world, but there is a lot more happening there than rocket launches. The territory is home to an exciting local music scene, and as Marlon Bishop reports, one young local singer there is stirring things up.

Listen to Prince Koloni on PRI’s The World

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Pacifying Funk Carioca (PRI’s The World)

2/21/2012

It is Carnaval time throughout South America. Brazilians tend to celebrate with elaborate parades and music, usually samba. But a different style of music is making a comeback. It is called “funk carioca,” or simply “funk,” a mixture of hip-hop, samba and electronic music. Ever since its inception, funk has had a rocky relationship with Brazilian authorities. For a period of time in the 1990s, it was outlawed completely because of its risqué lyrics and perceived connection to Rio’s drug mafias. Now, as Rio’s police ramp up their war on the city’s gangs, funk is finding itself in trouble again. Marlon Bishop has more.

Listen to “Funk Carioca” on PRI’s The World

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Steel Drum Orchestras Gear Up for Carnival Competition (WNYC News)

September 2, 2011

Labor Day was created in the late 19th century as a celebration of the American worker, but for Brooklyn’s Caribbean communities it means something else entirely: Carnival . The big event is Monday’s West Indian Parade on Eastern Parkway, with more than 2 million revelers expected to attend. For the borough’s steel drum orchestras, its all about the Panorama competition. Its the biggest steel drum event in the world outside Trinidad. WNYC’s Marlon Bishop reports.

Listen to “Steel Drum Orchestras” on WNYC.org

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Detroit Techno City: Exporting A Sound To The World (NPR News)

May 27, 2011

This memorial day weekend, techno music comes home to Detroit. Techno’s futuristic sound was nutured by African-Americans in Detroit in the 1980s but today, most of its audience is in Europe. Except this weekend, techno fans will swarm to Detroit for the Movement Electronic Music Festival. Wills Glasspiegel reports on Detroit’s lesser known export.

*This piece was voiced by Wills Glasspiegel and co-written by Marlon Bishop and Wills Glasspiegel

Listen to “Detroit Techno City” on NPR

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Cumbia Sonidera Parties in New York City (WNYC News)

May 13, 2011

New York City’s Mexican population is growing. It increased 71 percent over the last 10 years, according to new census numbers. One thing that means is more cumbia sonidera parties around the city. WNYC’s Marlon Bishop explains why these social gatherings are about more than just dancing.

Listen to “Cumbia Sonidera Parties” on WNYC.org

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Behind the Scenes: Public Sculpture in New York City (WNYC News)

March 19, 2011

It was called sexist and it was the focus of press conference by a congressman, but a controversial statue in Queens still hasn’t gone anywhere. As WNYC’s Marlon Bishop reports, when it comes to the politics of public art, strong disagreements are common.

Listen to “Public Sculpture in New York City” on WNYC

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Painting New York’s Skyline (WNYC News)

February 28, 2011

In a city of digital billboards and printed banners, few companies are advertising the old-fashioned way: with paint. Reporter Marlon Bishop spent a day up in the skies with some of the last artists to make their living doing hand-painted murals on New York City buildings.

Listen to “Painting New York’s Skyling on WNYC.org”

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The Silent Barn (Destination DIY)

November 2010

Underground music venues are a mainstay of DIY culture. Since alcohol sales area an economic driver, most clubs have a no minors policy. Kids under 21, and bands that want to play for an all-ages crowd, have been creating their own performance spaces for decades. Marlon Bishop files this report from the Silent Barn, an established DIY space in New York City.

Listen to “The Silent Barn” on DestinationDIY.org

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New Films on the Cheap (Studio 360)

October 29, 2010

Low-budget movies are hot in Hollywood right now and the young filmmakers behind them owe a lot to the Internet. Technology and social media are changing the way films are being made — and it’s a much shorter path from YouTube to the big screen than you might think.

Listen to“New Films on The Cheap” at Studio 360.org

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Congo Princess (World Vision Report)

August 28, 2010

The Congos, an Afro-Panamanian cultural community, have managed to keep their African traditions alive over centuries. Descendants of slaves who escaped the Spanish, many Congos fled to isolated island communities. Now, they’re integrated into Panamanian life, and the traditions of the Congo community are at risk of dissolving into obscurity.

Listen to “Congo Princess” on WorldVisionReport.org

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Cape Verdean Idol (Studio 360)

July 30, 2010

Noah Andrade is a rising star in the Cape Verdean music scene. He’s also 11 years old and lives in Rhode Island. We sent Marlon Bishop to Providence to find out why Andrade is considered the new hope of Cape Verdean culture in America.

Listen to “Cape Verdean Idol” at Studio 360.org


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