- 7 episodes
- 5 reporters
- innovative story-within-a-story format
Although the stories produced by Immigration Uncovered were placed in several large media outlets in the US, Mexico and Central America, we had no way to reach small rural audiences across the region. I created Vidas Cruzadas as a way to repackage some of our material for community radio stations In consultation with several stations, I chose to build the stories into a kind of radionovela, or radio soap opera, a format that has been popular since the 1950s as a way to entertain, as well as spread public service messages and other educational content. Each episode tells a piece of the story of two young brothers travelling from El Salvador to be with their parents in the US. The story is told by their parents, who we recorded over several weeks as they waited for their children. Their voices bracket another episode piece about an aspect of migration that somehow related geographically or thematically to whatever the parents are discussing. For example, when the mother recalls her own harrowing trip clinging to the side of a train, the episode then presents a short piece that witnesses a migrant family falling from the train (uninjured, fortunately). When the parents report that the boys are preparing to cross the US border, we visit a hostel on the border where an aid worker offers foot massages to weary migrants. When the parents wax nostalgic about their family life almost 10 years earlier, we travel to the Yucatan, where a returned migrant becomes teary-eyed about the Chinese family who took him under their wing in San Francisco. This was a mammoth undertaking, requiring the transcribing of almost fifty pages of interviews and the writing of all the episodes. Four of the stories were produced reporters who had never done radio before. I created online teaching material in Spanish, and coached them little by little into turning their field recordings into radio pieces. The episodes were ably edited, narrated and promoted by Eric Lemus in El Salvador. In the end, I don't know how many stations aired the pieces, but I do know they heard on a radio station in Chiapas, who received them weekly on a USB stick bused to them into the mountains, and a station in Honduras hosted by the women who founded the yearly caravan of mothers in search of the migrant children!
Besides distributing on community radio, I also created a podcast with an animated map that allows you to trace the route of the boys, and visualize the locations of the stories. It was produced with jquery and leaflet and uses a very neat trick with svg lines to animate the boys' trail. Vidas Cruzadas map.