The Rockaways’ Flood of Good Will

By Caroline Lewis




When Hurricane Sandy hit the Rockaways, more than just water rushed it. The remote urban peninsula was flooded with volunteers, too. Many of them were from Occupy Sandy and they had more than just physical repairs on their agenda. They wanted to spark local economic development, too. What they came up with was part jobs program, part social movement, and it’s a model that’s gaining a foothold in the city.

From the HorrorFiles Crypt

By Caroline Lewis

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I’ve always wanted to be part of the Midnight Society, that rag tag group of ’90’s kids that met up in the woods every Saturday night to tell each other (true) tales in Are You Afraid of the Dark?

This week, I got close. The Audiofiles team set out to find some good old-fashioned campfire stories, I looked up some creaky door sounds and we all gathered to listen and eat S’mores in the spooky fluorescent lighting of Room 330.

Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story…

“The Ghostly Introduction”



“The Licker”
as told by Gwynne Hogan, AudioFiles Producer



“The Math Teacher’s Fate”
as told by Pat Robinson to AudioFiles Producer Kristen Clark



Seeing Ghosts

Claire gave her dad a picture of them dancing at the Belmont race track as a gift. They hardly knew one another before she moved from St. Louis to live with him in Queens three years ago.

Claire gave her dad a picture of them dancing at the Belmont race track as a gift. They hardly knew one another before she moved from St. Louis to live with him in Queens three years ago.

By Caroline Lewis




These days, Claire, 32, looks like the picture of mental health. She meditates daily, has a stable relationship with her boyfriend, Hector, and keeps a busy – but sober – social calendar. When she gives tours at Fountain House, a community based mental health center in Midtown, she is often mistaken for a social worker, rather than a member.

But Claire had to go beyond just accepting a diagnosis to get to where she is today; she had to reject her entire perception of reality.

To find out how Claire’s coping today and find out about the mental health resources that have contributed to her recovery, visit her blog, MentalHealthMondays.com.

Claire goes in for a kiss with her boyfriend Hector. They met through his roommate, who is also a member of Fountain House. Hector says he fell in love with Claire through her blog because he thought it was brave of her to speak out.

Claire goes in for a kiss with her boyfriend Hector. They met through his roommate, who is also a member of Fountain House. Hector says he fell in love with Claire through her blog because he thought it was brave of her to speak out.

Lithium in the Water




By Audrey McGlinchy

Should we put lithium in the drinking water? In some parts of the country, Mother Nature already has. And some bioethicists say we should follow her lead.

Since the 1940s lithium has been used to treat bipolar disorder and severe depression. Doses used to treat mental illness are much, much greater than those found in natural springs and also pose potentially dangerous side effects, including thyroid problems and significant weight gain.

But a little bit of lithium? It could make us all a touch perkier. According to a recent review of research looking at lithium found in drinking water, 9 out of 11 studies conducted in the past three decades found that residents drinking from a water source laced with lithium had lower suicide and violent crime rates than neighboring towns.

Reporter Audrey McGlinchy travels north of New York City to a town that boasts a natural lithium spring. The pipes that carried the lithium water in Cherry Valley, NY are defunct now, but they raise the question: is a small town in upstate New York sitting on a public health gold mine?

Additional reporting by Colin Archdeacon
Timeline by Caroline Lewis

PopUp Archive

By Caroline Lewis




PopUp Archive is a startup that uses speech recognition technology to automatically transcribe and tag audio recordings. Click on a word in the transcript and you can instantly jump to that part of the recording. Co-founder Anne Wootton is contagiously excited about the potential of the technology, but if you’ve never thought about it before, it takes a minute to think of what you could do with it.

Start by searching the term “boycott” on PopUp Archive. You’ll find a wide swath of entertaining of historical artifacts – recordings covering everything from the Montgomery bus boycotts to the Google bus boycotts.

One of the first that comes up is a 2004 radio piece on “the end of books as we know them” (“The cause? Technology!”), wherein someone opines that if Amazon wasn’t so darn convenient, “I would so boycott them.”

Then there’s a 1960 recording that brings down to earth the now legendary sit-ins to end racial segregation in America. A reverend speaking at the University of Illinois begins with a candid acknowledgement that students are only human: after a couple of successful sit-ins, they became distracted by parties and graduation plans and had to put their activism on hold. If you’ve ever tried to keep up the momentum of a social movement, student or otherwise, it’s the kind of thing you’ll definitely be able to relate to. But it’s probably not the kind of commentary you’ll find in history books.

Not all searches on PopUp Archive turn up plentiful results, and the site, still in beta, is somewhat clunky to use if you’re looking for something specific. Right now, it’s a serendipitous lost-and-found for sound.

PopUp Archive’s best work is happening behind the scenes.

Sure, the website has some interesting segments of Crosscurrents from the KALW, one of the NPR affiliates in San Francisco, but that’s only because PopUp Archive is helping that station build an internal archive that lets them instantly log tape and easily pull up relevant segments and interviews from past shows.

PopUp Archive has also become home to an enviable collection of classic Studs Terkel interviews, featuring hundreds of the radio legend’s conversations with people like boxer Muhammad Ali and author Maya Angelou. But that’s because the team is partnering with Chicago radio station WFMT and the Chicago History Museum to create “the first ever comprehensive, interactive Studs Terkel Radio Archive.”

Anne Wootton, the co-founder of PopUp Archive, describes speech recognition technology as the bridge we need between text-based search engines and the vast amount of audio and video content we’re creating. In other words, automatically transcribing everything is a way for us to easily search and find all the knowledge and culture contained within those recordings. That’s still more of a vision than a reality, but she’s not the only one trying it out. On Youtube, some videos already have the interactive transcripts PopUp Archive uses, which allow viewers to jump around in the video by clicking different words in the transcript.

Wootton’s vision is not far off.