Update 10/28: Don’t miss tonight’s airing at 8pm on 88.1 WYPR. Check out the updated video clip below.
What if you could zoom in so closely on Baltimore that you could hear every person’s story? Well, you’d probably need a pretty good system to make sure you got everyone. You’d need to start with small, manageable chunks and slowly work your way through the city. There are a lot of stories here. And that means a whole lot of listening. Luckily, one of Baltimore’s best listeners is behind the cutting edge project that aims to capture and share every Baltimorean’s story. WYPR’s own Aaron Henkin produces Out of the Blocks— a totally unique documentary series that is telling everybody’s story– one block at a time.
Along with Baker Award-winning electronic musician Wendel Patrick, Henkin weaves residents’ stories into a richly compelling hour of radio that gives listeners a window into the daily lives of their fellow Baltimoreans. It’s a simple concept– collecting and assembling stories block by block. And it’s one that is absolutely working for Henkin.
“We’ve been inspired to get back out onto the blocks after the Freddie Gray uprisings and to document everyday life as it is now on the city’s corners and stoops,” says Henkin. “I think listeners are yearning to hear people in their own words, without filters and without commentary – just raw, honest stories.” Clearly, he’s onto something. Previous episodes of Out of the Blocks have aired nationally on NPR’s Hearing Voices, and internationally on the BBC and CBC. And while it’s all about the personal stories that Henkin and Patrick manage to capture– there’s also something greater at work here.
As Baltimore Magazine put it earlier this year: “It would be shortchanging Patrick’s soundtrack and Henkin’s wide-ranging interviews to merely say they bring the struggling, post-industrial neighborhood to life, because they do more than that. They make you realize how much we lose when we forget about the richness of radio and the sound of the human voice in the age of texts, tweets, and e-mails.” Over the next year, WYPR will produce five more episodes– each focusing on a different block. This week’s episode will feature the 4700 block of Liberty Heights Avenue in the Howard Park neighborhood– and all of the stories that live there.
The premiere episode of the new season of Out of the Blocks airs on Tuesday, October 27 at 1:00 PM and Wednesday, October 28 at 8:00 PM on WYPR. You can catch each episode of Out of The Blocks by subscribing to the feed. Streaming and podcasting are available at www.wypr.org/outoftheblocks.
Out of the Blocks is made possible with grant funding from the William G Baker Jr. Memorial Fund and the Cohen Opportunity Fund.
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