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Reporter Lloyd Newman, known for Ghetto Life 101, died this week at age 43

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

Almost 30 years ago on this program, we introduced listeners to two boys from Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST, "GHETTO LIFE 101")

LEALAN JONES, BYLINE: My name's LeAlan Jones, and I'm 13 years old.

LLOYD NEWMAN, BYLINE: This is Lloyd Newman, and I'm 14 years old.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

With tape recorders in hand, those two spent a week talking to their neighbors, friends, family members, teachers, anyone they ran into really documenting their lives in and around the Ida B. Wells housing project in the South Side of Chicago.

CHANG: Along with producer Dave Isay, Lloyd and LeAlan created a radio documentary called "Ghetto Life 101."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST, "GHETTO LIFE 101")

LEALAN: Good morning. Day 1 - walking to school; leaving out the door.

CHANG: The format, which now is everywhere, was perhaps the first ever radio diary-style documentary produced for public radio.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST, "GHETTO LIFE 101")

LEALAN: This is my dog, Ferocious. You know why he got that name if you hear him bark.

(SOUNDBITE OF DOG BARKING)

CHANG: Listeners took notice. NPR was flooded with notes and calls.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST, "GHETTO LIFE 101")

LEALAN: Let me describe Lloyd. Lloyd is short. He weighs about 75 pounds, got a head like a Martian (laughter).

LLOYD: All right. Now let me talk about LeAlan. His belly take up his whole body.

LEALAN: Like your head take up yours.

(LAUGHTER)

KELLY: The Philadelphia Inquirer called "Ghetto Life" a remarkable driveway moment. The New York Times said the two young journalists had, quote, "squeezed magic from the streets of their struggling South Side neighborhood."

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED NPR BROADCAST, "GHETTO LIFE 101")

LLOYD: There go the bus.

LEALAN: Yeah, let's go. Let's go. Let's go. Let's go.

LLOYD: Hold that bus.

KELLY: Lloyd and LeAlan won a string of journalism awards for "Ghetto Life 101." They became the youngest broadcasters ever to win a Peabody Award.

CHANG: Well, I am afraid that we have some sad news. Lloyd Newman died on Wednesday from sickle cell disease after falling into a coma seven months ago. He was 43 years old.

KELLY: After completing the documentary at age 14, Lloyd worked with LeAlan on an investigation of a death in his neighborhood, as well as the book "Our America." In recent years, Lloyd Newman worked at the DeKalb Public Library in Illinois. It was a job he truly loved.

CHANG: Dave Isay, founder of StoryCorps, said that, in many ways, it never would have started without "Ghetto Life 101." He told us that Lloyd was a member of his family.

DAVE ISAY: He was whip smart, street smart, with a huge heart and a shy smile. He lived through more in his first dozen years than most people live in a lifetime.

KELLY: Lloyd Newman, you will always be a part of the public radio family. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.
Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Mary Louise Kelly is a co-host of All Things Considered, NPR's award-winning afternoon newsmagazine.

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