Established as a not-for-profit 501(c)3 corporation in 1994 by MacArthur Fellow David Isay, Sound Portraits Productions is an independent production company dedicated to telling stories that bring neglected American voices to a national audience. Whether on the radio, in print, or on the Web, Sound Portraits is committed to producing innovative works of lasting educational, cultural, and artistic value.
Sound Portraits’s radio documentaries (broadcast on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered and Weekend Edition) are audio profiles of men and women surviving in the margins. Told with care and dignity, the work depicts the lives of Americans living in communities often neglected or misunderstood. Sound Portraits frequently collaborates with people living in these hard-to-access corners of America, giving them tape recorders and microphones and helping them tell their own stories.
Sound Portraits is known not just for its cutting-edge radio documentaries but also for its innovative approaches to disseminating ideas, sparking discussion, and broadening the national debate on such issues as poverty, juvenile justice, prison, and race. After broadcast, their documentaries live on through extensive education outreach in classrooms across the country. In 1997, Sound Portraits was awarded funding from the MacArthur Foundation to bring the documentary Ghetto Life 101 into thousands of classrooms in collaboration with the national education outreach organization Facing History and Ourselves. This was just the beginning of an effort to make Sound Portraits work available as a learning tool, a mission that has grown with the company.
Sallie Ellen Ionesco. Virginia, May 2004. Photo by Harvey Wang.
“My Lobotomy” contains the first-ever interview with Sallie Ellen Ionesco, the first patient to receive a transorbital lobotomy.
Listen: http://soundportraits.org/media/my_lobotomy.ram (Real Player Audio)