The Hospital Always Wins

 Laura_Starecheski_photo_by Bob Torrez.crop-1Have mic, will travel. Producer Laura Starecheski. (Photo by Bob Torrez)

Not too long ago, Laura Starecheski and I were chatting about stories where the producer worked for years in the field. Dave Isay came to mind.  But, Dave “only” spent a week with the young people in Ghetto Life 101 and three months at The Sunshine Hotel. This American Life producers worked in the field for five months on Harper High…. The only producer who came to mind was Tony Schwartz. Tony recorded his niece for much of her early life and produced this time-lapsed audio piece.

And then there’s Laura herself. She spent a decade — ten years! — working on “The Hospital Always Wins.” That’s an inordinate amount of time. She started in 2004 and finished in 2013. Laura laughs when she says “Doing the piece basically spanned my career in radio, so far.”

The documentary follows the story of Issa Ibrahim, an artist and a patient at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center. The twists and turns in Issa’s story are remarkable and so is Laura’s production backstory.

“The Hospital Always Wins” aired on The State of the Re:Union in the fall of 2013. I’ve excerpted a portion of the documentary on this edition of HowSound but you should make sure to listen to the whole story, start to finish. It won’t disappoint. Believe me.

Best, Rob


1 comment to The Hospital Always Wins

  • Powerful program, Laura – I had never before heard someone describe first-hand a psychotic episode. Thanks to you and Rob for this insight into how it was made, and your incredible staying power. We have two in-depth reviews of the documentary on RadioDoc Review, a kind of Metacritic for radio documentaries, at One is by an Australian producer who combines probing investigative journalism with beautiful audio storytelling, and the other by an academic who uses audio storytelling to ‘deepen public understanding, empathy, and critical consciousness about racial injustice’. She raises the interesting question of whether Issa’s being black affected his diagnosis.
    Great to see audio docs getting as much considered analysis as film, eh!
    Best wishes, Siobhan McHugh, Wollongong, Australia.

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