371 Productions

Precious Lives Creator / Producer

Brad Lichtenstein - Executive Producer

Brad is the president of 371 Productions, a company that makes media for the common good. He has been making documentaries for PBS, Al Jazeera America, Discovery Channel, the BBC and other broadcasters for over 20 years. His PBS Independent Lens feature documentary, As Goes Janesville, was nominated for a national Emmy. 371 builds impact campaigns for its projects, from ongoing workshops about aging with Almost Home, to mobile apps like BizVizz, a corporate accountability tool that grew from As Goes Janesville. Brad is a huge fan of radio. Precious Lives is his first adventure in that realm.

Emily Forman - Senior Producer

Emily comes to Milwaukee from KCAW in Sitka, Alaska where she reported on a range of stories, including Native American fishing traditions, scientific discoveries about ice age goats and the unlikely path of Alaska’s newest Orthodox bishop. Her work has also aired on NPR and Alaska Public Radio Network. Emily is a graduate of the prestigious Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in Portland, Maine.

Eric Von - Host/Producer

For twenty five years, through three successful stints in both morning and evening drive, Eric Von was behind the microphone as host of one of Milwaukee’s most popular talk shows, the original Morning Magazine and The Eric Von Show, for radio station 1290 WMCS-AM.

Von has received many awards and commendations for his on-air and community service work. His deft handling of national and local issues is widely acknowledged as the primary reason 1290 WMCS has been nominated twice for the radio industry’s coveted Marconi Award.

Aisha Turner - Producer

Aisha Turner is a writer and producer from Baltimore, Maryland. She cut her teeth in broadcasting while based in Washington, DC as a reporter-producer at the PBS NewsHour, originally the MacNeil/Lehrer Report. She’s also done brief stints at Al Jazeera America and local news.

Aisha has covered a range of national and international affairs stories and has a special interest in social justice issues. To that end, she has worked and studied in various countries throughout Europe and Africa. Aisha has a joint-MA in Global Studies from the Universities of Leipzig and Vienna and a BA in Public Policy and Sociology from Duke University.

Paul Kjelland - Engagement Director

As a member of the Justseeds Artists’ Cooperative, an international decentralized network of visual artists, Paul produces work with and for social and environmental justice movements. He is a co-founder of the Riverwest24, an annual 24 hour bicycle race and community project in Milwaukee entering it’s eighth year. Other projects include co-curating a lecture series called Night School that combines academics, activism and the arts to explore cohesive understanding and strategies to issues facing Milwaukee and beyond. Paul is also a co-founder of a mobile experimental cultural and independent media center called ReciproCITY.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This is the final episode of Precious Lives. And for this final story, we thought we’d return to the first family we met - the family of Laylah Petersen.

Two years ago, we interviewed Ashley Fogl and Amanda Legler.

Start From The Beginning: #001 Precious Lives: How Do You Measure the Loss of a Five-Year-Old Girl?

yeyen, fotolia

On June 11, 1994, Garland Hampton woke up around 10:30 am. He poured himself a bowl cereal, took a shower and went to a friend’s birthday party. That evening, Garland got into a fight with a fellow gang member. He pointed a 9-millimeter pistol at Donell Storks and shot him in the left side of the head.

Both boys were 15 years old.

Garland was arrested on homicide charges the next day. He wrote in his police report: “I feel very sorry about what happened.”

Mike DeSisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Well over a decade ago, pediatric surgeon Dr. John Densmore and his wife bought their first home. He had just started his residency at Children’s Hospital in Milwaukee.

"You know what I remember fondly about it was that people looked out for each other," Densmore says. For instance, he’d come home after a long shift to find his walk shoveled. But, there were problems.

"I remember on a run by a park near that house one day that a Hmong kid had been shot," he says. "Sort of being dumbstruck that that could happen so close to where I was living."

Michelle Maternowski

At the end of 2016, Precious Lives will shift gears. We’ll wrap up our radio series and focus on a traveling live show. The Precious Lives team will attempt to reach all corners of Milwaukee to harness diverse energies to combat the problem of gun violence.

Performers will bring their stories of gun violence directly into churches, schools, offices and so on.

Rick Wood | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Violence clusters like an infectious disease. But you can also feel it when you walk into certain community spaces, like All People’s Church in Milwaukee.

Precious Lives has featured All People’s before in our series - after 24-year-old member Isiah Johnson survived two separate shootings in one year.

Angela Peterson | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

After Sylville Smith was shot and killed by a police officer this summer, his family was left to grieve and figure out how to move forward.

His brother Sedan and cousin Taz have emerged as community leaders.

They’re young black men from the streets who are taking advantage of the spotlight to seek justice for Sylville, and push for a larger change in their community. And Precious Lives discovered how they’re being changed along the way.

: Mike De Sisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

We met 22-year-old Carlton Dewindt over a year ago, when he was featured on an early episode of Precious Lives.

Neighborhood feuds and shootings eventually culminated in the death of Carlton’s close friend, Lil Ray. Ray died in an alley next to an orchard tended by Walnut Way Conservation Corp.

The staff at Walnut Way gathered Carlton and other men affected by Ray's death. They talked, they boxed, they camped... They grieved together.

Courtesy of the Campbell Family

There’s a lot we know about gun violence. We know it’s concentrated in poorer areas. And we know those areas tend to be heavily black. But how did things get that way -- how did we get to the point where 84% of Milwaukee’s homicide victims are black?

To start understanding some of the historical underpinnings of how we got to where we are, Precious Lives producers Aisha Turner and Emily Forman visited Monk’s Barbershop.

Precious Lives

This is Precious Lives episode 93. We’re almost at our goal of telling 100 stories about gun violence and young people in Milwaukee. We’ve covered the family members who have lost loved ones, the activists fighting to make the city better, and the political leaders overseeing it all. Each week, we ask our interview subjects to be emotionally honest with us as we try to understand the problem of gun violence. This week, the microphones are turned on our reporters.

Courtesy of Mario Drain

Born a few months apart, Mario Drain and his friends wound up with very different fates after committing armed robbery together in high school.

His friends were 17 and sentenced as adults. Mario was still 16. He was sent to the Running Rebels and put into the Intensive Monitoring Program.

Mario's case workers stayed on him -- they made sure he came to meetings, got involved in activities and showed up to school everyday. This alternative to incarceration worked.

Aisha Turner, Precious Lives

In August 2016, 23-year old Sylville Smith was shot by District 7 Officer Dominique Heaggan.

Officer Lawson Murrell was long-interested in improving the relationship between the police and the black community. He’s now the Milwaukee Police Department's District 7 Community Liaison Officer.

And at the memorial for Sylville Smith on 44th and Auer, he’s facing the first major test of his new role. And as a black police officer, he’s stuck in an especially tough position.

Calvin Mattheis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

This is the final episode of a three part series following a young basketball team. At 13 and 14 years old - these players are dealing with a lot more than basketball drills. They lost a teammate last year: 13 year old Giovonnie Cameron, who was shot and killed within the first week of the season. In this episode, we’ll pick up where we left off: just weeks before the championship game, the team is undefeated.

Corresponding Content: 

Calvin Mattheis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Precious Lives picks up where it left off last week with Coach Eric Moore. He coaches in a summer basketball league called Warning Project Respect. And he’s earned himself a reputation throughout the league as the “crying coach.”

Coach held in his tears after years after his best friend and basketball teammate John Wess was killed back when they were teenagers. That trauma had major consequences on Coach - there was prison time, suicidal thoughts and more violence. But, he was able to turn things around.

: Calvin Mattheis, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

If you are between the ages of eight and 48, love basketball and live in Milwaukee’s central city…you’ve probably been a part of Warning’s basketball league. Over 40 years old, the Warning basketball league is the third oldest in the nation. It’s a rite of passage, and for many youth, it’s the place to be over the summer, wearing the colored t-shirt representing your team. But last year was a rough year for the league. Two players died within the first week - Tariq Akbar, 14 and Giovonnie Cameron, 13. Both were fatally shot.

Courtesy of 371 Productions

On Thursday, September 8th, Precious Lives host Eric Von died of a heart attack. He was 58.

In addition to being a journalist, Eric was a beloved community leader who touched many people along his path.

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