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.

Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On August 13th, all eyes turned to Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood. Protesters jumped on police cars and set buildings on fire, outraged over the police shooting of Sylville Smith.

Coburn Dukehart, Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Last year in Milwaukee, close to 70 percent of gun homicide suspects possessed their guns illegally.

They wouldn’t have passed a background check. That was the case with Radcliffe Haughton.

Four years ago, he walked he into the Azana Spa with a semiautomatic handgun, killing three people and injuring four more.

Elvin Daniel lost his sister Zina that day, and it challenged his views on gun ownership laws.

Now, he’s committed to lobbying for universal background checks.

Corresponding Content:

Mike De Sisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Milwaukee zip code 53206 comes with a lot of labels: mass incarceration, poverty, violence.

Underneath those labels there’s a lot of pain, but there’s also a lot of love. Kimberley Zulkowski love her community.

"Love will make you a master at many things quickly," she says. "I love my community and I love the people in it."

She is from 53206 and says it’s hard to shake the labels. Kimberley's seen many people she knows leave in caskets.

And when homicides picked up in 2015, her connection grew deeper.

Michelle Maternowski

On Saturday, August 14th, a Milwaukee police officer shot and killed 23-year old Sylville Smith near the intersection of West Auer Avenue and North 44th Street.

The police department reported that Smith had a gun and refused to drop it. Details are still unfolding.

What we do understand is that in the Sherman Park neighborhood where this took place, tensions had been mounting for weeks.

Sylville’s death sparked peaceful protests, as well as violent unrest. Footage of buildings set aflame brought national attention to the Milwaukee and its struggles.

Photo courtesy of Jermaine Reed’s Facebook page

Black youth make up two-thirds of the kids in Milwaukee's foster care system.

This worries Jermaine Reed. He is determined to make foster care a more effective system -- especially for black youth.

He calls foster care an incubator for the criminal justice system.

Jermaine is the executive director of Fresh Start Family Services, Wisconsin’s first private placement agency run by an African American. He also hosts Fresh Start Today, a radio program on WNOV dedicated to educating the black community about child welfare.

Photo by Emily Forman

17-year-olds Tyrone Fleming and Simone Staples  love their new summer jobs. From 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. weekdays, they get paid $12 an hour to stop violence in their neighborhoods, which includes walking up to guys arguing over a drug deal and persuading them against shooting.

Courtesy of Derrick Shoates

17-year-old Tommie Harbin was never in a gang, never dealt drugs, never carried a gun. Avoiding violence never seemed that hard.

Tommie kept busy. Mostly, he played basketball. Because when he plays basketball, he feels most like himself.

Still Tommie got shot. And now he has to rely on the same mental toughness - the kind that earned him recognition as a basketball star to bounce back. But it’s not easy.

John Klein / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Destiny Boone remembers her daughter Za'layia as a sassy, creative girl who loved to rap, write and help take care of her younger siblings.

Destiny is still wrapping her head around losing her nine-year-old daughter. Za’layia was the victim of a stray bullet that struck her during a shootout on May 5th, 2016.

As the family copes with the loss of a child, Destiny’s aunt, Ramona, is working to make sure Za’layia is never forgotten.

#078 Precious Lives: Seeking Distance

Jul 12, 2016
Photo courtesy of Beverley Moore

Beverley Moore grew up amid gun violence in the inner city. When she became a mom, she made the decision to move to the suburbs because she worried about her son's safety.

For the most part, Beverley has found what she was looking for: a sense of peace and relaxation.

But even now, guns are a fairly ubiquitous part of her life. Her friends have lost loved ones, her ex-husband’s job keeps him in close proximity to violence, and the families she works with in the foster care system are often impacted by gun violence.

Emily Forman / Precious Lives

Say a tornado hits Milwaukee today. What would people need? Temporary shelter, house repairs, family counseling, financial planning support.

Well, when there’s a drive-by shooting and a little girl dies, her family needs a lot of the same things. Although shootings aren’t natural, emergency disaster relief strategies completely apply.

This is one way Milwaukee chaplains with the Salvation Army have been trained to deal with trauma.

Mike De Sisti | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Focused deterrence is a law enforcement strategy that’s been around for nearly two decades. Some cities use it to curb violence, and sometimes it’s successful.

It works like this: pick a crime problem to tackle ­like homicide or a root cause like drug trafficking. Next, find out who’s part of the problem and then offer those people an incentive to change ­like jobs, drug treatment or state IDs. And if those particular people slip up again, give long prison sentences.

Courtesy of Kiran Vee

On Wednesday, June 15, Precious Lives will host a live performance at the Pabst Theater.

Kiran Vee, also known as Q the Sun, composes the music for our radio series, and has also scored the upcoming live show.

Courtesy of the City of Milwaukee

Police aides Sergio Rivera and Jada Greer grew up skeptical of police officers, and in communities where they weren’t phased by gunfire.

And now, if they succeed in the police aide program, they might join a new class of officers who will be responding to violent scenarios around the city.

Precious Lives spoke with them about why they’re motivated to join the force, and what kinds of officers they would like to be.

Emily Forman / Precious Lives

On the evening of May 5, shots rang out between two rival groups on the 1500 block of West Meinecke Avenue in Milwaukee. After more than 40 rounds were fired, the only known victim was nine-year-old Za’Layia Jenkins.

She had been watching TV inside when the shots began. Za’layia was shot in the head and was declared brain dead a week and a half later, the day before her 10th birthday.

Rick Wood | Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

On August 1, 2015, Glendale Police Officer Eric Guse was at an event at the pet store that had raised money for his dog’s new ballistic vest when the call came in. Officer Guse had gotten carjacking calls before, but this one would change his life.

The dashcam in his squad car captured most of it: The black Porsche racing from Glendale to Milwaukee... The driver crashing the car and running onto a playground... Officer Guse running after him... puffs of smoke from the shootout. Officer Guse was grazed. And the driver, Deandre Wise got shot in the leg.