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.

Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

There were 145 homicides in Milwaukee in 2015. The year revealed some persistent trends ­that the vast majority of victims were young African American males who died by a firearm.

It’s tempting to seek one reason behind rising homicide totals, but in some ways you’re better off learning the details behind every story.

Timberley Brown

We hear a lot about young men falling victim to or becoming perpetrators of gun violence. Young men who don’t expect to live past the age of of 25, but still try to survive.

The young women in their midst have survival tactics too. This week we meet two young ladies who share how they succeed, even while living amid drug deals and violence.

Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

2015 was a violent year for Milwaukee. The total year end number of homicides was up nearly 70% from the previous year. Most of the victims were young African American males. And many of those deaths were a result of a gun.

The new year brings some hope, and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett's office has some changes in store, ­ including two new positions related to youth violence prevention.

Mayor Barrett discusses how he plans to reduce violence in the coming years.

Emily Forman

When it comes to youth violence prevention, consistent, reliable, caring adults play a big role.

A mentor can lighten the load of a single mom raising three boys while working 16 hour shifts, making it more likely that kids enroll in college and less likely that they use drugs or pick up a gun.

The Running Rebels Community Organization is a youth center with ping pong, a basketball team, a recording studio. Here, mentors work around the clock to keep young people safe.

Calvin Mattheis for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

At least 100 children, ages 14 and below, are accidentally shot and killed each year in the United States. That is what happened one week in July of 2015, a week when nine people were shot and killed in Milwaukee.

The youngest victim was 13 year-­old Giovonnie Cameron, accidentally killed by his cousin who found the gun in a park.

Charlie Koss

Remixing the sounds and voices of the first year of Precious Lives episodes, composer Kiran Vee creates an immersive sonic experience.

Travel through time and sound on a journey from pain to healing. Listen as the people you've met in the series steer you on a path that Milwaukee must take to rid our city of gun violence and build a community where we can all live together in peace.

Courtesy of Ken Brown, Westcare Wisconsin

Grover Ferguson turned 18, just before he received a 50 year sentence in federal prison. He shot a 53 year old woman three times in the face. And stole her car. He told officers that he didn’t want to walk. And since he had a gun, he didn’t need to. He says got scared and pulled the trigger.

Rick Wood for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Within the last couple of years, Milwaukee Public Schools changed its policy around expulsion. In the past, students expelled for violent behavior would sit at home, often unsupervised, without help. Now, when kids get expelled, most for fighting, students get the opportunity to go to an alternative school.

Southeastern Education Cebter is a behavioral reassignment school for 6th through 8th graders. There are many tools built into the curriculum to stop fighting, and prepare kids to return to their regular MPS classes.

Rick Wood for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

You might think you know the student who gets expelled, ­ the one who picks fights, destroys school property, brings in a BB gun, or maybe a real gun. But you probably have no idea what’s really going on with that student.

Southeastern Education Center is an alternative school for middle school aged kids expelled from the Milwaukee Public school system. Technically, it is a behavioral reassignment school. Almost all students have been expelled for fighting. And every kid has something that underlies their behavior, namely chaos at home.

Mike De Sisti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Over a hundred people have been killed by guns in Milwaukee this year. But nearly five times that many have been shot and survived. We often don’t think about them, their recovery and what it costs.

Claudiare Motley was shot during a botched carjacking. He shares his story with us.

Motley is a father of three. He and his wife Kimberly left Milwaukee eight years ago for Charlotte, North Carolina, which they say is a safer place to raise kids. Kimberly is an international lawyer. Motley helps her run the firm, while waiting to see if he passed his bar exam.

Nicolas Lampert

Amidst the various organizations, discussion panels and anti­gun summits to end the violence in Milwaukee, Fidel Verdin is trying something different.

He says that language focused on guns and violence promotes bad behavior rather than prevents it. That’s why he co­founded Summer of Peace, a city­wide youth rally to promote positive things that young people do in the city like music, dance, poetry and art. But to promote the positive people have to see it, and Fidel knows the perfect venues: vacant lots.

Paul Kjelland

The justice department just released about 6,000 inmates early from prison. It’s the largest one time release of federal prisoners. Those who received too harsh sentencing related to drug crimes will get a second chance ­- reflecting recent, more lenient federal sentences for drug offenders.

Sandy Manikowski

If you have your concealed carry permit in Wisconsin, it’s legal to carry a concealed weapon on a college campus. As long as you don’t step foot in a campus building.

GOP Assemblyman Jesse Kremer and Sen. Devin LeMahieu have introduced the Campus Carry Act, a bill that would allow concealed guns in the classroom. They say it will make campuses safer from violent crime and mass shootings.

Brad Lichtenstein

Cities across the U.S. that have enacted comprehensive violence prevention plans have seen dramatic reductions in violence. Minneapolis, Minnesota is one example. Precious Lives traveled there for a previous episode and learned that success hinges on city­wide collaboration - from government agencies and major non­profits to businesses and grassroots initiatives.

Mike Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

24-year-old Isiah Johnson was a victim of a shooting not once, but twice in one year.

Each time, hours after leaving the hospital he went straight to All People’s Church in Milwaukee’s Harambee neighborhood. He stood before the congregation and asked for help.

In response the congregation assembled a men’s group to help Isiah find his purpose, and admitted that prayer alone won’t keep Isiah safe.

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