Fearless Media, the new collective of journalists and producers, has released its first project. Ukraine Stories will be a daily podcast that will share one story of an individual impacted by the war in Ukraine. The series is hosted by David Greene, the former NPR host, who will largely play a backseat role in the storytelling. Fearless Media says what will set Ukraine Stories apart from other daily news shows out of Ukraine is that it is told in first-person narratives, by the people living through this war.
“We hear these numbers of millions of Ukrainians fleeing, but what can those numbers tell us about the humanity of a people? What does it take to leave the only home you've ever known? What can we learn from hearing their voices?” said Greene. “Being here in Ukraine offers us a rare opportunity to share their experiences beyond the time constraints of a traditional daily news show, in the midst of war.”
Listeners are taken to the streets, cars, and bomb shelters of Ukraine, where people are making difficult choices as they face a new reality. They include people like Galyna, who fled Mariupol with her dog, a backpack, and a camera. And Max, who records fairy tales for kids hiding out in basements. There is also Olena, a millennial, once the face of the “new Ukraine,” who is now looking at a very different future. And Svetlana, who narrowly survived an attack by an anti-tank missile as she fled Russian occupation.
“The beauty of this show is the totality of it. With each episode, we are letting these voices unfurl,” said Executive Producer Kelly McEvers. “We are creating a record, a collection of short stories that show the reality of this war in a way no one else is doing.”
In hopes of reaching listeners in Russia, where much of the news of the war is either sanitized or blocked, Fearless Media will release a separate feed of Ukraine Stories in Russian this week.
Former “Morning Edition” producer Ashley Westerman is the lead producer and fill-in host for Ukraine Stories, which is produced in partnership with Spotify. Longtime NPR producer Theo Balcomb, who most recently worked at the New York Times’ daily news show The Daily, is the consulting editor while Kyiv-based Anton Loboda is the lead reporter.
Fearless Media is the new company formed by a cadre of NPR and public radio veterans. Greene previously co-hosted “Morning Edition” while co-founder Kelly McEvers hosted “All Things Considered” and Tony Mosley hosted the midday talk show “Hear & Now” based at WBUR Boston. The trio is handling the content side of Fearless Media, while fellow cofounder John Wotowicz is handling the business side. He is an investment banker and media executive who also spent six years on the NPR board.