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Jon Earle

May 18, 2018


Hudson, NY


Recorded by

Demetria Shabazz

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Jon Earle is an independent radio producer based in Brooklyn, NY. He has produced for print, TV, and podcasts, with a special focus on the former Soviet Union. Jon is particularly interested in creative audio documentaries and family history. Born and raised in Weston, Connecticut, a suburb of New York City, he graduated from Williams College and spent several years living and working in Moscow, Russia.

Summary – Early years of young middle-class Brooklyn, New York transplant working as a journalist and podcaster, growing up in a close-knit Connecticut suburb. The narrative chronicles his connection to language and storytelling, familial history, relationships, life challenges, and successes, his maternal family’s ties to Russia, his journey to the country, and his experiences while a student, teacher, and journalist while there.

Describes his rich family traditions of theatrical productions, sing-alongs, get “togethers” and holiday gatherings and the loss of neighborhood and family members of his youth. He speaks of a desire to reconstitute family through friends, siblings, and cousins despite the need to be successful, and pursue his career goals. He recounts his early relationships with his parents; his father’s creative theatrical productions orchestrated for Labor Day holidays, and his past and current relationship with his mother as she nurtured his verbal communication skills when he was a child.

The narrator shares stories of his loving yet sometimes ambivalent relationship with his sister and brother and their individual successes and challenges as young people and adults. He shares a story about his older sister’s tough and caring nature that she demonstrated through competitive horse shows as a young person. His relationship with his older brother shaped him to challenge himself as an adult and places the sometimes-difficult sibling relationship within his own generational fears and anxieties into the context of the 1990s, following the 1999 Columbine shooting, 9/11, and the Great Recession.

Jon shares why he chose to learn Russian and with great detail recounts his day to day experience while living in Moscow in the 2010s riding the old “trams” on the way to work, past the Nikulin Circus, by Soviet-era “Khrushchyovka” apartment buildings, and his reporting on political events such as the May 6th 2012 protest, the "March of the Millions," the day before Vladimir Putin’s 3rd presidential inauguration where the narrator says that “everything changed.” The narrator shares that afterwards many people went to jail marking a day with so much hope and potential was a turning point for Russia.

This interview would be useful to those who are interested in the changing role of familial bonds for young Millennial professionals and witnessing the former Soviet Union through the eyes of a young journalist, prior to and during the May 6, 2012 protests in Russia.  

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Interviewer Bio:
Demetria Shabazz

Demetria Rougeaux Shabazz is an activist and professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where she teaches film, Afro-American studies, and community-engaged learning. At the time of the interview, she was a student at the Oral History Summer School.

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This interview is hereby made available for research purposes only. For additional uses (radio and other media, music, internet), please click here to inquire about permissions.

Part of this interview may be played in a radio broadcast or podcast.

Oral history is an iterative process. In keeping with oral history values of anti-fixity, interviewees will have an opportunity to add, annotate and reflect upon their lives and interviews in perpetuity. Talking back to the archive is a form of “shared authority.”

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