Los Angeles, CA (August 27, 2015) – KCRW announced today a new multi-year documentary and reporting series on issues affecting the lives of Los Angeles residents who find themselves at the edges of our community. The series, supported by a generous grant from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, will explore Los Angeles’ most vulnerable populations.
The inaugural series “Below the Ten: Stories of South LA” focuses on the neighborhoods south of the 10 Freeway, including Watts, Jefferson Park, and Compton. Produced by David Weinberg, “Below the Ten” explores personal stories of residents in Los Angeles neighborhoods once associated with African-American disenfranchisement, gangster rap, crime and civil unrest. Today, however, the vast majority of South L.A.’s population is Latino, and some of these historically neglected neighborhoods are seeing more corporate investment as well as some of the biggest residential development projects in Southern California. “Below the Ten” explores these changing communities through intimate, personal stories of those who reside there.
Many of the people highlighted in “Below the Ten” are poor – some are undocumented, some lack basic shelter, safety and opportunities to get ahead. Weinberg comments, “it’s about elevating people who often get reduced to very simple narratives about ‘struggle’ and ‘bootstraps’. I’m interested in getting as close as possible to trying to learn about how their lives are affected by the circumstances that exist for many in L.A.”
The stories are produced documentary style, with the audio premiering on KCRW’s airwaves with complementary video features available online. Weinberg spent weeks and sometimes months with the people in these communities. “A lot comes out during the hanging out time that you wouldn’t know to ask in an interview. Serendipity happens more when you put in the time,” Weinberg says. “The web of personal connections becomes more apparent. It starts to feel more like a small town.”
“Below the Ten: Stories of South LA” a multi-chapter series will be unveiled over the course of eight months. The introductory chapter, “The New Compton” tells the story of the changing face of Compton. The premiere of Chapter 2 “Grace of the Sea” will air on August 28 at 7:30 PM on KCRW’s UnFictional. Luis Jesus Gutierrez Sanchez, who calls himself “Grace of the Sea,” has been living in a garage in South L.A. for six years. He’s pasted pictures of celebrities cut out from magazines to the walls and written poetry on them in pink chalk. It’s his own magical world tucked away in Jefferson Park, a neighborhood just south of the 10 Freeway between Crenshaw and Normandie. But, now he has to move. His landlord, fearing city inspectors, has told him to get out.
For more information and online access to full audio and video, please visit: kcrw.com/belowtheten
KCRW creates and curates a unique mix of content centered around music discovery, NPR news, cultural exploration and informed public affairs. We are driven by the spirit of LA and deliver in innovative ways — on the radio, digitally and in person — to diverse, curious communities around the corner and around the world. A community service of Santa Monica College, KCRW can be found on the air in LA, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Mojave, Palm Springs, and via five KCRW-developed smart phone apps and online at kcrw.com.
About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation
The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition-age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $1.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1 billion in grants, distributing $100 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2014. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.5 billion. For more information, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.