I was recently introduced to Lisa Napoli of Gracefully Radio. I’ve known her voice from Public Radio’s Marketplace and while covering culture for the radio beat of Los Angeles, KCRW. In her next chapter, Lisa has been interviewing 50+ people who are finding their own path in the next phase of their lives.
From the site, Napoli describes the guiding vision of the work:
What does it mean to grow old gracefully?
The attitudes conveyed in popular media about growing older range from pity to condescension to trite stereotypes. Mention “aging” and many people slither into denial.
And yet there’s no denying: Every seven seconds, another person turns age 50.
In just a few short years, close to 30% of the US population will be made up of people 55 and older, and even the median age of Americans in the work force will rise to 42. Growing old in the modern world poses new, uncharted challenges. Join us as we wade through these waters ourselves by talking to people who have compelling perspectives on the changes.
Gracefully aims to show, through the stories we share, that while aging is inevitable, how we deal with it is a choice.
We shared a conversation at her dining table in downtown Los Angeles. Here she describes how she ended up doing what she’s doing.
I started a podcast on aging for one main reason: I couldn’t find a job. I’m 54—and have been a journalist for 34 years. After my second book came out, the part-time radio job I loved had dried up. That gig had never paid a grand sum, but it had been helpful for me to be flexible since I had two progressively ill elderly relatives out of state, my father and aunt, who I was committed to visit every six or eight weeks. I noticed a lot of friends around my age had similar stresses: some were managing care while working full-time, others were moving back in with parents out of economic need, lots of people in their fifties who could not find gainful work.
So, since I was tired of lobbing off years from my resume in order to apply to jobs I knew I was unlikely to get—I started talking to people about these issues and posting them online. I named it Gracefully cause that’s how I think we all hope we’ll grow old. I’m learning that how we approach aging is a choice—even though there are many factors out of our control. And I’m frustrated that with all this talk about diversity in the media, the voices and stories of people of this generation are rarely represented.
We’re glad to welcome the voices from Gracefully Radio on Next For Me. Below are a few samples:
ARE YOU GOOD TO GO? AMY PICKARD WANTS TO HELP YOU PREPARE FOR YOUR DEMISE
FROM BROOKLYN TO BOYNTON BEACH: A VISIT WITH A PIONEERING PERFORMER
“BESTIE ROW,” A MODERN, COMMUNAL TWIST ON THE OLD AGE HOME
Lisa Napoli grew up in Flatbush, Brooklyn, back when it was a working-class outpost of the city, not the hip, hipster paradise it is today. She’s never taken for granted the career she’s been fortunate to make in various media: from covering technology for the New York Times at the dawn of the Internet, to her on-air work at MSNBC and the public radio show Marketplace. For the last four years, Lisa served as arts correspondent for KCRW in Santa Monica, all the while writing a book about the late philanthropist Joan Kroc to be published in the fall by Dutton. Her first book, Radio Shangri-La, is about her accidental invitation to the Kingdom of Bhutan to help start a radio station at the dawn of democratic rule. She loves hearing other people’s stories and helping to tell them. She also loves to help. In addition to serving on the board as an advisor to a refugee-led media group called the Bhutan Media Society, she leads a cooking group that feeds homeless women on Skid Row in Los Angeles.