This American Life

Air date: 
Friday, February 22, 2013

Alex has been a longtime contributor to This American Life, and his radio stories, like his writing, are deeply reported, character-driven pieces. He most recently worked on This American Life’s two-part series Harper High which was awarded the Third Coast International Audio Festival’s Gold Award for Best Documentary as well as a Columbia-duPont Journalism Award.

Listen to Alex’s stories that have appeared on This American Life.


Chicago is one of America’s most iconic, historic, and fascinating cities. For Alex Kotlowitz, an accidental Chicagoan, it is the perfect perch from which to peer into America’s heart.

Separated by a river, St. Joseph and Benton Harbor are two Michigan towns that are geographically close, yet worlds apart. St. Joseph is a prosperous, predominately white lakeshore community while Benton Harbor is impoverished and predominately black. When the body of Eric McGinnis, a black teenage boy from Benton Harbor, is found in the river that separates the towns, relations between the two communities grow increasingly strained as longheld misperceptions and attitudes surface. 

There Are No Children Here chronicles two years in the lives of two boys, Lafeyette and Pharoah, struggling to survive in Chicago’s Henry Horner Homes, a public housing complex disfigured by crime and neglect. 

© 2018, Alex Kotlowitz. All rights reserved