Sylvia Ryerson is a radio producer, sound artist and journalist based in Brooklyn, NY. For nearly a decade her work, rooted at the intersection of scholarship, activism and art, has probed the overlapping crises of mass incarceration, rural poverty, and environmental destruction. Her work has been featured on WNYC's The Takeaway, The Marshall Project, Transom.org, The Third Coast International Audio Festival, the BBC and WBUR's Here and Now. After graduating from Wesleyan University, Sylvia moved to Eastern Kentucky to work at Appalshop, the renowned documentary arts center in the heart of the Central Appalachian Mountains. Sylvia served as a reporter and Director of Public Affairs for Appalshop’s community radio station WMMT-FM, and led the production of Calls from Home, a nationally recognized radio program sending phone messages from family members to their loved ones incarcerated in rural Appalachia.
In 2014, Sylvia started Restorative Radio, a participatory audio documentary project. She works with families that have loved ones incarcerated to create “audio postcards” from home. She then works with radio stations to broadcast the postcards so their loved ones in prison—as well as the general listening audience—can hear them. The project aims to transcend prison walls and change public perceptions of who is behind them, creating a pathway towards healing for individuals, families, communities and a nation profoundly affected by mass incarceration.