Like seasoned war veterans, old before their time, the two boys described the bitter truth about the sounds of machine guns at night and the effects of a thriving drug world on a community.
Ghetto Life 101 became one of the most acclaimed programs in American public radio history and went onto win a host of awards including the Prix Italia. It has been broadcast worldwide but never on the BBC.
Today, LeAlan and Lloyd are men and have gone their different ways, and the Chicago they described has to a large degree vanished. However, the violence, poverty and drugs that informed their old world remain endemic problems for many.
As the US presidential elections approach, BBC World Service broadcasts Out of the Ghetto, in which LeAlan Jones - now 29 - gives his frank assessment of life in the city today, viewed through adult eyes and fuelled by experience.
Due to rights restrictions, we are unable to offer the original documentary Ghetto Life 101 as audio on demand, however if you want to hear to the original documentary, you can go the Sound Portraits website where it is available.