Restoring faith in humanity, 1 StoryCorps story at a time
Ten years in the making, with more than 45,000 stories recorded and archived from 90,000 participants, StoryCorps is more than just a tearjerking collection of family history. It's gradually becoming the fabric of America's story, says its founder Dave Isay.
"People have asked me over the last couple of weeks how StoryCorps has changed me, you know if I could sum it up in once sentence," Isay told AirTalk's Larry Mantle and a live audience at KPCC's Crawford Family Forum. "I think it probably is that it's made me much more hopeful. It's greatly made much more hopeful about people."
Isay shared the story behind the stories in StoryCorps and how it started and how it has evolved over the last ten years. Here are some program highlights:
Dave Isay and how he fell in love with radio:
I was in college and I was headed to medical school. And I had a feeling it wasn't what my calling was.
I was really lucky at the age of 21 to have this moment where I pushed on the cassette recorder, at the time, play and record, and they started talking. And I knew I was going to do this the rest of my life.
How StoryCorps became a personal journey:
When StoryCorps launched, about two years into it I brought my dad to do an interview. About a little bit more than a year ago … he got sick one day and was diagnosed with cancer. He was dead six or seven days later. So it was that night at three in the morning, listening to that StoryCorps interview with my dad—he had died at seven in the morning, I listened to it at three the next morning—that the rubber really hit the road for me and I fully kind of understood everything that we were doing with StoryCorps.
StoryCorps story: A bouncer meets a topless bar contestant—the story of Philip and Susan McClinton.
StoryCorps is a service to the participants:
And I should say what happens in the booth is very intimate and one of the many miracles of StoryCorps over the last 10 years is, as you said, we are a public service. StoryCorps is all about giving people that chance to sit in the booth with each other and have this moment where they're really telling each other how much they love each other by listening to each other.
When StoryCorps started, it had no broadcast piece to it:
Originally StoryCorps was all about giving people that experience, and still that's what we're all about. And this content, the stories that you heard are just kind of a wonderful byproduct of that.
StoryCorps stories are hidden in plain sight:
When I meet folks from the booth, from the book or from the radio stories, they're all exactly as wonderful as they come across in the stories but event better. What you get from all these stories is what the facilitators will say when they come off the road—and these facilitators have this job of essentially collecting the wisdom of humanity—and when they come off the road and you ask what they've learned…they'll say that people are basically good.
StoryCorps story: The man who killed my son—the story of Oshea Israel and Mary Johnson