'The Story' says goodbye: Producers share favorite segments

67081 full

Thursday is the last day The Story will air on KPCC and other public radio stations across the country. The program's host, Dick Gordon, is leaving WUNC after eight years with the nationally distributed show. 

In an interview with North Carolina Public Radio, Gordon told Eric Hodge he's moving on to spend more time with his family. "Change is not a bad thing for me, and we'll see where it leads us," he said

To commemorate, KPCC gathered favorite segments from the show's producers. Take a listen below, and let us know your favorites in a comment. Scroll to the bottom for a special goodbye message from Gordon. 


1. NOT YOUR TYPICAL PUBLIC RADIO GUEST

Dick Gordon interviews photographer Andrea Morales

I loved the interview with Andrea Morales because everything about her and her story surprises me. I like the way she talks. She used a lot of language we had to bleep or edit out. She doesn't sound like your typical public radio guest, and she's telling a story about her friendship with a young woman she was supposed to be photographing. After a certain number of months, the distinctions between "photographer" and "subject" sort of fell apart, and Andrea found herself involved with the young woman and her family as things got harder for them financially and personally. As a listener, I don't feel coaxed toward any particular resolution. Even now, after editing it and hearing it so many times, I'm not sure how to reconcile my feelings for the piece, but I will say it makes me consider the limits of my own compassion.

Lauren Spohrer, Producer, Editor, Director

2. SURVIVING BEARS AND HURRICANES 

Dick Gordon interviews survivor Joe Williams

Dick Gordon interviews a Hurricane Katrina survivor

You know it is a good story when the host doesn’t have to do anything but just sit back and listen.

—Phoebe Judge, Fill-in Host, Producer


3. THE SOLE SURVIVOR OF THE MANN GULCH FIRE

Dick Gordon interviews smokejumper Bob Sallee

The story of the Mann Gulch Fire was one I learned about many years before I started working in radio. I was more than a little obsessed with the singer-songwriter Dar Williams. She and two other artists recorded a cover of a song called "Cold Missouri Waters" by James Keelaghan about the fire and those who perished. I was captivated by the song, and the story of the smokejumpers. Years later, when I started working at The Story, there was a particularly horrific wildfire season and I remembered the song. Of the fire survivors, only one was still alive – Bob Sallee. When I pitched the idea of talking to Sallee, Dick remembered a book he had read by Norman Maclean called 'Young Men and Fire' about the Mann Gulch fire; this would eventually add another dimension to the story. I don’t recall the details, but I know Mr. Sallee was surprisingly hard to track down. And once I did find him, there was complication after complication to get him to a studio – not to mention his understandable resistance to telling the story. I think the story finally went to air one year after I first tried to contact him.

Rachel McCarthy, Producer


4. HAVE YOU EVER MET ONE OF YOUR LITERARY HEROES?

Dick Gordon interviews author Allan Gurganus

We didn't have many fiction writers on the program, because we were focused on what's true. But I liked the idea of asking fiction writers the same simple question: "Have you ever met one of your literary heroes?" This was much more of a crapshoot than most of our pitches — but we knew that if anyone would be able to play along, it would be Allan Gurganus. He replied immediately that he had a story about meeting his idol Tennessee Williams. What's great about this story is that Williams comes off so poorly, it was a hilariously awful meeting, and yet Gurganus didn't walk away from it any less devoted to his hero.

—Lauren Spohrer, Producer, Editor, Director


5. LIFE ON THE LINE OF A CHICKEN PROCESSING PLANT

Dick Gordon interviews workers of a chicken processing plant

I loved the story of two women who had worked for years “on the line” at a chicken processing plant. Both women were retired, but were participating in a Duke University study that was documenting the physical toll such work takes on a person’s body. Their stories from inside the plant were really amazing to me.

Carol Jackson, Managing Editor


6. ONE BAD*SS TRANSLATOR

Sean Cole interviews sign-language translator Holly Maniatty

I really loved Sean Cole's interview with the sign-language translator who works music festivals. I remember seeing the guest’s video on Gawker and thinking that it was crazy, but giving her the "Story" treatment revealed a whole other world I didn't know existed — that of super-talented volunteer translators who are also complete bad*sses.

—Eric Mennel, Staff Producer


7. A WOMAN TAKES A PLANE TO AVERT HER L.A. COMMUTE

Dick Gordon interviews an L.A. Commuter

—Jorge Valencia, Associate Producer


We'll leave you with this special message from Dick Gordon. Share your favorite episodes in comments, on Twitter or Facebook

Dick Gordon says goodbye

Correction: This article originally stated that Friday was the last day of broadcast for 'The Story.'

blog comments powered by Disqus