Register for StoryCorps
Jacqueline Van Meter has heard it time and again when she asks someone to talk about themselves and their lives on the StoryCorps radio program.
“So often we hear from folks: ‘I couldn’t possibly record. I don’t have a story to tell,’” she said. “And to that we say, ‘Everybody has a wisdom from their own life to share that matters. Everybody has experienced love, loss, grief, joy that adds to the portrait of American life.’”
Those emotions will undoubtedly be part of the takeaway from the StoryCorps MobileBooth—an Airstream trailer converted into a mobile recording studio—which is now in Miller Park downtown and will be there until April 7.
“The simple act of sitting down and recording an uninterrupted conversation where you ask the questions that really matter and have that intentional dialogue is itself the story,” Van Meter, site manager for the StoryCorps Mobile Tour, said Tuesday at the opening ceremony for the project.
Inside the trailer, two people will have 40-minute conversations on any subject they choose. StoryCorps has partnered with WUTC-FM 88.1, Chattanooga’s NPR station, to collect 125 interviews.
Some of the Chattanooga conversations will be edited into four-minute segments and appear on WUTC during Morning Edition, which airs from 6-9 a.m. weekdays, and All Things Considered, which runs weekdays from 4-7 p.m. The station also will use the conversations to create special programming.
“You know that these stories will make us laugh and make us cry and make us feel closer together,” said Will Davis, outreach manager for WUTC.
The program’s visit is a partnership between WUTC, UTC and the City of Chattanooga.
Davis said he has wanted to bring StoryCorps to town ever since arriving at the radio station about 18 months ago. He was bit hesitant to bring it up at first however.
“I was the new guy and this is a big ask,” he said. “But it wasn’t because everybody at the station and everybody at the university and everybody at City Hall and everyone at StoryCorps agreed that this was the right thing to do and that this was the right time to do it.
“We are public radio and by definition public is inclusive, so we are perfectly positioned to create these kinds of storytelling and storymaking opportunities for the Tennessee Valley,” he added.
StoryCorps launched the Mobile Tour back in 2005 and has recorded more than 500,000 stories since. The program often shares excerpts of the conversations through the its weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms and books.
Participants will receive a digital copy of the recording and, with their permission, a second copy is archived in the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center in the Library of Congress.
At the opening ceremony, Corinne Hill, executive director of the Chattanooga Public Library, said the conversations recorded by StoryCorps show “we have so much in common and how important it is to capture a city’s history through storytelling.”
“The history should be told by everyone and it should be open to everyone and it also should be accessible to everyone, which is what’s really brilliant about StoryCorps,” she said.