StoryCorps, the national nonprofit organization dedicated to recording, preserving, and sharing the stories of people from all backgrounds and beliefs, recorded remote interviews in the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia from June 2, 2021 to June 26, 2021 as part of its Mobile Tour.
Now in its 16th year, the StoryCorps Mobile Tour has facilitated thousands of meaningful conversations between people who know and care about one another in its MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer outfitted with a recording studio. For the safety of participants during the pandemic, StoryCorps is currently visiting each location on the tour remotely, recording conversations in its “virtual recording booth.” Participants can record remotely from their homes using an internet-connected device.
In the Shenandoah Valley and Central Virginia, StoryCorps partnered with NPR affiliate WMRA. WMRA broadcast a selection of the local interviews. StoryCorps may also share excerpts of these stories with the world through the project’s popular weekly NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books.
In a StoryCorps interview, two people are able to record a meaningful conversation with one another about who they are, what they’ve learned in life, and how they want to be remembered. A trained StoryCorps facilitator guides them through the interview process. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a digital copy of their interview. With participant permission, a second copy is archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress for future generations to hear.
During StoryCorps’ Virtual Mobile Tour, the interview process and experience was conducted via StoryCorps Virtual, a new, browser-based platform that allows both participants to see and hear one another during their conversation, and to be joined and guided by a facilitator remotely.
StoryCorps is made possible in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private corporation funded by the American people.
Back in 2004, when StoryCorps first launched the mobile tour, Charlottesville was their first stop and WMRA, along with partner station WVTF, hosted this innaugural event. WMRA produced a special broadcast from stories gathered during that visit. That special is available below.
The stories showcased in this special broadcast include:
- Julann Griffin and the story of talking with Merv Griffin about the idea that led to the creation of Jeopardy, and how she purposely remembers important events in her life.
- Kenneth Staples, a barber, recalls the time he shaved someone on live TV for charity.
- Jazz Musician, Dave Kannensohn, explains why he decided to throw himself a wake at the age of 90.
- Jim Childress and Barbara Payne discuss the happiest and saddest moments in their lives.
- John Hines speaks with his son David about becoming a new father.
- Cindy Walters speaks with her mother, Wanda Walters about family, proud accomplishments and regrets.
- Kimberly Johnson speaks with her mother Katherine Jackson, who at the age of 53, was a recent UVA grad.
- Kat Imhoff speaks with her father Ed Imhoff about his service during the Korean War.
- Retired cardiologist Hayden Hollingsworth remembers his grandfather and his shared memories from the Civil War, and also recalls a unique cardiologist patient.
- Greg and Katherine Korbon remember their son Brian Korbon and the extraordinary events surrounding his death.
Founded in 2003 by award-winning documentary producer and MacArthur Fellow Dave Isay, StoryCorps has traveled to every corner of the country to record interviews in the organization’s effort to create a world where we listen closely to each other and recognize the beauty, grace and poetry in the lives and stories we find all around us.
“StoryCorps tells an authentic American story—that we are a people defined by small acts of courage, kindness, and heroism. Each interview reminds people that their lives matter and will not be forgotten,” said Isay. “During this pandemic, the value of preserving these stories, and of strengthening connections between people who may feel physically isolated, is more important than ever.”
StoryCorps has given over half a million Americans of all backgrounds and beliefs, in towns and cities in all 50 states, the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its archive at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ weekly podcast, NPR broadcasts, animated shorts, digital platforms, and best-selling books. These powerful human stories reflect the vast range of American experiences, wisdom and values; engender empathy and connection; and remind us how much more we have in common than divides us.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television and related online services.