On this week’s Around Atlanta edition of Atlanta Real Estate Forum Radio, Daniel Horowitz Garcia, regional manager for StoryCorps, and Diana Guyton, facilitator for StoryCorps, joined our hosts Todd Schnick and Bryan Nonni in-studio.
StoryCorps was founded in 2003 by radio documentarian Dave Isay. Since its inception, StoryCorps has archived more than 50,000 interviews with more than 100,000 participants, recording each conversation to CD and preserving it permanently at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. To date, StoryCorps is one of the largest oral history projects of its kind and millions listen in to weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition.
The StoryCorps sessions are set up as 40-minute conversations between two people who know and care for each other. Participants are often family members, but can also be best friends, mentors and mentees or even people who have only recently met each other. Couples participating in the sessions are joined by a facilitator that handles recording duties and will also take notes and periodically ask questions. However, the focus remains on the conversation between two people.
Daniel Horowitz brings the evolution of StoryCorps back to the origins of history, which has, for a majority of time, been oral. “The first historian was an oral historian and his only recording device was his brain,” said Horowitz. “So I think what has really changed in the last 100 years, particularly in the last 50 years, has been the technology.”
Improvements in the mobility, quality and cost of electronics used today have made projects like StoryCorps possible. If you have a phone, you have an oral history recording device. StoryCorps makes all of our stories relevant, even if you aren’t famous or popular. Daniel adds, “When folks sit down and say ‘I have nothing to say, I’m not very interesting,’ I’m like, you are the people, we need to talk. Those interviews are often the most interesting.”
StoryCorps currently has permanent recording locations in Atlanta, Chicago and San Francisco. There is even a mobile recording booth set up in an airstream trailer that is stationed in various locations across the nation for a month at a time inviting people to come in and tell their story.
For those interested in participating in a StoryCorps session, Daniel advises to think about what outcome you’d want from the conversation to be had. He adds, “We’ve had people come into the booth and they don’t really know each other that well, but sitting across the table in that setting, you can ask the question you’ve always wanted to ask.”
Daniel adds that some interviews are tough, as he remembers an instance where a 15-year-old son asked his mother why she and his father got divorced. Those can turn into impactful and life-changing conversations that may provide a catalyst for listeners to address similar issues in their own lives. When asking about other memorable stories, Diana recounts a recent interview she facilitated and adds that it’s not always about what will make a great broadcast; most of all, its about the relationship between two people. “I just had an interview between two best friends; one of them is about to have a baby and the other is about to move and they wanted to capture what’s going on in their lives right now and that was amazing to me. It was wonderful to witness.”
Another interview Diana won’t soon forget was between a woman who came in with her husband to talk about her mother’s murder. There are heavy stories and lighter ones like the session of three women in their 60s calling themselves “The Screaming Yellow Zonkers” as they recounted college memories.
StoryCorps has its own radio broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition during the week and local Atlanta stories air each Tuesday.
Find out more about StoryCorps by visiting the website www.StoryCorps.org/Atlanta. To contact StoryCorps Atlanta, email Atlanta@StoryCorps.org or call the StoryCorps Atlanta office at 404-814-4190.
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