StoryCorps is a national nonprofit which records, preserves and shares stories. The stories come from people of all backgrounds and beliefs.
StoryCorps’ smooth, aluminum Airstream trailer recently arrived in Austin. You’ll see the MobileBooth parked at the Bullock Texas State History Museum (1800 Congress Ave) until January 31, 2015. Inside, the trailer is outfitted with a sleek recording studio.
This unique organization provides access to other peoples’ stories, and they want to hear your story too.
It’s Easy to Tell Your Story, Even If You Don’t Think So
You have stories people want to hear, and StoryCorps gives you a chance to tell the world. But you don’t have to share with a stranger. You can take a family member, relative or friend to interview you while the world listens in, again and again for decades to come.
Don’t worry if you’ve never interviewed or given an interview. A trained StoryCorps facilitator will guide you step by step through the process. It takes about 40 minutes.
StoryCorps plans to schedule about 145 interviews in Austin before the trailer moves to its next destination. It’s free to participate and the trailer is wheelchair accessible.
Leaving a Legacy
At the end of each appointment, the interviewee receives a CD copy of the interview. This, in itself, is a precious heirloom and gift for family and friends.
Over the last 11 years, StoryCorps has recorded more than 55,000 interviews with more than 100,000 participants. With permission, a copy of each interview is archived at the U.S. Library of Congress in the American Folklife Center. The stories are often used by professional and amateur historians, and enjoyed by ordinary people who want to hear something interesting.
In Austin, StoryCorps maintains a Historias Archive, a collection of Latino voices, at The University of Texas. Emily Janssen, site manager for Storycorps’ Mobile Tour, told the Austinot, “It draws from our larger collection. It features people who identify themselves as Latino or Hispanic and give us permission to share their story in that archive.”
Stories Worth Sharing
You don’t need to be well known to have a story worth sharing. Maybe your grandfather told you a story about hopping trains during the Great Depression. Your brother told you a harrowing story about Iraq. You may have a story about seeing an old high school friend that ends with a weird twist. Maybe your great aunt told you a story about seeing John Wayne when he was Singin’ Sam, the first singing cowboy.
You’ve heard these tales around the dinner table, in the car, during family gatherings at holidays. Emily Janssen said interviews are fitting “when you’ve kind of heard the story before, but you really don’t know the whole story.” She recommends bringing elderly loved ones to be interviewed because you won’t be able to ask them about their stories forever.
This is StoryCorps’ third trip to Austin, so many of your neighbors have told their stories already.
Harrison Wright told his grandson Sean Guess about serving in the army at the end of World War II. Rick Kincaid talked to his friend Danny Ray Terry about his career as a bounty hunter. Monica Velez visited the trailer with her fiancé Christopher Hernandez to share about her two brothers who served in the armed forces.
Others who have participated are Mexican American singer-songwriter Alejandro Escovedo, interviewed by his close friend Jody Denberg, and former UT Women’s Basketball coach Jody Conradt, interviewed by former player Amie Bradley. Conradt talked about coming to The University of Texas in 1976 to coach women’s basketball. At that time, it was unusual:
“There weren’t many women’s basketball programs at the collegiate level that were as visible or had the same kind of focus as The University of Texas,” Conradt said. “I might have been the very first woman in the state hired to coach a woman’s sport. Before that time, you were hired to do other things and you coached as an aside or as a volunteer.”
The rest was history. Over the next 30 years, Conradt saw the transition from half court to full court basketball and coached the team to 900 victories and a national championship.
“We had this misperception that women didn’t have the endurance and the stamina to run 94 feet,” Conradt said. By giving scholarships and creating an interest where people started buying tickets to see games, it helped open doors to women in other areas.”
“In 1976, less than 10 percent of students in law school and med school were women,” Conradt said. “Now women are more than 50 percent in those areas.”
The UT program became the first program to become undefeated, have a perfect season and win a national championship. And the details of this historic moment have been captured and preserved by StoryCorps.
How to Listen and Participate
StoryCorps is partnering with Austin radio station KUT to air a collection of local interviews on 90.5 FM. In addition, some portions of the interviews may receive airtime on NPR’s national show, Morning Edition. You can listen to Austin stories and general podcasts any time on the Web.
While interview reservations have been made, several cancellations occur each week. If you’re interested in sharing your story, call the reservation hotline open 24 hours a day at 1-800-850-4406 or visit StoryCorps.org to get on the waiting list.
Without someone to listen, stories are lost each generation. The Austinot is grateful to StoryCorps for giving an immeasurably valuable gift to the city of Austin with their visit this month.
@theAustinot wants to know:
If you could tell a story in the StoryCorps trailer, what would it be?