Groundbreaking personal history project StoryCorps returns to the road with the 2019 tour of its MobileBooth—the Airstream trailer converted into a mobile recording studio. As it travels around the country between January 5 and December 21, the MobileBooth will offer Americans the simple yet singular opportunity to record meaningful conversations about their lives, to be preserved for posterity in the StoryCorps Archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress. The pioneering non-profit launched the Mobile Tour back in 2005, and has since then facilitated hundreds of thousands of conversations between people who know and care about one another. For the 2019 tour, StoryCorps expands the potential of the MobileBooth, incorporating its major new initiative, One Small Step—encouraging conversations between individuals who disagree politically—as it stops in various locations within our divided country, reminding us of our shared humanity.
From the start of its journey, January 5 in Orlando, Florida, through the tour’s conclusion in Yuma, Arizona, on December 21, the MobileBooth will travel thousands of miles through the U.S., visiting assorted cities, including Birmingham, for a month each. Please see below for a complete tour itinerary; reservations, which are free and available to the public, are announced for each city and can be booked online at storycorps.org.
The Mobile Tour is central to StoryCorps’ aspiration to become an enduring institution that touches the life of every American; it provides the StoryCorps experience to individuals who may not have access to the permanent StoryBooths in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Atlanta, or even to the groundbreaking free StoryCorps mobile app, launched in 2015. StoryCorps creates comfort and intimacy for its interviews, with a trained facilitator guiding participants through the process. After each 40-minute recording session, participants receive a complimentary copy of their interview, and a second copy is archived at the Library of Congress.
In 2019, StoryCorps will also bring One Small Step on the road with the MobileBooth. One Small Step seeks to counteract intensifying political divides, deepened daily on social media and elsewhere, by facilitating and recording face-to-face conversations that enable Americans who disagree to listen to each other with respect. One Small Step aims to remind us that we have more in common than divides us and that treating those with whom we disagree with decency and respect is essential to a functioning democracy. In order to record an interview as part of One Small Step, participants must make a note of their intention in advance when they schedule their interview reservation.
“As our MobileBooth crisscrosses the country, recording one conversation at a time, we are building an archive that reflects the rich diversity of American voices and tells the true story of this nation—and reminds us of the poetry, wisdom, and grace that can be found in the words of the people all around us when we take the time to listen,” said Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps.
In each city on the tour, StoryCorps will partner with a local public radio station like WBHM, which will air a selection of the interviews recorded and, in many cases, create special programs around the project. StoryCorps may also share edited versions of select interviews collected throughout the tour via its weekly broadcasts on NPR’s Morning Edition as animated shorts, or via StoryCorps’ digital platforms or best-selling books.
Major support for the MobileBooth Tour is provided by CPB, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
StoryCorps MobileBooth Tour 2019
|January 5 – February 6||Orlando, FL||WMFE|
|February 12 – March 13||Birmingham, AL||WBHM|
|March 19 – April 17||Chattanooga, TN||WUTC|
|April 23 – May 22||Washington, D.C.||WAMU|
|May 28 – June 26||Philadelphia, PA||WHYY|
|July 2 – July 31||Columbus, OH||WOSU|
|August 6 – September 4||Flint, MI||Michigan Radio|
|September 10 – October 9||Memphis, TN||WKNO|
|October 15 – November 13||Dallas/Fort Worth, TX||KERA|
|November 19 – December 21||Yuma, AZ||KAWC|
Founded in 2003, StoryCorps has given 500,000 people—people of all backgrounds and beliefs, in thousands of towns and cities in all 50 states—the chance to record interviews about their lives. The organization preserves the recordings in its special StoryCorps archive at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, the largest single collection of human voices ever gathered, and shares select stories with the public through StoryCorps’ 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.
StoryCorps is especially committed to capturing and amplifying voices of everyday people least heard in the media. The StoryCorps MobileBooth, an Airstream trailer the organization has transformed into a traveling recording booth, crisscrosses the country year-round in order to gather the stories of people nationwide. With the 2015 TED Prize awarded to Dave Isay, StoryCorps launched a free mobile app that puts the StoryCorps experience entirely in the hands of users and enables anyone, anywhere to record meaningful conversations with another person and upload the audio to the Library of Congress. StoryCorps also records interviews in its permanent StoryBooths, in New York, Chicago and Atlanta.
Recording an interview in a StoryCorps booth couldn’t be easier: You invite a loved one, or anyone else you choose, to a StoryCorps recording site. There you’re met by a trained facilitator who explains the interview process, brings you into a quiet recording room and seats you across from your interview partner, each of you in front of a microphone. The facilitator hits “record,” and you share a 40-minute conversation. After your recording you receive a digital copy, and with your permission, a second copy is archived at the Library of Congress, where it will be preserved for generations to come.
StoryCorps is working to grow into an enduring national institution that fosters a culture of listening in the United States; celebrates the dignity, power and grace that can be heard in the stories we find all around us; and helps us recognize that every life and every story matter equally. In the coming years StoryCorps hopes to touch the lives of every American family.