Monthly Archives: July 2010

In the booth.

We spent months preparing for the StoryCorps visit – lots of planning, collaborating, and encouraging the community to participate.  Now that the MobileBooth and the energetic staff members are here, we’re in the background, watching it unfold.  We’ll have tape to edit at the end of this week so we can begin airing some segments, but for now, we’re observers.

Except for Monday afternoon at 2:30.  That was my interview slot. I made my reservation online like everybody else, because I knew I wanted to participate, wanted to experience the StoryCorps ethos and have some part of my life archived.  It’s a very winsome thought – telling a story and saving it.

I asked my younger sister, Ruth Jones, to be my interview partner, and we talked about her life as the twin of a special needs person, our sister, Lois.  It was a good

My sisters, Ruth and Lois.

conversation, maybe not lots of great sound bytes to be used on air, but, really, that’s not the point.  I realized that more as we sat together in that booth.

It’s an interesting experience.  Lilly, the StoryCorps site coordinator and the facilitator for our interview, prepped us a bit, fixed our mics, closed the double sound proof doors, and created a little cocoon of storytelling.  The atmosphere was private, soft, and kind of protected.  Lilly moved into the background, controlling sound levels a bit and making sure everything was moving along.

And then we just talked.  I had sent Ruth some questions that I wanted to ask and she had thought about them.  I think we both heard some things we hadn’t heard before even though we see each other often.  This just isn’t something we talk much about – growing up with Lois was just how we grew up.  It’s just our everyday life.

I have to think that’s when StoryCorps is at its best – when two people talk about their ordinary experiences and in doing so uncover little bits of treasure about their own lives.  We hear it, sometimes, in segments that get air time on Friday mornings during Morning Edition and know that those two people, people we don’t know at all, were experiencing something very special in that moment.

Having spent my forty minutes or so in the MobileBooth, I have a new appreciation for those moments.  Sitting at that small table with big mics (and a teeny tiny little glass of water – so it doesn’t make a big mess if it spills), those people were looking at each other and sharing those “stories”, just like Ruth and I did.  They weren’t thinking at all about whether or not it was “good radio”, they were just thinking about whatever part of their life they were sharing, remembering, and valuing the person across from them.

For good reason, StoryCorps asks that no one person have more than one appointment in the booth during their stay.  I totally understand that, but I could think of a whole handful of people who I would like to interview in that soft, quiet space.  Everyday people with stories of compassion and strength, stories like Ruth’s, that having real meaning and are worth telling, sharing, and saving.

As of this moment, there are still three or four interview slots available at the end of next week, Friday and Saturday, July 30 and 31.  Those are StoryCorps’ last days in Fort Wayne and you should think about taking advantage of this really remarkable  experience.  Here’s the link: StoryCorps Reservations/Fort Wayne.  You’ll be pleased that you did.

I certainly am.  Thanks, Ruth.

PS.  Our friend Andrew Hoffman of NeighborLink also had a time in the booth and interviewed NLFW’s founder and board chair. You can hear that interview here.


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Identity crisis.

We’ve had a bit of an identity crisis here for a long time and from time to time we dive head first into looking for some solutions.  We are in one of those dives right now, sorting through many options for presenting ourselves to the public.

We don’t worry too much about those of you who are already hooked on public radio. You’ll find us whether we tag ourselves as WBOI, WBNI, 89.1fm, Northeast Indiana Public Radio, or whatever.  You know where and how to tap into what you want each day.  But we’d like to grow our audience and strengthen the ties we have with the community and raise awareness of the fact that public radio is an important resource.  So sometimes we act like a radio station and sometimes we act like a not for profit community organization and we do a chameleon thing with our name as we move back and forth between those two roles.

Several of us had a great meeting a couple of weeks ago with Jeff Britton and Jack Patton of Britton Marketing and Design Group and those meetings with wildly creative people always get our juices flowing again. Jeff and Jack are both great friends of the station and it’s always good to talk with people who really get what’s at the heart of the organization — and care deeply about its success.  They were both quick to point out that we’ve got some branding issues, some identity lapses, and it’s all the more important as we talk about beefing up our web presence, our social media portfolio, and our offering of electronic listening options.  We need to be able to clearly show – graphically – who we are.

I love this stuff.  It forces us to get to the core of the matter.  Who are we and how do we want to relate to this community?

For a very long time, this organization was WBNI, classical music, locally hosted, but as most of you know who follow us, the time when that is our core offering has come and gone.  Our recent member/listener survey, while still being processed, shows us that our core listeners now come to us for news and information.  Changes our identity some.  Or, perhaps, complicates it as we move from what we were to what we are and as we look to what we will be,what the community needs us to be.

How do you think of us?  WBOI?  89.1fm, a specific place on your radio? NPR?  NIPR (the nipper!), a media organization?  NIPR, a not for profit organization? Phil Shaull’s radio playground (just kidding, just kidding)?

When you tell people about us, what do you call us?

I’d love to hear from you.  Names matter, seems to me.



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89.1 HD3 – An experiment in the alternative.

If you’re listening to 89.1 HD3 right now, you just heard a change.  Big change.  From syndicated jazz to an experiment in alternative listening – a mix of NPR programs, contemporary album music, and replays of some favorites at alternate times.  HD listeners are few and far between, but if you’re out there, give it a listen.  We’re just trying this out, to see what you think and what we think and if there’s a place in our public radio world for something a bit different.

The schedule, as it experimentally stands right now, looks like this:


If you’re tuned in and turned on, let us know.



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And we’re off . . . or on . . .

This morning marked the end of months of planning and the beginning of three weeks of just way-too-exciting storytelling.  It was a great opening day.

Whitney, Jorge, and Virginia, the StoryCorps crew, had everything set up and ready to go when our first, very first, StoryCorps pair arrived and entered the booth this morning at 10:30.

Community volunteer Eleanor Marine and City Councilman John Shoaff spent their time talking about Headwaters Park – both served as members of the commission right from the start and have an insider’s view of what is now an iconic part of the city. I’m eager to hear the interview and just as eager to share parts of it with our listeners. Eleanor and John are good friends and Jorge made the comment after the interview concluded that they seemed to really enjoy each and laughed a lot.  That would be our wish for every pair as they leave the Mobile Booth – that they enjoy each other and feel like it was good to share that space for an hour.

Big thanks to our local press for showing up, being interested, and spending time.  A special shout out to WANE-TV’s Alyssa Ivanson (a StoryCorps fan) and cameraman Trae Hester for investing so much time with us.  We’re looking forward to your coverage. Ellie Bogue with the News-Sentinel, Sam Hoffman, Journal-Gazette, Fort Wayne Magazine, Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly — all are giving us some attention. We’ve had great support from all the local media and it makes a difference for a project like this.  Salute, colleagues!

Adding to the festivities were awesome hot dogs and drinks from Chris and Jennifer McMinn (and Maya), owners of Rush Street Express. Thanks so much for coming down and feeding us.

The second interview today was Cheryl Ferverda of the Allen County Public Library, our partner in this endeavor, interviewing with her son.  And then the remainder of the afternoon is filled with public interviews, those folks who signed up through the web site or by phone.  And we’re off and running.

We’ll begin airing some of the edited segments next week, if we’re productive and lucky and can’t wait to begin sharing StoryCorps NE Indiana with all of you.

The schedule is pretty full, although this afternoon I did help someone find a reservation slot for next week  . . .  and . . .  the good news is that tomorrow (Saturday) morning at 10 am, another 20 or so spots are going to be opened up in the schedule (because we did such a good job of filling what we had!).  So if you procrastinated and now would really like to participate, go to and click on the reservation link or go directly to StoryCorps Fort Wayne Reservations. And they are building a waiting list, because we know some folks may have to cancel as we move through the three weeks ahead.  You know you want to do this, so find a partner and sign up!

It’s going to be an interesting three weeks and so gratifying to air segments of these local interviews all throughout the next many months, sharing the stories of what makes growing up here, living here, falling in love, going to war, coming home, serving the public, making art, dealing with adversity, learning lessons, sharing memories, and passing all that on, so very special.

Thanks, StoryCorps, for visiting us and thanks, all of you who’ve worked to make this successful.  We’re off to a memorable start.

Because the stories matter,


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Almost story time.

StoryCorps begins for real this week.  On Tuesday afternoon, two facilitators and the site manager will roll into town and get ready for the first interviews on Friday. We’ll start with the first interview at 10:30 am and a second at 12:30pm and the hour between those first two will be for the press – and anyone who’s interested – to see the booth, meet the staff, and have a free hot dog with us. Hey, food is important. Consider yourself invited. Seriously. 11:30, Friday – Library parking lot.

Those first two interviews are the only ones that we’ll talk about before they happen.  We were asked to think about things that were important to our area, that in some ways gave identity to our region, and that included folks who would be willing to talk, not so much about themselves, but about what makes us a community.  The 10:30 interview will be John Shoaff and Eleanor Marine, talking  about Headwaters Park –  how it came to be and what they think it means to us.  The second slot will be filled by two library people, talking about that important community cornerstone and the changes that they’ve seen from the inside out.  I like how this has worked out.  There are thousands of stories that would have fit marvelously here, but these will be great additions to the overall body of work that comes out of Fort Wayne.

I can see the schedule of interviews enough to tell which slots are filled – looks like right this moment there’s on slot on the 17th, one on the 18th, and one on the 19th. Things move around and change all the time, so if you’re still hoping to talk with someone you know, don’t give up. Just go here. But I don’t get to see who’s filling those slots – this is a great process that really protects people who may want to tell a story, but not necessarily share it with the world. You can share it – that’s kind of the point – but you certainly don’t have to.

Each session will last about an hour, with the actual recording lasting 40 minutes.  When you leave, each participant will leave, right then, with a CD of the entire conversation. And if you want you can say that it ends there – nothing considered for on-air (either through NPR or through NIPR) and that you don’t want your conversation archived in the American FolkLife project at the Library of Congress. But we hope all of our stories will go to that archive and that most will be able to be considered for editing for on-air use.  Those spots you hear on Friday mornings on Morning Edition come from 40 minutes of recording.  So, there’s some production work to be done after the stories are told.

At NIPR, we’ll receive tape each week from the interviews – not every single one – but many, and then we’ll edit those for our own StoryCorps segments.  Over the next year, you can count on hearing our special stories at times other than the regular StoryCorps slots on Fridays.  We can’t wait to share the unique stories of our own community.

Over the week-end, when I was with my family, somene asked “What’s in it for the station?” (Ah, pragmatic family.) And I had to think about that.  It’s been a bit of work – gathering community folks together to make certain we sincerely reached out to all, telling the StoryCorps story in a way that made certain those interview slots would be filled, planning for appropriate housing for the SC staff while they are here (an unfurnished house? who’s idea was that . . . oh, never mind.), and coordinating the “home” for the MobileBooth.

Furnishing the unfurnished - Lea's "moving" van.

But we think, as a staff and board, that this work, this storytelling and keeping of the stories, aligns so magnificently with our mission, we couldn’t NOT be willing to host StoryCorps.  Of course, we hope we get some great radio segments from it and that by participating, perhaps we’ll draw new listeners and new supporters.  But that will be a bit hard to measure, I think.  And we hope the community will appreciate that we brought this project to Fort Wayne and continue to see us as more than a radio station, as a community resource interested in  serving the entire community. We also hope that individuals who participate will have a remarkable time and that it will, in some small way, bring enrichment to their lives, their human experience and that as those stories are shared, it will enrich our human experience, all of us who are privileged to listen.

We’ve been talking about and planning for this for a long time.  So thrilled that it’s finally here.  So many of you have helped get us here — thanks for that — and to those of you who are telling your stories during the next four weeks — big thanks for that.  I hope something magical happens for you in that tiny little booth.


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