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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