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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