CHICAGO (September 17, 2021) - Earlier this year, StoryCorps announced it was closing the recording booth and exhibition space it has operated at the Chicago Cultural Center since 2013. Now, to commemorate the booth’s closing in Chicago, WBEZ is celebrating StoryCorps in Chicago with a weeklong tribute to the memorable stories recorded in Chicago, hundreds of which have aired as broadcast excerpts over the years.
Each weekday from Sept. 20-24, WBEZ will air a StoryCorps piece during Morning Edition and All Things Considered, and the collection of stories will be available online at wbez.org/storycorps. Additionally, Vocalo, WBEZ’s sister station, will air the StoryCorps pieces the week of Sept. 27 on 91.1FM.
Since opening the booth, StoryCorps has partnered with WBEZ to broadcast excerpts of interviews recorded in the region. More than 7,500 people from the Chicago area have recorded more than 4,000 StoryCorps interviews, all of which are archived at the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress.
“Chicago was lucky to have a permanent StoryCorps booth for years, and during that time thousands of people in our community were able to share their stories and memories and really listen to one another at the booth,” said WBEZ Program Director Heidi Goldfein. “This week we’re listening back to a small sample of some of those honest, funny, inspiring and thoughtful conversations, just a selection of all of the wonderful StoryCorps recordings we have aired over the years.”
As one segment starts out, “StoryCorps in Chicago has helped us listen in on some of the most important moments in people’s lives.” In one family’s story, a father and son talk about the critical need for adults to advocate for young people, sharing the father’s determination to help his son get into college after he was not admitted to advanced reading and math in middle school.
Another story airing as part of the StoryCorps tribute reveals a chance encounter between two people: A mother in conversation with the public safety officer who was there the day her then 33-year-old son with autism was rushed to Loyola University Medical Center after becoming violent toward his parents after taking a new medicine.
In addition to sharing the stories as they were captured in the StoryCorps booth at the time of their recording, WBEZ is also checking in with a few Chicagoans who reflect back on their story today. For example, we hear from a young couple nervous - and excited - about parenthood just weeks before they have their first baby. Now, seven years later they have three children, but still wonder if they are doing a good job as parents.
The StoryCorps tributes have been produced for this commemorative week by Bill Healy, who has brought us StoryCorps stories over the past eight years. Heidi Goldfein is WBEZ’s StoryCorps editor, along with support by Cate Cahan.
“Chicago has a foundational role in the history of StoryCorps, and we’re proud to have recorded interviews in the city, year-round, for so many years,” said Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps. “We are deeply thankful to WBEZ for their many years of close collaboration with us, to the community-based partners who have enabled us to record and preserve the voices of Chicagoans of all backgrounds and beliefs, and to the Joyce Foundation for making the work possible. Most of all, we are grateful to the people who have shared their stories. We’re thrilled for WBEZ to share some of them with listeners next week.”
While the StoryCorps recording booth has now closed, Chicagoans can continue to preserve stories with their loved ones through the StoryCorps app or StoryCorps Connect. Visit https://storycorps.org/participate/ to learn more. WBEZ listeners can continue to listen to StoryCorps from around the country every Friday morning during NPR’s Morning Edition, on air at 91.5 FM or online at WBEZ.org.
WBEZ’s StoryCorps Chicago Finale (9/20-9/24)
Weeklong Tribute on WBEZ to Celebrate Powerful Conversations from StoryCorps in Chicago.
Founded in 2003 by Dave Isay, StoryCorps has given more than 650,000 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 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 what divides us.
StoryCorps is especially committed to capturing and amplifying voices 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. StoryCorps’ free mobile app that puts the StoryCorps experience entirely in the hands of users and enables anyone, anywhere to record a StoryCorps conversation and upload the audio to the Library of Congress. StoryCorps also recently launched StoryCorps Connect, a new video-based platform that makes it possible for two people in different locations to conduct a StoryCorps interview safely and remotely. For more information, please visit storycorps.org.