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NYC-based traveling story gatherers stopping in Cincinnati

StoryCorps' mobile recording studio is making a stop in Cincinnati from April 20-May 19.


Fourteen years ago, Dave Isay, a reporter and radio personality by trade,  wanted to capture stories, but not by sticking a microphone in people’s faces. So, he installed a recording booth where people could record their own conversations in Grand Central Terminal in Manhattan, and StoryCorps was born.
 
“In the beginning, StoryCorps was very grassroots, but the question came up of whose stores were we actually recording,” says Jordan Bullard, associate director of the mobile tour.
 
In 2005, StoryCorps launched a mobile tour starting at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. The Airstream trailer is retrofitted with a professional recording studio and allows individuals and their loved ones to have honest conversations with each other, and walk away with a copy of those conversations in their hands.
 
The mobile tour has visited more than 200 cities and 49 states (they haven’t made it to Alaska yet) in 12 years. The bus will make a stop in Cincinnati from April 20-May 19 at a location that is still to be determined.
 
This isn’t the first time StoryCorps has been to Cincinnati — it was here eight years ago. In each city it stops, StoryCorps partners with an NPR affiliate radio station; Cincinnati Public Radio actually asked StoryCorps to come back and visit.
 
“Many of the cities we’re visiting now are on the upswing and are experiencing a renaissance,” Bullard says. “We want to capture the changing dynamic of Cincinnati, as well as the memories and history of the city.”
 
Sharing your story is totally free and open to the public. In each city StoryCorps visits, the Airstream is set up in a central location so it’s easily accessible to everyone. The team is able to record up to seven stories a day, five days a week — a total of 154 stories during their stay in Cincinnati.
 
After stories are recorded, there are multiple ways to access them. Participants receive a free, unedited, broadcast-quality copy before they leave the Airstream. Select clips are broadcast on local NPR affiliated stations, and some clips make it onto NPR’s "Morning Edition," which is broadcast every Friday morning.
 
All stories are archived, with permission, in the Library of Congress, as well as in a local depository, which is still being decided for this visit. The archives are used for academic research, and have increasingly become an important resource for all kinds of reasons.
 
“I hope that StoryCorps brings an opportunity for people to reflect on their own story and reflect on their value and self-worth,” Bullard says. “Maybe it will give people a chance to listen to each other, which is easier said then done. Listening is an act of love — how often do you not pay attention to others?”
 
If you want to have your story on tape, you can sign up online starting April 6. Appointments are on a first-come, first-served basis.
 
There’s also an app, which is available for free in the Google Play and App stores. It allows users to record their stories and archive them at storycorps.me.
 

Read more articles by Caitlin Koenig.

Caitlin Koenig is a Cincinnati transplant and 2012 grad of the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri. She's the department editor for Soapbox Media and currently lives in Northside with her husband, Andrew, and their three furry children. Follow Caitlin on Twitter at @caite_13.  
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