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StoryCorps Project to Capture Sound Stories in Chapel Hill

StoryCorps, a national initiative to document everyday history and the unique stories of America, will be in Chapel Hill and Durham in April, collecting the stories of North Carolina residents as part of the program’s cross-country tour. In partnership with WUNC 91.5 FM, StoryCorps will set up shop at the American Tobacco Historic District in Durham on April 3 and conclude its visit with a five-day stop in Chapel Hill beginning April 25.

StoryCorps recordings are provided to the Library of Congress and National Public Radio.

The StoryCorps mobile recording booth, contained in a large travel trailer, will be parked and accessible to pedestrian traffic on the courtyard side of the American Tobacco Campus near the south parking deck from April 3-24; it will move to the parking lot of UNC’s Morehead Planetarium from April 25-30. The booth will be open from 11:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. weekdays and 9:30 a.m. to 6:30 pm on weekends. StoryCorps plans to collect more than 100 interviews during its stay in North Carolina.

Created by award-winning NPR documentary producer and MacArthur grant recipient David Isay, StoryCorps is traveling throughout the United States, instructing and inspiring individuals to record their stories in sound. StoryCorps is the largest oral history project ever undertaken, with more than 2,000 stories collected from the project’s first year and plans to collect more than 250,000 interviews over the next decade.

Two StoryCorps MobileBooths began their national tour in Washington, D.C., on May 19, 2005. From Washington, the MobileBooths set out in different directions across the country – one taking an eastern route and the other covering the Western states. This inaugural tour will last a year and stop at nearly 45 cities. WUNC will air a selection of the local stories and create programs around the project. Selected segments also will air nationally on NPR’s “Morning Edition.”

At the MobileBooth, people participate in pairs – oftentimes friends or loved ones – with one interviewing the other. A trained facilitator guides the participants through the interview process and handles the technical aspects of the recording. At the end of a 40-minute session, the participants walk away with a CD of their interview. With their permission, a second copy is sent to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, where it becomes part of a digital archive. This collection eventually should grow into an oral history of America.

WUNC is partnering with a variety of community-based organizations, as well as the Southern Oral History Project at UNC and the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University during StoryCorps’ visit.

“Over the past year and a half, we’ve seen the profound effect StoryCorps has had on the lives of those who have participated in the project, and we’ve seen the power that these stories have had on the millions who have heard them on NPR and on the Web,” said Isay, the project’s creator. “We believe that listening is an act of love. StoryCorps will engage communities, teach participants to become better listeners, foster intergenerational communication, and help Americans appreciate the strength in the stories of everyday people they find all around them.”

StoryCorps opened its first StoryBooth, a freestanding soundproof recording studio, in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal in October 2003 and in June 2005 opened its second StoryBooth at the site of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. Over the course of the 10-year project, StoryCorps plans to open StoryBooths, both mobile and stationary, across the country.

In addition to NPR, sponsors of the initiative are the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the automobile company Saturn.


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