StoryCorps, the national storytelling project broadcast on KCRW and National Public Radio (NPR), returns to Santa Monica a second time, through Saturday, December 8th, on the north end of the Third Street Promenade at Wilshire Boulevard.
A silver Airstream trailer serves as the StoryCorps MobileBooth, a state-of-the-art recording studio where people can interview friends or loved ones in a 40-minute session. At the end of the session, participants receive a CD of their interview and a second copy is sent to the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress, where it becomes part of a high-quality digital archive that will eventually grow into an oral history of America. Excerpts of selected stories will be aired on KCRW on Mondays at 4:44 p.m.
Created by award-winning radio documentary producer and MacArthur Genius Award recipient David Isay, StoryCorps has recorded the stories of more than 13,000 participants since the first StoryBooth was opened in New York City in October 2003. Since 2005, MobileBooths have crossed the country collecting the memories of people from all 50 states and every imaginable walk of life, identity group, age, and state of mind. Select stories are broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition.
Connie Alvarez, KCRW’s volunteer coordinator, interviewed her mother when StoryCorps first came to Santa Monica in January 2006. The story of how her mother, Blanca Alvarez, crossed from Mexico into the United States was broadcast on NPR’s Morning Edition, Real Simple Television on PBS, distributed in a textbook for English learners and was transcribed in the StoryCorps book, Listening is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project, available Thursday, November 8th.
“I didn’t know what to expect from the interview, but now I look back and think it was a gift that I was able to give my mom, for her to tell her story through StoryCorps,” Alvarez says. “What’s great about StoryCorps is the gift of having someone else know your story, because even if you’re shy, there’s someone else who might have a similar story or care about your story.”
Alvarez also encourages StoryCorps as an avenue to foster communication between people.
“I definitely think that everyone, whether they get a chance to get in the trailer or not, should do this with a loved one or special friend. There’s so much you don’t know about a person and 40 minutes can open your eyes to their stories,” Alvarez says. “This has benefited our relationship because it has brought us closer in a way, knowing where she came from, and her knowing that I care.
“I love that I’ve been given the opportunity to tell my mother’s story because it’s the story of a lot of immigrants in this country, and it’s amazing how many people want to tell their stories. StoryCorps really is communication in its best form.”
StoryCorps expects to collect approximately 250 interviews during this Southern California tour, and will also have an audio presentation of StoryCorps interviews, a reading, and a book signing for Listening is an Act of Love with Isay, at 2 p.m. Sunday, November 11th, on Third Street near Wilshire Boulevard, Santa Monica. Reservations for interviews begin at 10 a.m. Friday, November 9th, at www.storycorps.net or (800) 850-4406.