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David Isay On The Stories Behind 'StoryCorps'

For David Isay, who founded StoryCorps more than 10 years ago, the project isn’t about telling stories. It’s about listening.

“I think that what listening is about is remembering that it’s really not about you,” Isay said. “Just be present with another person, and concentrate and listen to them with respect. Any of us are capable of it.”

StoryCorps has recorded more than 55,000 stories from more than 96,000 people since opening a recording booth in 2003. The StoryCorps MobileBooth will make a monthlong stop in St. Louis starting Sept. 11; reservations are required and can be made starting Thursday.

“We think every interview for us is equally valuable,” Isay said. “We know that it’s sometimes an important moment, sometimes a sacred moment in people’s lives, and treat them all equally. But some have this kind of universal quality that almost demand they be shared with a larger audience.”

A small percentage of StoryCorps recordings are played on air; all of them are archived at the Library of Congress.

Many have said that StoryCorps stories are emotional. For Isay, the stories are sacred.

“They’re not sad, most of them. I think what happens in StoryCorps is that you’re just hearing people being authentic with each other,” Isay said. “Many of these stories were just kind of telling stories of everyday people living life to its fullest and kind of showing us a path to walk. To me, you’re kind of walking on sacred ground when you tell those kind of stories.”

Related Events

StoryCorps MobileBooth
Sept. 11-Oct. 10; make reservations Aug. 28-Sept. 12
Missouri History Museum

"The Moth"
7:30 p.m. Sept. 19
The Sheldon Concert Hall
$50; tickets are available through MetroTix
Or $85 for "The Moth" and Lunch with DavidIsay

Lunch with David Isay
Noon Sept. 20
Sheraton Clayton Plaza
$50; tickets are available through MetroTix
Or $85 for "The Moth" and Lunch with DavidIsay

St. Louis on the Air discusses issues and concerns facing the St. Louis area. The show is produced by Mary Edwards and Alex Heuer and hosted by veteran journalist Don Marsh. Follow us on Twitter: @STLonAir.

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