StoryCorps Announces 2021 One Small Step Communities, Expanding to Six New Cities to Foster Conversations Across American Political Divides
Public Media Stations Will Broaden StoryCorps’ Nationwide Initiative to Build Connection Despite Political Differences
June 15, 2021
Stations Selected by StoryCorps to Take Part:
Alaska Public Media, Anchorage, AK
High Plains Public Radio, Garden City, KS, and Amarillo, TX
KOSU, Oklahoma City, OK
KUNR, Reno, NV
Valley Public Media, Clovis, CA
Vermont Public Radio, Colchester, VT
June 15, 2021 -- StoryCorps, the groundbreaking personal history project, which has given 650,000 Americans across all 50 states the chance to record conversations about their lives and preserve them for posterity at the Library of Congress, announces the 2021 expansion of One Small Step Communities. With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, StoryCorps will provide training and production assistance to six local public radio stations across the United States as part of StoryCorps’ nationwide One Small Step initiative to facilitate and broadcast conversations with Americans of opposing viewpoints.
“Recent polls demonstrate what most of us have already experienced first-hand: that there is a pervasive culture of contempt that threatens the very foundations of our democracy. According to a CBS News poll released earlier this year, more than half of all Americans say the greatest danger to America's way of life comes from their fellow citizens,” said Dave Isay, Founder and President of StoryCorps. “One Small Step aims to remind people of the humanity in all of us, and that it’s hard to hate up close. These communities can model this change for the rest of the country.”
"StoryCorps uses its innovative approach to sharing stories in its One Small Step Communities initiative to foster understanding and respect, even among people who deeply disagree," said Patricia Harrison, President and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. “By working with local public radio stations to connect people with different backgrounds and political beliefs, One Small Step is helping stations strengthen their communities, one step at a time. CPB is very pleased to support this effort.”
The stations participating in 2021 are: Alaska Public Media, Anchorage, AK; High Plains Public Radio, Garden City, KS, and Amarillo, TX; KOSU, Oklahoma City, OK; KUNR, Reno, NV; Valley Public Media, Clovis, CA; and Vermont Public Radio, Colchester, VT. For recording dates and locations in these communities, visit storycorps.org/onesmallstep.
Launched by StoryCorps in 2018 in response to growing division in the country, One Small Step is a nationwide initiative that provides two strangers who hold different views with the opportunity to take part in facilitated and recorded conversations—specifically to counteract intensifying political divides and to enable those who disagree to listen to each other with respect. Rather than spark additional partisan debates, One Small Step encourages answers to questions such as, “Was there a moment, event, or person in your life that shaped your political views?” and “What scares you most when you think about the future?”
For the One Small Step Communities project, two members of each participating station will take part in a training led by StoryCorps staff. The stations will receive program support and a customized set of professional recording equipment for in-person recording, as well as access to StoryCorps’ remote recording platform, which can be used to host conversations virtually. Trained station staff members will facilitate and record conversations between community residents of differing political persuasions, and selected interviews will be shared across each station’s media platforms. Stations will also team up with a variety of community organizations to spread the word and will collaborate with StoryCorps to match participants and record conversations through the end of the year. The project will include a series of public listening events, streamed online, in fall 2021.
Public radio stations have played an integral role in helping StoryCorps realize its aspiration to touch the lives of every American. Since 2005, more than 150 stations in all 50 states have hosted the StoryCorps Mobile Tour, providing local access to a mobile recording booth that travels the country, reaching people of all backgrounds and providing opportunities to capture stories of communities that might otherwise go untold.
StoryCorps’ One Small Step initiative is made possible by the generous support of The Hearthland Foundation, the Fetzer Institute, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and the Charles Koch Institute.
Founded in 2003 by Dave Isay, StoryCorps has given 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 to gather the stories of people nationwide. There are also StoryBooths located in Chicago and Atlanta. With the 2015 TED Prize awarded to Dave Isay, StoryCorps launched a free mobile app that puts the StoryCorps experience entirely in the hands of users and enables anyone, anywhere to record meaningful conversations with another person and upload the audio to the Library of Congress. The StoryCorps app serves as the facilitator, guiding users through the interview experience, from recording to archiving to sharing their stories with the world. It provides easy-to-use tools to help people prepare interview questions; record high-quality conversations on their mobile devices; and upload the audio to archive.storycorps.org which serves as a home for these recordings and also provides interview and editing resources. StoryCorps 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. After recording a StoryCorps conversation via any of these methods, participants are emailed a link to their interview, and a digital file goes to the Library of Congress, where it will be preserved for generations to come. StoryCorps is a national institution that fosters a culture of listening in the United States; celebrates the dignity, power, and grace that can be heard in the stories we find all around us; and helps us recognize that every life and every story matters equally. In the coming years, StoryCorps hopes to touch the lives of every American family.
The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, a private, nonprofit corporation created by Congress in 1967, is the steward of the federal government’s investment in public broadcasting. It helps support the operations of more than 1,500 locally managed and operated public television and radio stations nationwide. CPB is also the largest single source of funding for research, technology and program development for public radio, television, and related online services. For more information, visit cpb.org, follow us on Twitter @CPBmedia, Facebook and LinkedIn and subscribe for email updates.